Over three sessions Suzanne explores how yoga came to Britain, covering the individuals and movements that influenced the exchange between the yoga from India, and the cast of characters in Britain who eagerly received these exotic ideas that have become part of mainstream, modern life.
- Session 1: Suzanne introduces British travelogues from India in the seventeenth century, the influences of colonial India and the Theosophical Society, Watkins Bookshop, Jiddu Krishnamurti, the physical culture movement, the presentations of yogic powers and how medical science searched for answers before penicillin, the first appearance of yoga on British television in the 1940’s and Paul Brunton.
- Session 2: We hear about the importance of B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, Gerald Yorke and the Inner London Education Authority, Swami Sivananda, the first yoga studios in Britain, Pattabhi Jois and Derek Ireland.
- Session 3: Suzanne emphasises the importance of The Beatles, The Asian Music Circle, the hippie trail, the arrival of Indian gurus, Gandalf’s Garden, drug culture and the expansion of consciousness, Centre House, Yogini Sunita, Wilfred Clark and the Wheel of British Yoga and the contradictions between tradition and authenticity.
Suzanne Newcombe is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University (UK) where she researches modern yoga from a sociological and social historical perspective. Raised in Kansas, Suzanne became fascinated by religion which became a formal focus of study as an undergraduate at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Exploring living religion further, she completed an MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society in the Sociology Department of the London School of Economics. Her PhD study was in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge where she researched the popularisation of yoga and ayurvedic medicine in Britain. Suzanne has broad and active research interests in the sociology and social history of religion and extensive specialist knowledge in new and minority religious movements in modern and contemporary Britain and the modern history of yoga. Her monograph on Yoga in Britain was published by Equinox in 2019, she also recently edited with Karen O’Brien-Kop the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation (2021). Suzanne is the Honorary Director of Inform based at Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London, an independent charitable organisation which provides information about minority religions and sects which is as accurate, up-to-date and as evidence-based as possible. She is founding editor of the Journal of Yoga Studies (2017-present) and the Modern Yoga Research website (2009-present). Between 2015-2020 she was part of a 5-year project funded by the European Research Council (Horizon 2020) entitled ‘Medicine, Immortality and Moksha: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia’, see: http://www.ayuryog.org/ for more details.