Friday 4 October 18:30 - 20:45

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
10 Thornhaugh Street

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"Yoga in Britain" Book Launch and Reception

Religion & Spirituality

"Yoga in Britain" Book Launch and Reception - a dialogue with Suzanne Newcombe and Mark Singleton

Yoga in Britain reveals how yoga came to be a mainstream activity in the twentieth century. It was transformed from an esoteric concept into something that would be taught to thousands of middle-class women in adult education classes. For the post-war welfare state, yoga was understood as having potential public bene­fit in promoting physical health and wellbeing. This setting is crucial for understanding the methods and expectations found in globally popular forms of yoga. Moreover, yoga has not developed in a linear manner. Old and new forms co-exist, adapting to suit the specific needs of particular populations.

Using extensive archival evidence and oral history interviews, the book reveals the diversity of individuals involved with the popularisation of yoga. At this event, the author, Suzanne Newcombe (Open University and Inform, King’s College London), will be discussing the book in conversation with Mark Singleton (Haṭha Yoga Project, SOAS). This will be followed by a drinks reception.


Suzanne Newcombe

Inform, based in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King's College London, Post-Doc. Suzanne researches yoga and ayurveda from a sociological and social historical perspective. Her previous research has focused on the popularisation of yoga and ayurvedic medicine in Britain and she has published chapters in several edited books on this subject, as well as articles in the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Religion Compass and Asian Medicine. She published Yoga in Britain: Stretching Spirituality and Educating Yogis (2019 Equinox) and is currently editing the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation with Karen O'Brien-Kop at SOAS.

In addition to her research on the Ayuryog project, Suzanne is also a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. She has extensive experience in Sociology of Religion specializing in new and minority religious movements of Asian origin in contemporary Britain and edited a book on Prophecy in the New Millennium, Why Prophecy Persists (2013) with Sarah Harvey. She has made several appearances on BBC radio and television discussing aspects of contemporary yoga practice and other minority religious beliefs and practices.

Mark Singleton

Mark Singleton’s research interests lie in the intersection of tradition and modernity in yoga. His books include Yoga in the Modern World (Routledge 2008, ed. with Jean Byrne); Yoga Body, The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press 2010); Gurus of Modern Yoga (Oxford University Press 2014, ed. with Ellen Goldberg); and Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, January 2017, with Dr. James Mallinson). His work in the Haṭha Yoga Project focuses primarily on the history of physical practices that were incorporated into or associated with yoga in pre-colonial India.


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