This chapter discusses attempts to define yoga that limit it to inside certain categories of belief or behavior, such as “exercise,” “spirituality,” “religion,” or “Hinduism,” and accordingly outside of others. The chapter concludes that a polythetic approach is the most responsible way to define postural yoga. At best, one might suggest that postural yoga refers to a congeries of figures, institutions, ideas, and practical paths involving mental or physical techniques—most commonly meditative, breathing, or postural exercises. It is believed to resolve the problem of suffering and to improve health, both defined in modern terms. It often betrays a desire to repair what is perceived as an imbalance of “body–mind–soul.” Finally, it is tied to mythologies about the historical transmission of knowledge, accumulating around a transnational community that has engaged in and transmitted what participants usually call yoga since the twentieth century.
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