chapter  14
Yoga: cultural pedagogy and embodied ethics
Pages 16

This chapter explores yoga as a cultural pedagogy. It begins with the explicit instructional discourse typical of a yoga session and shows that an imperative to pause, breathe and observe marks a shift in experiential focus (from external to ‘internal’) and pedagogic relations (between the taught and the teacher). However, this shift also requires that, in considering yoga as cultural pedagogy, two simultaneous moves are made. One, a move from a formal sense of the pedagogic in order to grapple with the wider complexities of a cultural pedagogy, and two, a move that augments the linguistic analysis of instructional genre with an exploration of the embodied processes of a yoga class, examining the ways the capacity for stillness and quiet observation are taught. Further, though, the philosophy of yoga makes clear that the point of yoga pedagogy is not a stilling of the body and mind per se but rather the development of an ethical disposition. Drawing on the work of Kelly Oliver, I argue that yoga invites one into the process of ‘witnessing’ – addressing and being addressed by the body. This chapter argues that we need a layered account that embraces the discursive, embodied and ethical dimensions of yoga in understanding the cultural pedagogy of yoga.