Podcasts

Historical, Popular, and Scholarly Constructions of Yoga

In this interview, we discuss the history and development of yoga in its South Asian contexts, and then examine its transformations across the globe into the contemporary era.

In its earliest uses, the word “yoga” meant “yoke,” primarily yoking a warhorse to a chariot. In the classical period, yoga took on a variety of other meanings, including yoking the mind-body complex through meditative practices, such as breath control and mantras, to achieve liberation. Yoga was an analysis of perception and cognition, whereby to know something is to be it; higher states of consciousness could expand individuals into the universe and even to omniscience. Yoga also included achieving superpowers through sexual and other bodily alchemical practices, allowing practitioners to see through things and to take over other human bodies. In tantric yoga, which developed during the medieval period, the goal became not union with the absolute but rather to become a living god, a yogi, through occult practices. In hatha yoga, practitioners regulated their breath and channeled vital fluids within the body, via chakras, in order to achieve awakening and supernatural powers. Contemporary forms of yoga as postural practice developed from Hindu Vedanta, Indian nationalism, the Orientalist resurrection of the Yoga Sutras, Theosophy, Swedish gymnastics, and other sources, and constitute a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of yoga. Even more recently, the study of yoga in North America has been riven by debates about what counts as “authentic” yoga and who gets to make such claims authoritatively, as the Hindu America Foundation’s Take Back Yoga campaign can attest.

You can download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, yoga mats, tantric guides, and more.

ISKCON And When New Religions Aren’t So New Anymore

As a follow-up to our interview with Kim Knott on ISKCON in Britain, this podcast is a roundtable discussion at the ISKCON 50 conference at Bath Spa University, 2016.

new

During this roundtable, scholars consider the subjective nature of the term ‘new’ in the study of New Religious Movements. Using the particular movement of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) as their main example, panelists consider the future of the movement and similar NRMs in contemporary society, the limitations of the category of ‘NRM’, and what the future may pose for the academic study of movements such as ISKCON.

The RSP want to thank Bath Spa University for supporting these recordings, especially to Catherine Robinson and Alan Marshall.

You can download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, pogs, neon slap bracelets, and other 90’s memorabilia.

ISKCON In Britain

This year the ISKCON Movement (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) celebrates its 50th anniversary. Fittingly, for this podcast Kim Knott provides an overview of the Hare Krishna movement in Britain from its inception in 1966 to the present day.

Recognisable by their distinctive appearances and chants, ISKCON practitioners grew in number in the UK due to a number of reasons, ranging from young people’s fascination with Indian spirituality in the 1960s, to its celebrity endorsements from George Harrison and the Beatles.

George Harrison with ISKCON

George Harrison with ISKCON

Knott considers the most notable events in ISKCON’s fifty year history in Britain, and discusses how the movement has adapted to British lifestyle, and what the future may hold for ISKCON education.

You can download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, flowers, sitars, and more.