Date of Award

Summer 9-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Caroline Heller

Second Advisor

Meenakshi Chhabra

Third Advisor

David Hansen


Yoga, a vast subject with ancient South Asian roots, is currently enjoying global popularity based largely on its representation as an alternative health care system and/or leisure activity. These depictions often overshadow its potential as a medium to express spiritual development and social justice aims. Extensive studies look at connections between yoga and spirituality, but few delve into how sustained yoga practice might stimulate interest in and action for social change. This study seeks to contribute to ongoing scholarly efforts to fill that gap. It analyzes data collected from 107 survey respondents and 15 interviewees through a theoretical lens encompassing elements of cosmopolitanism thought, Western adult education models, and the panchakoshas (five sheaths) described in the Taittiriya Upaniṣhad. Findings reveal that practitioners experience yoga for self-development, to support ever-broadening conceptions of family, to engage in multiple communities, and to realize universal truths. To conclude the study, I offer a conceptual framework that represents yoga as a lived philosophy consistent with cosmopolitan ideals to balance disciplined self-development with engaged care for making the world a better place.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.






The author owns the copyright to this work.