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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-50

Medicalization of yoga: A sociological understanding

Department of Sociology, Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ruby Bhardwaj
A-31, IFS Apartments, Mayur Vihar-1, New Delhi - 110 091
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jacs.jacs_8_22

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This paper analyses sociological underpinnings of yoga as complementary therapy in contemporary India. It traces the trajectory of medicalization of yoga through an analysis of the socio-cultural currents that prevailed at different historical epochs. The paper focuses on modern postural yoga as a therapy for physical ailments and fitness. Yoga, as it is experienced today, ensues from the impact of a series of social and cultural forces, both global and national. Gurus such as Vivekananda, Madhavdasji, Krishnmacharya, Kuvalayananda, and Iyengar responded to the pervasive temper of scientific rationality by underplaying the esoteric and mystical elements associated with yoga and accentuating its postural attributes that were scientifically validated to be therapeutic. As a symbol of indigenous cultural heritage, yoga has also been the narrative of protest and resistance against colonial rule and western medicine. With State patronage, yoga is elevated to the position of a recognized medical system under AYUSH, amenable to integration with naturopathy, ayurveda, biomedicine, and other systems of medicine resulting in the proliferation of medical pluralism. Modern postural yoga is secularized, professionalized, democratized, and adaptive. The digitization of yogasanas as cultural heritage and practice of yoga through apps is yet another illustration of its capacity to respond to technological changes and societal demands.

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