Yoga zeal

Your feet are to the left, with the right instep Yoga zeal in the arch of the left foot. Manually pull your buttocks back and apart. Inhale Yoga zeal and stretch up through your spine. Retract your abdomen. Exhale as you turn to your right. Reach your right hand behind you on the floor; place your left hand on your right knee. Deepen the twist with a wrapping action that begins behind the back of your left ribs and moves to Continue in the pose with rhythmic breathing: inhale, lift up the spine, and turn more as you exhale. Level your shoulders; preserve a quiet face as you turn.

McMahan, an American scholar of religious studies, summarises popular religion’ in the following way:

Scholars often describe popular traditions as the relatively unsophisticated local religion of the common people. They contain more ritual than complex doctrine, blend traditions liberally, and employ magic and the manipulation of material objects for protection and other this-worldly benefits. They may include fetishism and witchcraft and are often disruptive of orthodoxy. (McMahan 2008, p. 261)

McMahan points out that some currents of Buddhism actually share many of these features. In some ways this description also is a fair outline of some branches of the popular modernist yoga discourse. Compared to the elite discourse of yoga, the folk yoga’ discourse is relatively unsophisticated and is increasingly becoming a hodgepodge of various modernist trends and fashions. It is in a process of explosive hybridisation. We have seen how certain branches of the folk yoga’ discourse have effortlessly mixed romanticism, Transcendentalism, psychology, fitness, therapy, spirituality, rational scientism, commercialism, beauty ideals, health, dance, mass media and so on. We have for seen how folk yoga’ especially has mixed with New Age spiritualism – itself a patchwork of discourses – and in this way has become one of the new species of modernity’s individualised folk religions. The creativity and innovation brought to folkyoga’ is stunning and never-ending.

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