Abstract

Around the turn-of-the-twentieth-century yoga took on an American mantle, developing into India’s first “global brand” of physical culture. Physical educators became implicated in this transnational exchange adopting aspects of yoga into their programs and activities, though there has been an insufficient attempt to piece together the sum and pattern of their intersecting influences. This paper explores how adopted Eastern cultural practices such as yoga gained traction on American shores and entered the fabric of everyday and institutional life, including the curricula of higher education in the late nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth century. It then describes how American physical educator Josephine L. Rathbone came to draw inspiration and knowledge from Indian gurus about the yoga postures she would incorporate in the first and rather significant program of corrective physical education at Teachers College, Columbia University during the 1930s and 1940s. As an early pioneer of the evolution of Ling’s medical gymnastics into a therapeutic stream of physical activity which formed an important branch of physical education, Rathbone was instrumental in maintaining a critical link with physical therapy and medicine, facilitating transnational connections and networks while pushing open a door to mind-body practices from the east. Her project was a small but illuminating aspect of the shifting spaces of “bodies in contact” in cross-cultural encounters and complex imperial networks emerging from “modernities” in both East and West.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2155-8455
Print ISSN
0094-1700
Pages
pp. 287-311
Launched on MUSE
2014-11-01
Open Access
No
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