Hi everyone! I’ll be presenting some of my research from my dissertation on yoga this Friday, April 10th in Berkeley, CA at the second annual conference held by the Race and Yoga Working Group. The theme this year is Yoga (R?)evolution and Dianne Bondy is going to be one of the keynote speakers. (Can’t wait! I have huge respect for her.) For my presentation I’ll be talking about the feminization of yoga in the 1980s. And good news! If you are in the area and want to attend the event is free to the public. Last year I was lucky enough to be a speaker at the first annual conference, and it was a great event. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you can!
The title of my talk is “The Great Gender Transformation: Feminization of the ‘Authentic’ Yoga Body.” I’ll be touching on the following:
The twenty-first century yoga body is often portrayed as lithe, young, white, affluent, female, and bent into seemingly effortless advanced physical yoga postures with grace and poise. But how did this body and its particular type of movement patterns become representative of yoga in America and, increasingly, throughout the world? Traditionally, yoga was exclusively practiced by men, and up until the 1980s remained a male-dominated field even in the United States. However, by the late 1980s a marked shift began in the gender composition of yogis as well as the gender dominance in the field. Yoga became feminized and increasingly stereotyped as a feminine activity and movement pattern. This paper traces the gender transformation of yoga in the USA from a male-dominated practice to a feminizing and feminine activity. Some background information on the historical precedent of men in yoga is provided followed by a discussion of the feminization of yoga that occurred during the 1980s and into the 1990s. I explain the causes for the dual process of why men increasingly opted out of yoga while at the same time women increasingly opted in, eventually producing a highly polarized demographic group of female yoga practitioners and a dominant cultural understanding of the “authentic” yoga body as female-identified. Finally, I discuss the implications this has on recent efforts by the yoga community to bring men back into yoga.
Love, light, and… yoga ❤