Smith, S., Atencio, M.
“Yoga is yoga. Yoga is everywhere. You either practice or you don’t”: a qualitative examination of yoga social dynamics
(2017) Sport in Society, pp. 1-18. Article in Press.
Within the context of yoga’s increasing popularity, the prevailing view that yoga is ‘good for everyone’ is often perpetuated by participants. This view is derived from popular media portrayals and activities, as well as scientific research purporting yoga’s health benefits for all citizens. This paper accordingly investigates these dominant claims reproduced about yoga practise in the United States using a qualitative study involving five practitioners. We specifically invoke Michel Foucault’s concepts of discourse and governmentality to interrogate how yogic ‘truths’ are negotiated, taken up, and reproduced by several participants in the San Francisco area. Five in depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with a diverse demographic sample of yoga participants. Our findings suggest that these various individuals invested in and reproduced the ideals of social inclusion and multicultural diversity with the accompanying view that yoga operated as a community or ‘family’. The practitioners subsequently acknowledged specific barriers and instances of exclusive practises within yoga and its communities. Yet, in some cases the participants countered that these perceptions of exclusion and barriers to practise could be overcome by individual choice-making; this latter view implicates a specific mode of neo-liberal self-governance. Our analysis therefore suggests that the yoga participants invested in and reproduced ideals of individualism and meritocracy relative to normative neo-liberal yoga discourses. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
California, human, human tissue, individuality, perception, physician, qualitative research, semi structured interview