International Journal of Indic Religions


This article contains a brief analysis of the trajectory of Yoga within the Brazilian cultural universe – a context in which the ancient practice developed in India starts to create new identities. Yoga tradition has acquired its own features in Brazil due to peculiarities of our cultural heritage. Although many Brazilian teachers insist on the need to value certain practices because of their "purity”, "originality" and "fidelity to Indian tradition", we consider the reverse process to be more important from a historical point of view: the constitution of a "Brazilian Yoga" which is the result of a particular interpretation of Indian Yoga tradition in Brazil based on our historical specificities. It is precisely the sum of these specificities – which, since the beginning of our colonization, acted in the shaping our bodies, our beliefs and the way we relate to the world – that will be analyzed in our article. Our central argument will be that through the lenses of some constitutive elements of Brazilian identity, Yoga has been, since the mid-twentieth century, “reinvented” by Brazilian culture. We consider Brazilian Yoga to be a rich product of our socio-cultural context, being also a contribution to the story of an ancient Indian tradition that is still alive and which is continuously reinvented by many cultures around the globe. Throughout the text, we will approach some questions related to this topic: is it possible to identify, in Brazil, a relationship with spirituality and the body that could be considered distinct from the one developed in the United States, territory where Yoga first landed in the West? Which elements of our nationality would actually be relevant to understand whether "corporeality" is linked to a Brazilian spirituality? How do these elements relate to the construction process of Brazilian Yoga? In order to provide input for these considerations, we will start with a discussion of the arrival of Yoga in the West, and then proceed to observe how this process occurred in Brazil.