The Body of Yoga: A Feminist Perspective on Corporeal Boundaries in Contemporary Yoga Practice

Emanuela Mangiarotti


The practice of yoga has grown globally in the past 20 years, with professionals, publications and practitioners furthering it as a way to improve physical and mental health, reduce stress, lead a more conscious and productive life and experience mental and physical wellbeing. Widely regarded as a practice ‘for all’, yoga questions the authority of norms and practices produced by institutionalised religions, Western biomedicine and sports, tracing the foundations of a personal and collective politics of the body. This discourse of accessibility – integral to the way yoga is marketed today – is the point of departure for a sociological perspective on contemporary yoga. By inscribing itself in a seemingly countercultural ethics of and from the body, yoga is entangled in the relations of power in which bodies are immersed. In that respect, gendered configurations are crucial to the way the body of yoga participates in tracing corporeal, spatial, social and cultural boundaries. Feminist reflections on corporeality can unravel the workings of power exercised by and upon bodies, calling into question the very processes through which they operate in contemporary yoga practices. Crucial to this approach is the tension between the fixity of corporeal normativity and the experience of movement, change and transformation that underscores the practice of yoga.

Article received: December 16, 2018; Article accepted: January 23, 2019; Published online: April 15, 2019; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Mangiarotti, Emanuela. "The Body of Yoga: A Feminist Perspective on Corporeal Boundaries in Contemporary Yoga Practice." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 18 (2019): 79–88. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i18.294


yoga; body; corporeal boundaries; feminist theory; materialisation

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