- Japan Society of Sport Anthropology
- スポーツ人類學研究 (ISSN:13454358)
- vol.2007, no.9, pp.29-52, 2008
This article intends to describe the contemporary dynamic situation of Yoga as a new "fitness" under the conditions of globalization, based on case studies in modern India. Particular attention will be paid to the question of how Yoga is relished and consumed by different people in different contexts, such as urban, rural, tourist spots and ascetic training places, called ashrams in modern society. Yoga, which was originally an ascetic training, including deeply religious ideas and practices, regards the body as a miniature version of the universe. Throughout its long history, Yoga training has tried to unite this universe by controlling the body. <BR>Even though Yoga was introduced to the Western world in connection with the counter-cultural movement, during the 1970's, its practice had been mostly confined to the Indian subcontinent. However, since the 1990's, people from Hollywood and the fashion industry, i.e. those who are the trendsetters in the world, have begun to give themselves up to Yoga. At the same time, there has been a general increase in the attention being paid to health and nature in the West. This has made Yoga popular as a 'new' fitness and its practice has spread dramatically all over the world. Today, due to the global Yoga boom, Yoga has been brought back from the West to India, where it has been reevaluated as the latest fitness trend. Consequently, it is now becoming popular in modern Indian society. An example of this popularity is the number of fitness clubs which have been established in urban areas, and whose Yoga classes are some of the most popular among many others. Furthermore, some Yoga journals, which are published in the West, are now available in bookshops, and many icons based on Yoga have been used for advertising in the commercial market. In addition, a Yoga camp organized by some religious leaders and held in a stadium attracts thousands of participants. At the same time, many yoga practitioners from around world come to India to learn Yoga deeply, under a Yoga Master, so as to obtain a Yoga teacher's license. <BR>This article will examine the flourishing movement of Yoga as a case study in the global flow of culture in multiple contexts in modern Indian society. The aim of this paper is, firstly, through a description of how local people enjoy and consume Yoga in urban areas, to deconstruct the monolithic image of the relationship between India and Yoga and to illuminate the flourishing of Yoga in modern Indian society, on the horizon of global movements. Secondly, with special attention to the enjoyment of Yoga in rural society and at tourist spots, this paper will clearly point out the situation of Yoga being enjoyed as a health practice and consumable good. Thirdly, while Yoga business and industry in post-industrial societies, including Japan, began to emphasize the connection of Yoga to India in terms of 'authenticity' and 'legitimacy', this paper will explore how Yoga is taught to the foreigners who take a Yoga teacher-training course at one of the most influential and popular yoga ashrams in India, namely Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram, and how they enjoy the way of learning yoga and its process.