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Book: Yoga in Britain

Chapter: Diversity of Practice and Practitioners

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.33793


This chapter consists of a thematic exploration of the motivations of yoga practitioners in twentieth century Britain, drawing on primary source literature and over thirty oral-history interviews. The most popular reasons for practicing yoga related to experiences of greater integration, relaxation and concentration. The emphasis was on experiences of greater personal health and happiness. These motivations were usually, but not always, separate from any specific theological beliefs. However, many practitioners did experience their involvement with yoga as ‘more than physical’ and some became associated with specific theological expressions of yoga. The chapter argues that spiritual beliefs were seen as a private, personal concern and the public education context of yoga de-emphasized the religious message. Therefore, a presentation of yoga developed in twentieth century Britain that allowed for a diversity of private interpretation, within an expectation of secular public pedagogy.

Chapter Contributors

  • Suzanne Newcombe ( - shn44) 'Open University and Inform, LSE'