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Embodied Reception

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This volume investigates contemporary bodily practices as a mode of transmitting and receiving South Asian religious and spiritual traditions. The collection’s essays explore processes of adoption and adaptation, and the ways in which somatic religious practices are transplanted into new contexts, acquiring new meanings and generating dynamics of their own. Using the concept of “embodied reception” as a heuristic, the contributions address the dialectic between inscribing knowledge on practitioners’ bodies and opening new avenues for meaning-making through bodily experiences.

The collection assembles a range of empirical cases: contemplative bodily techniques such as postural yoga, mindfulness, and meditation; ritual practices in modern advaitic satsang; South Indian martial art; tantric goddess veneration; contemporary Sāṃkhyayoga practices. The empirical studies span devotional communities, yoga institutions, New Age milieus, and secularized contexts, providing a rich tapestry of contemporary embodied reception in and outside South Asia. Assembling research on embodied forms of reception both in South Asia and in Western countries, the volume advocates for paying close attention to entangled histories of knowledge. Grounded in this empirical outlook, the volume also speaks to theoretical and methodological debates on travelling bodily practices. The contributions suggest theoretical and methodological frameworks ranging from aesthetics of religion to sociology of knowledge, from ethnographical to cognitive approaches.

Published: Sep 1, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Editors’ Preface Henriette Hanky, Knut Jacobsen, István Keul
I. Theoretical and Methodological Considerations
1. Introduction: Embodied Reception - South Asian Spiritualities in Contemporary Contexts Henriette Hanky
2. Training—Sensing—Predicting: Towards a Theory of the Reception of Practices as Embodied Anne Koch
3. The Search for Rigour in Ethnographies of Bodily Practice Theodora Wildcroft
II. Performing Textual Traditions
4. Transpersonal Therapy and a Tantric Temple: The Parātrīśikā in Western Practice István Keul
5. Practicing the Yogasūtra? An Approach to the Analysis of Contemporary Yoga Philosophy’s Somatic Aspects Laura von Ostrowski
6. Lay Sāṃkhyayoga Practices in Contemporary India Knut Jacobsen
III. Bodily Practices on the Move
7. Embodied Receptions and the Creation of B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Prāṇāyāma Suzanne Newcombe
8. Between Patañjali and Psychology: Acem’s ‘Classical, Meditative Yoga' Margrethe Løøv
9. Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ in Performance: Adoptions and Adaptations of a South Indian Martial Art Lucy May Constantini
IV. Embodied Meaning-making
10. Osho in a Nutshell? Dynamic Meditation and the Relationship of Bodily Performance and Meaning-Making Henriette Hanky
11. “Being here fully”: Autoethnographic Approaches to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as an Embodied Group Interaction of an Authentic Self Alan Schink
12. Moving Beyond the Mind Through “Listening by Heart”: The Role of Experience in Modern Advaitic Satsangs Elin Thorsén
13. Aligning the Good and the Beautiful: Yogic Aesthetics in a Globalized World Amanda Lucia