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Response to Andrea Jain Approach to Yoga

Autor:   •  February 6, 2019  •  Essay  •  498 Words (2 Pages)  •  263 Views

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In her article, Andrea Jain promotes a non-essentializing approach to yoga, emphasizing historicity and diversity. How does her historical analysis serve to support her argument? Do you think there is tension or incongruity between Jain’s analysis and the claim (presented by Johnson and Ahuja) that Yoga is cultural appropriation? Or are the two pieces compatible?

The popularization of yoga in western culture has caused dispute among several groups. Hindu opponents of the popularization of yoga claim that the modernized version of yoga is culturally appropriated, hence subtracting essential factors that gives this practice meaning. In addition, Christian opponents state that this practice interferes with their relationship with Christ. Andrea Jain considers the views of these two opposing groups and through historical exploration explains that yoga shouldn’t be confined to a single meaning or religion; rather, the meaning and attributes of yoga should be “malleable”, just like its history.

Andrea Jain derives her non-essentialising approach to yoga initially by mentioning the differing contexts in which yoga originated. For example, Jain states that the earliest reference to yoga was from the Rig Veda Samhita and it refers to the yoke used to bind an animal to a plow or chariot. Another later connotation linking Yoga to war was also prevalent. Furthermore, Yoga, in another context, was also used to represent a process which, if followed, leads to the liberation from embodied existence. The variability of the use of the term “yoga” further supports Jain’s nonessentialism argument.

        Jain enhances the idea of the nonessentialism of yoga by demonstrating that there were in fact many examples of interreligious exchanges of this practice. Yoga, as shown by Jain, has roots in not just Hinduism, but also Jainism and Buddhism. Therefore, Jain suggests that one cannot attribute Yoga to a single source without facing historical scrutiny. The interreligious element of yoga suggests that this practice shouldn’t be confined to one source or meaning; instead, it should be “malleable” and susceptible to adaption.


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