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+32 (0)2 229 38 69

Middaglijnstraat 10, 1210 Brussels


Online Symposium: “Gender & Diversity in Contemporary Yoga”

This one-day symposium brings together scholars investigating yoga and other body-mind-spirit practices from a critical gender and diversity perspective.

Research has shown how Yoga in the contemporary West often caters for members of the white, urban middle-class, among which a majority of women, who seek a healthy life-style, relief from a stressful professional environment and/or personal development. Critical scholarship has pointed out the compliance of this kind of healthist and individual-oriented practices with neoliberal culture and its demands for self-management and self-optimization. Yet, from an intersectional perspective, feminist and critical race scholars have denounced the restrictive and exclusivist health and beauty ideals yoga upholds with the typical yogi being young, white, slim, sexy and able-bodied.

Expanding on this research, this symposium presents empirical, qualitative studies that investigate these dynamics in contemporary Western yoga or other body-mind-spirit settings and/or explore diverse forms of practice and resistance. Indeed, phenomenological approaches have uncovered how yoga, by developing inner awareness and approaching the body as one’s sanctuary, can be a means for acting against consumerist and restrictive (female) body-objectification. Moreover, initiatives are investigated that diverge from neoliberal exclusivist yoga and other BMS practices such as activist yoga, donation-based yoga, yoga or mindfulness for specific groups (for instance, older women, disabled people, migrant or refugee communities, etc.).

The symposium deals with the European context, which, from a gender & diversity perspective, remains understudied compared to North-America. Attention is also given to religion/spirituality, an often forgotten dimension in intersectional research which is particularly useful for interrogating the liberatory potential of body-mind-spirit practices in contemporary Europe’s post-secular climate.

Please register if you wish to attend by sending an email to carine.plancke@ugent.be.


Dr. Carine Plancke and Prof. Dr. Chia Longman