Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies

First Advisor

Jacob Kinnard, Ph.D.


America, Anusara, Consumption, Identity, Tantra, Yoga


This dissertation looks at the creative identity of an American yoga, both rooted in its Indic origins and radically transformed in its U.S. manifestations. It traces the broad historical transactions of yoga in terms of East and West, Secular and Religious, authenticity and idealized conception, as well as provides a critical historical genealogy of Anusara and Sridaiva yoga. Furthermore, the project relates yoga to the identity, power, and knowledge dynamics of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern histories and interpretations of yoga and Tantra, multiple theoretical discourses, and the embodied practices of individuals within Indian and American contexts.

I argue that there is a unique and polysemous yogic identity in America, and that this identity has developed from a messy process of transaction between Indian and Western modes of being and knowing. Furthermore, the current Americanized culture of yoga brings along with it narratives of specific value. American yoga displays a particularly consumptive quality of yogic lifestyle that reflects a cultural atmosphere of reinvention and a merging of profit and personal purpose. American yoga’s identity today is entrepreneurial, branded, business oriented, and marketed for consumption.

This dissertation shows how the American yogic identity is in flux, continuously fracturing and multiplying into various and novel understandings that relate to yoga’s past and to the market value for today’s American consumer. It examines the moving nature of yoga in the American landscape as what Jared Farmer calls a “center of creativity” and as a display of excess and choice. The discussion of yoga is further located in John Friend’s styles of yoga and/or lifestyle practices, Anusara and Sridaiva, as they both redefine and further remove yoga from established Indian markers of identity. My locations as American yogi, as comparativist, as ethnographer, and as a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Marketing also situate this analysis.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Christa Schwind

File size

286 p.

File format





Comparative Religion, American Studies, South Asian Studies