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Suzanne Newcombe is a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University and a Research Fellow at Inform, based in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London where she works part-time on an ERC Horizon 2020 Project entitled 'Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia'.
January 2020 - present
- Managing Director
July 2015 - May 2020
Inform, based in Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London
- PostDoc Position
Yoga in Britain reveals how yoga came to be an accepted, mainstream activity in the twentieth century. During this period, yoga transformed from an esoteric concept into a 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 bene...
How should we read claims about health and well-being which defy common sense? Are claims of extreme longevity to be viewed as fraudulent, or as pushing the boundaries of possibility for the human body? This article will consider the narrative and context around a particularly well-publicized incident of rejuvenation therapy, advertised as kāyakalp...
The word yoga refers to a multifaceted array of beliefs and practices. Yoga is twinned with sāṃkhya as one of the six orthodox darshanas (worldviews) of Hindu philosophy, with Patañjali’s Yogaśāstra having been codified by around the 5th century of the Common Era. A distinct body of texts known as the haṭhayoga corpus appears around the 11th centur...
Yoga is now found in urban centres and rural retreats across the world as well as in its historical home in the Indian subcontinent. What is now practiced as yoga across the globe has a long history of transnational intercultural exchange and has been considered by some as an outgrowth of Neo-Hinduism. Although the popularisation of yoga is often c...
Wild and diverse outcomes are associated with transmutational practices: the prolongation of life, the recovery of youth, the cure of diseases, invincibility, immortality, enlightenment, liberation from the cycle of rebirths, and unending bliss. This range of outcomes is linked to specific practices taught in separate traditions and lineages in med...
This special issue of Religions of South Asia is born out of this expanding area of study and collaboration between contemporary practitioners and established academic methods of study. The articles in this volume were all first presented at an international ‘Yoga Darśana, Yoga Sādhana’ conference hosted in Kraków, Poland in May 2016. The Krakow co...
From the perspective of modern yoga studies, magic and witchcraft have largely held the place of disinherited siblings. This chapter will explore how the development and contemporary practice of yoga in Britain overlaps and parallels the practice of magic. It will explore overlapping networks where those interested in the occult, esoteric, and non-...
Many traditions of health and well- being with ostensibly ‘Eastern’ origins have become both accessible and popular in ‘the West’. This chapter will first outline contemporary use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and then briefly put into context the rise of its popularity in ‘the West’. For the purposes of this chapter ‘the West’ wi...
Modern and Global Ayurveda provides an overview of the relatively recent history of Ayurveda in its modern and globalized forms. One of the traditional medical systems originating on the Indian subcontinent, Ayurveda is fast becoming a transnational phenomenon. Contributors to this volume include both scholars and practitioners of Ayurveda. The wid...
In Britain, yoga became an increasingly popular group activity from the 1960s onwards in government-subsidised adult-education evening classes. Although yoga classes were open to everyone, women tended to make up 70 to 90 per cent of the student base of most classes as well as the majority of yoga teachers. This article briefly outlines how yoga be...
This article addresses the under-researched, but very popular activity of yoga in contemporary Britain and attempts a preliminary sociological exploration of the religious and spiritual beliefs of yoga practitioners. A sample of dedicated practitioners of the Iyengar method of yoga was chosen for a case study. It was found that the sample practitio...
This timeline was originally an appendix for my PhD dissertation 'A Social History of Yoga and Ayurveda in Britain, 1950-1995' in the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, 2008. This research was made possible in part by a grant from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council whose support I would like to gratefully acknowledge. I very much welcome any corrections and suggestions for additions to the timeline. However, please restrict suggestions to the theme of Modern Yoga in Britain