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Chus Martínez

Stromboli, Italy, July 18, 2015. Photo: Giovanna Silva.

I HARDLY KNOW ANYONE who’s not either doing yoga or planning to take it up. I’d never given this fact a moment’s thought, but it recently struck me that more people than ever are seeking new forms of relaxation, meditative concentration, and somatic control. Though new is not the most apt term: Historically speaking, the popularity of this ancient practice in the West is a case of déjà vu all over again, for yoga was also all the rage at the close of the nineteenth century, when the trend resonated with a widespread fascination with the occult—yogis were viewed as the pop-cultural cousins of magicians or mediums. It’s tempting to propose that this original yoga fad addressed a conceptual void that would later be filled by psychoanalysis and other twentieth-century Western models of self-knowledge, and that yoga’s twenty-first-century resurgence is a result of those models’

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