13. Aligning the Good and the Beautiful: Yogic Aesthetics in a Globalized World

Embodied Reception - South Asian Spiritualities in Contemporary Contexts - Henriette Hanky

Amanda Lucia [+-]
University of California, Riverside
Amanda Lucia is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Riverside. Her research engages the global exportation, appropriation, and circulation of Hinduism. She is author of White Utopias: The Religious Exoticism of Transformational Festivals (2020), Reflections of Amma: Devotees in a Global Embrace (2014), and numerous articles.

Description

This paper argues that modern postural yoga—and the spiritual wellness industry more broadly—often exhibits an ideal formulation of the body wherein beauty and morality are co-constituted, each providing an index of the other. Beautiful people, that is to say, people who are deemed beautiful, are celebrated for their presumed moral elevation and spiritual advancement. The demand to present as perfected-wellness-embodied has significant ramifications for wellness influencers (including yogis), not the least of which are financial. This paper argues that there are South Asian antecedents to this type of indexing of beauty and morality in South Asian religious forms, and provides evidence by looking to the bodily descriptions of religious virtuosi in religious and yogic texts, and in the presumptions of Ayurvedic remedies. However, it also shows how the contemporary global yoga industry, in collusion with the beauty industry, has exponentially expanded this latent confluence and now creates moral hierarchies that are based largely in unequal access to economic and social capital.

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Citation

Lucia, Amanda. 13. Aligning the Good and the Beautiful: Yogic Aesthetics in a Globalized World. Embodied Reception - South Asian Spiritualities in Contemporary Contexts. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2024. ISBN 9781800503540. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44432. Date accessed: 07 Feb 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44432. Oct 2024

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