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Book: The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization

Chapter: 4. Empowerment and the Articulation of Agency among Finnish Yoga Practitioners

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30128


Yoga structurally shares the reputation of empowering the individual with many other contemporary spiritual and esoteric practices. At the same time, these practitioners also share a tendency to externalize agency and attribute events and individual actions to higher powers or “fate”, or “destiny”. It is sometimes argued that engaging in such “spiritual” practices leads people to minimize their responsibility for their own lives. Thus, agency matters, and this chapter examines how enabled agency is attributed in narratives of Finnish yoga practitioners. How do practitioners view their relationship to their practice and what do they feel that they as individuals gain through it? These questions will be discussed using a notion of agency that emphasizes its socio-cultural intermediateness, focusing in this way on the reported influences behind agency insofar as it is presented as being co-composed of entangled human and non-human actors, on what life-reality is reflected and (re-)constructed, and on what the performing agent aims to construct in relation to others. Instead of the binary view of some critics, we found attributions of enabled agency to the individual to be interwoven with different externalizations thereof, which point towards new strategies that individuals choose to relate themselves to the world they live in.

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