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Suggestive Therapeutics: New Thought's Relationship to Modern Yoga

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Modern, transnational yoga in the early twentieth century often defined itself in terms and ideologies borrowed from the popular current of esoteric American Protestantism known as New Thought. Like its forebear Transcendentalism, the New Thought movement was itself receptive to Indian ideas, albeit radically reworked to fit the doctrine of divinised self-hood and cosmic healing that it purveyed. Such adaptations were dialectically reabsorbed by exponents of the yoga renaissance, in a mutually reinforcing, cross-cultural rewriting of the theoretical bases and practices of yoga. New Thought provided a convenient and familiar spiritual lexicon with which to convey the arcane truths of yoga to Europeans, Americans and (increasingly) modern Hindus. The result was a new understanding of yoga in terms of the cult of positive thinking, personal power and affluence, and health through perfect harmony with the universe.


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