Yogascapes in Japan Conference
I will be presenting an academic paper on this conference. The paper is based on my dissertation for the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation, taught at SOAS, UK. The main attempt is to initiate a discourse about the ways in which contemporary yoga is taught. My elaborations in this field are informed by the findings of educators like Bell Hooks and Paolo Freire. With a revolutionized didactic approach in yoga teacher trainings, yoga could be an impactful motor of social change. The teaching of yoga could be a practice of freedom in the contemporary world.
Through the lens of critical theory, the methodology of yoga teacher trainings as well as the content taught are under scrutiny. My hypothesis is that yoga and yoga pedagogy are embedded in and instrumentalized through a neoliberal agenda. The overemphasis of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra as ‘classical’ mainstream yogic philosophy can be understood as a tool for the conceptualization of yoga in the light of neo-liberalism. To underline this statement the paper reveals how the teaching of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra serves the narrative of individualism and patriarchy.
Building up on the previous analysis, the paper introduces an example of an alternative approach for the methodology of yoga teacher training. An example of a curriculum in yoga philosophy, which could disrupt the reproduction of the neo-liberalist rhetoric is offered. Among others the poetry of the medieval Tantrika Lal Ded constitutes an emancipatory and creative yoga philosophy, which is highly underrepresented in contemporary discourses of yoga. This allows for liberation and awareness instead of the continuation of an oppressive system.