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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Travelers, Translators, and Spiritual Mothers: Yoga, Gender, and Colonial Histories

  • Author(s): Hassan, Narin
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Analyzing the work of women traveling to India in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this essay explores the intersections of gender, race, and colonial history and connects them to contemporary cultures of yoga. It suggests that analyzing gender in colonial contexts provides a way to understand the dynamics of yoga cultures more fully, and to place them within a historical and cultural frame. As a mind-body practice that was initially becoming consumed by Western audiences and by women in the late nineteenth century and that continues to be a potent and popular practice globally, yoga in its various forms and representations can reflect how the dynamics of colonialism endure and are culturally sustained.

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