Yoga, change and embodied enlightenment
Langøien, Lars Jørun (2012)
Langøien, Lars Jørun
The Donner Institute, Åbo Akademi
Lars Jørun Langøien, Cand. Polit. in social anthropology, is a research fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Having done fieldwork among Western yoga practitioners in Mysore, India, he is currently writing his PhD thesis, exploring the motivations for doing yoga and how the introspection and experience of the practice impacts the practitioners’ minds, bodies and life-worlds. Previously he has done fieldwork in Tokyo, Japan, resulting in the master’s thesis: ’Girls on the bridge: a study of perform-ance and unfolding of meaning through double description in Japanese cosplay’. His main fields of interest in-clude phenomenology, health, anthropological practice and practices of the body, (anthropological) production of knowledge and experience and rituals.
Though it has been claimed that modern yoga retains little of its origins of religious austerity, I will argue that even if yoga as a physical practice has taken a strong position among the modern fitness trends, there are still important links to the philosophical and religious traditions of India – not least in the minds of many of its practitioners. Reorientations of these traditions to more modern settings have an impact on the practitioners’ bodies, and the embodied experience of the practice in turn influences yoga.