Does American Individualism Change Yoga's Original Purpose?
Strode, Ronald B.
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This study seeks to examine how American institutions and value orientations affect the spirituality of yoga. Secondary data is used to argue how social institutions exercise their power to influence the behaviors of individuals. The works of thinkers such as Robert Bellah, Wapola Rahula, and Michel Foucault are discussed to support theories on how norm conformance is used to maintain social order. Individuals in America are influenced by a variety of social institutions with each having its own agenda-serving purpose. Institutions use individuals’ “self-interests” to promote specific agendas, and individuals are unconsciously serving as “tools” to legitimize these institutions. The results of this study show that individuality is an illusion in that it is surrendered to powerful interests. Power exercised by institutions causes the individual to conform to standards based on the goods and services that they promote. Through this social process, American institutions have even transformed yoga’s spirituality into a commodity designed to increase the usefulness of the “individual body.”