A Maturing Wisdom: The Women of Modern Global Yoga

This is not a lecture about individual women and their isolated successes. Rather this talk aims to acknowledge the collective wisdom rising from a (mostly) female-driven phenomenon, which I will refer to as Modern Globalised Yoga, a term coined by Dr Elizabeth de Michelis.

Historical research tells us that Yoga has never been one thing, one practice nor one path. Yoga as both practice (i.e., a structured system) and a soteriological goal has been malleable. Indeed, to fully understand the meaning of Yoga at any given time, the most important consideration is that of context, context, context! Over the centuries, the continued success of Yoga has been in its ability to be different things to different people. Yet, the common feature that has given the concept of Yoga endurance has been the structures which offer an individual a set of practices that aim at an extraordinary psychosomatic experience (an altered outlook and/or experience of reality), which then transforms one’s relationship with both the sense of self and suffering. No wonder it is so appealing.

In the last 100 years, Yoga has taken a transnational leap from a guru-lineage pedagogy to a teaching profession. In doing so, individuals have had to re-assess the foundations of ethics, scope of practice, income-sources and the social positionality of its custodians. Although the forefathers of pre-modern Yoga were most certainly male, often ascetics and located in what is today called south-Asia, the qualities and demographics of Modern Globalised Yoga are a near exact dichotomy: 21st-century (mainly) female householders that are flourishing in a contemporary globalised meeting place of post-consumerism, feminism and new-age spiritualism.

This talk will touch on some of the cultural and social levers effecting yoga teachers and practitioners, and it will highlight some of the historical and contextual issues that are shaping the structures of Modern Globalised Yoga. One aim will be to identify future archetypes: the artisan, the ascetic, the lineage-holder, the neo-health professional, the academic

Cast

Jacqueline Hargreaves
Speaker

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