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The Healing GodsComplementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America$
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Candy Brown

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985784.001.0001

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I Bow to the God Within You

(p.45) 2 Yoga
The Healing Gods

Candy Gunther Brown

Oxford University Press

Chapter two takes yoga as a case study to develop the argument that CAM is religious despite its commodification. Although marketed as science, philosophy, secular exercise, nonsectarian spirituality, commodity, and Christian devotional discipline, it is difficult to sever even hatha yoga, Christian yoga, or Pilates from Hinduism and kundalini energy. Yoga is culturally contested because Americans desire physical and spiritual benefits that they associate with yoga—fit human bodies experiencing the sacred—yet feel wary of Eastern religion. Christians do not recognize yoga as religion because it emphasizes bodily practices, or religious embodiment, rather than doctrines or creeds. Christian appropriators are unduly optimistic about the ease of refashioning yoga as Christian simply by relabeling it as such. Practicing asanas and pranayama “just as exercise” in secular settings or Christian churches induces spiritual experiences and provides a gateway to religious yoga and monistic worldviews.

Keywords:   yoga, hatha yoga, christian yoga, pilates, hinduism, kundalini, bodily practices, embodiment, secular exercise, commodification

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