“Selling Yoga” traces growing popularity of modern yoga from its counterculture roots

Dr. Andrea Jain

Andrea Jain, “Selling Yoga” Author

In the popular imagination of yoga practice today, gone are the visions of bearded, stoic old men seeking a transcendent state detached from ordinary, everyday life. Instead, most envision a room of spandex-clad, perspiring, toned women perched atop yoga mats in the pursuit of fit, beautiful bodies.

The popular “modern postural yoga” systems now practiced in urban settings around the globe represent a late 20th century break from premodern and early modern yoga systems that were usually tied to a particular all-encompassing ideology, philosophy, or worldview, according to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor Andrea R. Jain.

In her new book, “Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture,” the IUPUI professor examines the growing global popularity of modern yoga, which previously had been viewed as countercultural and oftentimes scandalous.

“Yoga underwent popularization when certain yoga entrepreneurs (more traditionally known as gurus) became strategic participants in the global marketplace and succeeded in selling yoga by successfully creating an intersection of yoga brands and dominant trends of consumer culture,” said Jain, assistant professor of religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Unlike premodern and early modern yoga systems, popularized yoga is not prescribed as an all-encompassing worldview or system of practice, but as one among many components of personal development that can provide increased physical beauty, fitness, and flexibility, along with such benefits as decreased stress. In other words, popularized yoga is often combined with various non-related worldviews and practices.

Fueling its popularization has been yoga’s intersections with the rising transnational consumer culture and its basic tenant that individuals can and should pick and choose practices, beliefs, and commodities that fit their own lifestyle preferences, Jain said.

Practitioners of contemporary popularized yoga see its products and services as a road to self-development in line with mainstream social values such as the dominant health and fitness paradigms.

However, Jain argues that yoga systems cannot be reduced to mere commodities—that yoga can, in fact, serve religious purposes even in its popularized varieties, and as such provides an avenue for studying ways in which religious systems adjust to contemporary consumer culture.

“Yoga is merely a case study. Even evangelical Christianity has succeeded in part by creating an intersection with consumer culture . . . evangelical pastors, for example, advocate for the importance of individuals choosing particular exercise or physical fitness regimens based on lifestyle preferences, therefore reflecting dominant themes in our consumer culture,” Jain said.

Modern yoga systems are no less authentic than premodern ones, since all yoga systems are ultimately specific to their particular social contexts, according to the professor.

“There never was a single, homogenous yoga tradition. Yoga has always been in transition as it moved across social contexts,” Jain said.

Published by Oxford University Press, “Selling Yoga,” is now available in paperback, hardback and as an ebook.

David Craig, “Obamacare and American Values”

David CraigFebruary 4, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
Free tickets available below

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been criticized as socialist and revolutionary and its individual mandate as un-American. Prof. Craig’s new book, Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy, reports the lessons he learned during a three-year interview study at Catholic and Jewish hospitals. In fact the Affordable Care Act largely conserves the shared values built into U.S. health care through many decades of public policy and the mission-driven operations of religious health care organizations.

Dr. David M. Craig is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI. He completed Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy while serving as the Thomas H. Lake Scholar in Religion and Philanthropy in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He writes on economic, environmental, and health care ethics.

 

Ronda Henry, “Barack Obama, Gender, and Pop Culture”

Ronda HenryJanuary 27, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
Free tickets available below

Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father (1994) used women’s bodies to establish a socially and culturally popular “brand” upon which he could build his political career.  Women function as signs of a non-threatening black masculine identity constructed to counter contemporary images of black masculinity associated with anger, aggressiveness, criminality, and the influence of the hip hop thug.  While 50 Cent, Kanye West, Jay Z and other hip-hop moguls can use many of the “negative” associations attached to black masculinity to generate power, Obama had to block or disallow their easy application to his own body to gain wide acceptance.

Dr. Ronda Henry is Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and the Director of the Olaniyan Scholars Program.  She is the author of Searching for the New Black Man: Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies, published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2013.  She writes on African American literature, gender, and race.

 

Lecture: Andrea Jain, “Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture”

Andrea JainJanuary 21, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P
Free tickets available below
Premodern and early modern yoga comprise techniques with a wide range of aims, from turning inward in quest of the true self, to turning outward for divine union, to channeling bodily energy in pursuit of sexual pleasure. Early modern yoga also encompassed countercultural beliefs and practices. In contrast, today, modern yoga aims at the enhancement of the mind-body complex but does so according to contemporary dominant metaphysical, health, and fitness paradigms. Consequently, yoga is now a part of popular culture. In Selling Yoga, Andrea R. Jain explores the popularization of yoga in the context of late-twentieth-century consumer culture. She departs from conventional approaches by undermining essentialist definitions of yoga as well as assumptions that yoga underwent a linear trajectory of increasing popularization. While some studies trivialize popularized yoga systems by reducing them to the mere commodification or corruption of what is perceived as an otherwise fixed, authentic system, Jain suggests that this dichotomy oversimplifies the history of yoga as well as its meanings for contemporary practitioners.By discussing a wide array of modern yoga types, from Iyengar Yoga to Bikram Yoga, Jain argues that popularized yoga cannot be dismissedthat it has a variety of religious meanings and functions. Yoga brands destabilize the basic utility of yoga commodities and assign to them new meanings that represent the fulfillment of self-developmental needs often deemed sacred in contemporary consumer culture.Dr. Andrea R. Jain is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and author of Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture (Oxford, 2014).

2015 Spring Colloquium Series Presentation

Nate William, Ph.D. Candidate IU School of Education, IUPUI

Nate William

Please join us for the 2015 Spring Colloquium Series Presentation, hosted by the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education (CUME), and the School of Education. You will have the opportunity to experience a series of innovative research presentations by Ph.D. students, colleagues and community members. Join us for creative yet critical conversations on research that’s relevant to today’s society.  We thank all of those who attended our last sessions and look forward to seeing you at this one. Please mark this time on your calendar in support of our students and colleagues.

Invited Presenter: Mr. Nate William, Ph.D. Candidate, IU School of Education, IUPUI

Racial disparities in school discipline: A function of Systemic Racism?

The primary focus of my research centers on the overrepresentation of Black students in discipline, in particular, the exploration of how, if at all, the “school-to-prison pipeline” acts a function of systemic racism. Specifically, my research draws from critical scholarship to examine how teachers’ and administrators’ dispositions, their biases and beliefs, and philosophies of education and discipline, intersect with macro level social systems to contribute or interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and/or act as means of protecting whiteness. Using an embedded multi-case study (Yin, 2013) of four middle schools differing on dimensions of disproportionality and school locale, I analyze isolated and intersections of subunits of inquiry using a conceptual framework comprised of color-blind racism, post-colonialism, and critical race theory . Subunits of this inquiry include classroom dynamics, the disposition of teachers, their philosophies of education and discipline, discipline techniques, the referral process, and the overall discipline policy. Working in combination with my conceptual framework I will examine the subunits of this inquiry from three data points 1) ethnographic observations, 2) interviews, and 3) school level referral rates.

Mitchell Douglas’s Sabbatical Lecture Examines a Pivotal Time in Rock History

Mitchell Douglass

Mitchell Douglass

The Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway in December 1969 was marred by an alcohol-fueled security force of Hells Angels and the gang’s murder of a Berkeley teen. This year, Dec. 6, marked the 35th anniversary of the Altamont free concert. While Meredith Hunter’s killer, Hells Angel Alan Passaro, is long gone, Hunter’s story has never been fully explored. Mitchell Douglas, assistant professor of English at IUPUI, will explore the events of that night through lyric and persona poetry. Douglas will present his sabbatical talk December 9, 2014 to discuss his process for creating poems based on historical events, writing persona poems in the voices of historical figures, and how research can be an integral part of a creative project.

About the Liberal Arts Sabbatical Series Lectures

The Sabbatical Speaker Series was established to provide a venue for sharing research completed by Liberal Arts faculty while on sabbatical leaves. It is a sampling of the diverse work and excellence of IUPUI faculty, and an opportunity to come together for an hour of intellectual exploration with students, alumni, faculty, staff, retirees and friends from the community.

About the speaker

Mitchell Douglas is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts. His areas of academic interest include the Black Arts Movement, ethnic poetry collectives, and art for social change. He received the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award and has been a finalist for the NAACP Image Award (Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry), thee Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Wick Poetry Prize, the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award for his debut book, Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem, and was a Pushcart Prize Nominee in 2006. Douglas is also a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem fellow, and Poetry Editor for PLUCK!: the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. Mitchell L. H. Douglas’s second book of poems, \blak\ \al-fə bet\, is available from amazon.com.

Dennis Bingham’s Sabbatical Lecture Shows Cinema in a New Light

Dennis Bingham

Dennis Bingham

Professor Bingham’s presentation of Life, Death and All That Jazz: Bob Fosse and the Hollywood Renaissance of the 1970s on December 5, 2014 will explore the film style of the director-choreographer Bob Fosse (1927-1987), examining Fosse’s heretofore unacknowledged role in the “Hollywood Renaissance” of the 1970s. Bingham artfully examines how Fosse changed Hollywood cinema and American culture in ways that, though not always positive, have been lasting and pervasive. The talk focuses on Fosse’s first two films, Sweet Charity (1969) and especially, Cabaret (1972). These musicals feature unmotivated protagonists and discontinuous editing styles redolent of avant-garde and European Art Cinema. In their tendency toward ambivalence and ambiguity they deconstruct their traditionally optimistic genre, resulting in a uniquely revisionist form of the film musical.

In addition to being a director and choreographer for both film and musical theater, Fosse was also a dancer, screenwriter, and actor. He won an unprecedented eight Tony Awards for choreography, as well as one for direction. He was nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning one. Fosse’s first film, Sweet Charity, starring Shirley MacLaine, is an adaptation of the Broadway musical he had directed and choreographed. His second film, Cabaret, won eight Academy Awards, including Best Director, which he won over Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather starring Marlon Brando, as well as Oscars for both Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey for their roles.

About the Liberal Arts Sabbatical Series Lectures

The Sabbatical Speaker Series was established to provide a venue for sharing research completed by Liberal Arts faculty while on sabbatical leaves. It is a sampling of the diverse work and excellence of IUPUI faculty, and an opportunity to come together for an hour of intellectual exploration with students, alumni, faculty, staff, retirees and friends from the community.

About the speaker

The academic interests of Dr. Dennis Bingham, professor of English and director of the film studies program, include film theory, gender theory, film biography and stardom and acting. In 2011, Professor Bingham was a finalist for the Theatre Library Association Richard Wall Memorial Award for “Whose Lives Are They Anyway: The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre” published by Rutgers University Press. He has published numerous articles and entries on Clint Eastwood and Biopics on Oxford Bibliographies Online.