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Augspurger, Jens Uwe (2024) '‘Yoga Helps!?’ Problems between Efficacy and Legitimization.' Religions of South Asia, 18 (1-2). pp. 169-189.

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This paper explores the role of health discourse from yoga providers and biomedical research in popularising transglobal yoga and legitimizing claims about its health benefits. As contemporary yoga is more widely associated with physical and mental health benefits, it is frequently positioned as an antidote to the many perceived ailments of modern life. My analysis of discourses surrounding yoga’s effectiveness reveals a serious epistemological lacuna: I argue that biomedical impact studies on yoga often fall short in deconstructing the unique contributions of yoga as a practice and its historic origins. Consequently, contemporary yoga modalities are often presented as a several thousand years old tradition to achieving good health. These oversights inadvertently perpetuate an uncritical assertion of yoga’s distinct originality, providing potential legitimacy to extravagant health claims and unwarranted generalizations mistakenly attributed to the entire spectrum of ‘yoga’. The resulting positive perception of yoga poses a potential hazard to practitioners and is at risk of being misused as a vehicle for dubious political or financial gains. I conclude with considerations on how future research on yoga’s effectiveness could intend to understand not only if yoga practice is beneficial to health, but also which aspects of it, and how.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: efficacy, haṭha yoga, health benefits, biomedical research, effectiveness
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
SOAS Doctoral School
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
ISSN: 17512689
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2024 07:00
Related URLs: https://journal ... icle/view/25832 (Publisher URL)

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