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"Tuning-in" to Kundalini Yoga: Physio-sonic Experiences in a Pittsburgh Yoga Studio

Decker, Alison (2011) "Tuning-in" to Kundalini Yoga: Physio-sonic Experiences in a Pittsburgh Yoga Studio. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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[img] Audio (MP3) (Example 1. Har Mantra)
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[img] Audio (MP3) (Example 2. Adi Mantra (Phrase 2))
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[img] Audio (MP3) (Example 3. Excerpt of Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo)
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[img] Audio (MP3) (Example 4. Heart Exercise)
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Kundalini Yoga classes in the United States have offered a holistic yoga practice with particular emphasis on chant (mantra) since the late 1960s. The use of the voice assumes a central position in Kundalini Yoga as various forms of mantra, sound intentionally uttered to alter ones state of consciousness, are incorporated in every class. The ways in which mantra is used in Kundalini Yoga presents epistemological questions concerning the ways sound shapes participants' experiences of the yoga class itself, of their own bodies, and more broadly of their own mind-body states of being. Is it possible to discover what it means for Kundalini Yoga participants to add to a soundscape with their own voices? How important is each element of a Kundalini Yoga soundscape to the participants (i.e. breathing, mantra, background music), and how might they think and talk about Kundalini soundscapes? An ethnographic case study within a weekly Kundalini Yoga class in Pittsburgh demonstrates the way its soundscapes can shape participants' sensory experiences by simultaneously restricting their fields of vision and redefining what it means to "listen." Building on theoretical approaches drawn from phenomenology, this study explores kinesthetic experience by suggesting that the ways in which the sense of one's physical state is intertwined with hearing in Kundalini Yoga (physio-sonic experience) enables practitioners to access a deeper level of emotional and physical consciousness which is activated and mediated by sound. Through a repositioning of the body as the center of ethnomusicological fieldwork, this thesis analyzes physio-sonic experiences of Kundalini Yoga activities, illuminating ways to listen and engage with sound that join awareness of mind and body. Such experiences have lead regular participants to conceive of Kundalini Yoga practice not only as a way to balance and refine their whole body-mind, but even in some cases to conceive of the practice as a model for how to approach life outside of the yoga studio.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHelbig, Adrianaanh59@pitt.eduANH59
Committee MemberWeintraub, Andrew Nanwein@pitt.eduANWEIN
Committee MemberYung, Bellbyun@pitt.eduBYUN
Date: 27 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 November 2010
Approval Date: 27 January 2011
Submission Date: 10 December 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: body-studies; mind-body; phenomenology; physio-sonic
Other ID:, etd-12102010-091818
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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