Vol 5 No 2 (2014)

North American Yoga Culture: An Interdisciplinary Vehicle for Female Empowerment

Amanda Christine Nielsen
Athabasca University
Bud Vases in Process
Published November 1, 2014


Western consumer culture strives to dominate North American yoga culture and utilize it as an avenue to control and manipulate consumers and the female body. However, the interdisciplinary nature of yoga and its tools for personal growth and self-empowerment provide women especially with the opportunity to own their bodies and nurture a deep connection with them as well as their minds and spirits. North American yoga culture is composed of elements of acceptance (of self, body, and life), connectedness (to self, others, time, and space), and spiritual awareness (through the recognition of a higher level of being, thinking, and energetic essence as well as aspects of mindfulness). This paper uses an interdisciplinary approach, including perspectives from history, psychology, and cultural studies, as well as embodied learning and feminist perspectives, to provide the reader with an understanding of yoga as a vehicle for empowerment and an opportunity to examine the linkages between body, mind, and spirit. Capitalizing on themes from a recent grounded research study conducted by the author, this paper examines the interdisciplinary influences upon yoga culture in a North American context. The effects of consumer culture on women’s perceptions of themselves, yoga, and North American yoga culture are critically examined and provide grounds for further discussion.