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New Horizons in Philosophy and Sociology

Edited By Hülya Yaldir and Güncel Önkal

What is our responsibility as scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the face of global issues threatening humanity today? This book provides a platform for an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural dialogue among philosophers and sociologists on the most pressing global issues facing humanity today. Combining the critical thinking of philosophy with sociological methods and researches, this volume offers fresh and stimulating perspectives with regard to various issues including environmental degradation, democracy, gender and economic inequalities, religion, war and peace.

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Rendezvous of Turkish Secularists with Yoga: Self-Inquiry Attempts in the Midst of Spirituality, Religion and Politics


1 Introduction

Religion has always been a controversial issue in Turkey. The way people live Islam (or not) is not only perceived as a manifestation of their religiosities but also as one of their political stances. While this differentiation has been sharpening due to the current politics, a new discussion started a few years ago; pointing out the need to rethink the concepts of secularity, religiosity and spirituality in Turkey. Yoga studios stand at the heart of this discussion. On one hand, yoga is becoming more and more popular. On the other, the State is adopting some contentious measures regulating yoga studios including the ban on the use of religious symbols. Some accuse yoga studios of being missioners of “foreign” religions. Others try to prove that yoga is totally “secular”. This chapter, parting from the current discussions around yoga studios, focuses on the question how yoga practitioners experience spirituality and religion through their self-inquiry journeys. It aims to give voice to yoga practitioners who are suggested to be a group of people lingering in the blurry areas of the socio-political compartmentalization based on religious affiliations. It is also designed as a pre-study for a wider research aiming to understand secularity, religiosity and spirituality in Turkey.

2 About the methodology

For the research a series of in-depth interviews with yoga practitioners has been realized. Here, it should be noted that, I, myself, as the writer of this chapter, have been practicing yoga for...

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