Middle Class Women Join Evening Classes
Yoga in Britain - Stretching Spirituality and Educating Yogis - Suzanne Newcombe
Suzanne Newcombe [+]
Open University and Inform, King's College London
Suzanne Newcombe is a senior lecturer in religious studies at the Open University and director of the educational charity Inform based at King’s College London. She recently published the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (2021), co-edited with Karen O’Brien-Kop.
This chapter focuses on those attending yoga classes in the adult education context during the 1960s, primarily married, middle-class women. The venue of adult education evening classes provided a safe environment for women to achieve some respite and reorientation towards their lives. Yoga as exercise in adult education contexts also drew upon established forms of female physical education. The popularity of yoga in this period can be partially explained by the strength of a social pressure that women as responsible for their own health and that of their entire family. Yoga was promoted as a way to make women better wives and mothers while encouraging, in a socially acceptable way, feelings of freedom and autonomy.