(University  of Munich, Germany)


“ ‘It’s Time to Give Back!’ Competitive Charity in Today’s Global Yoga”

“It’s time to give back!” is part of the founding myth of the Yoga Aid World Challenge, an event – in its fifth year now – of public yoga practice of hundreds and thousands of people across nearly thirty countries worldwide on a specific day. An Indian yoga guru uttered the cited claim, and an Australian-Japanese yoga teacher couple interpreted it as a call to go for donations through yoga practice and invented this global fundraising event. The event is remarkable in many regards: yoga teacher teams compete for donations. The practicing of āsanas takes mostly place in public spaces, with hundreds of people practicing at the same time. Donations of 1,48 Million Euro were transferred to charities as recently as September 2012. The talk will examine the political economy of this new global niche of yoga. What makes neoliberal elements, such as competition, permeate this yoga, and why is self-centeredness supplemented by altruistic behaviour also resulting in monetary contributions? How can these findings be interpreted? Has this emerging global yoga to be conceived as part of a charity culture that reacts on the present crisis of the financial markets and on feelings of insecurity and interconnectedness?