Understanding modern Yoga pedagogy and curriculum: exploring sense-making by senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers

Davies, Andy (2016) Understanding modern Yoga pedagogy and curriculum: exploring sense-making by senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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This study explored senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers’ sense-making in the context of her or his Modern Yoga teacher-training programs. Through senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers’ sense-making of her or his interpretations and applications of non-Western Yoga philosophies and traditions, meaning-making was generated. Sense-making here denotes the participants’ understandings, while meaning-making refers to the understandings that I generated as the researcher. The term Modern Yoga is used in this study to represent a Western understanding and application of non-Western Yoga philosophies and traditions that are referred to here as Premodern Yoga. The aim of this research was to construct a greater understanding and appreciation of senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers’ considerations when conceptualising, planning and implementing Yoga teacher-training. The research questions focused upon the senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers’ spiritual-ethical reflections and her or his pedagogical and curriculum priorities. This research contributes significantly to the body of scholarship related to the pedagogical and curriculum world of Yoga teacher-training and Yoga teaching.

In this trans-philosophical, transnational and transcultural research project, I have sought to disrupt various dichotomous understandings. These binaries were considered under two broader umbrella binaries: East-West and Mind-Body. I drew upon the Sanskrit language to construct neologisms to provide me with a scaffold with which to disrupt the limitations and preferential treatment of either/or thinking of Western and non-Western philosophies and meaning-making, while revealing contextually rich, non-binaristic meaning-making. These neologisms represent an intended important contribution to theoretical and methodological knowledge. The conceptualising and methodological application of these research neologisms afford researchers an insight into re-appreciating traditional research nomenclature.

In this study, face-to-face interviews were conducted in Australia and the United States of America with seven senior Western Yoga teacher-trainers during two dedicated excursions. With the intention of disrupting an East-West binary thinking, I constructed a contextually derived interpretation of narrative research that I have
called the citta-kosha-narrative-restructuring model. This model draws upon the Eastern Yogic construct of kosha and a Western academic way of knowing via narrative research. The kosha model represents the integral, interconnected and interpermeating understanding of the human body. Consequently, this citta-kosha-narrative-re-structuring explored the interview transcripts through five lenses: body, energy, mind, intellectual discernment and spiritual consciousness. The citta-kosha-narrative-re-structuring model represents a further contribution to theoretical and methodological knowledge.

Considering the axiological nature of Yoga and Yoga teaching, the study emphasised ethical considerations and decision-making. Specific compounded Sanskrit terms were used to construct more nuanced, contextually specific ethical deliberations for this study. The emphasis on axiology and ethical considerations and decision-making, and the construction of neologisms to reflect this emphasis, represent a contribution to theoretical and methodological knowledge. The conceptualising and operationalising of the six new terms for ethical deliberation demonstrate the possibility of reconsidering ethical considerations in research.

The findings from this research provide new theoretical insights into the spiritual-ethical considerations of Western Modern Yoga teacher-trainers, highlighting that, although cultural context and nomenclature have shifted from those of Premodern Yoga teachers, the practice and instruction of Yoga still revolve around consciousness development and the union of perceived disconnections. This significant finding supports the argument that Modern Yoga, although it has been influenced by transnational, transcultural, trans-philosophical and syncretic forces, is still perceived and taught as a spiritual practice.

Further, the study identified new theoretical and practice-based insights regarding the participants’ pedagogical and curricular priorities. The findings included the pedagogical importance of language considerations, oration and physical demonstration; the curriculum priorities of developing intention, facilitating reflexivity and creating an embodied, self-discerning Yoga practice; and the importance of incorporating other knowledge in Yoga teacher-training programs. These significant insights provide foundational understandings for future academic discourse in the field of Yoga pedagogy and curriculum design.

In summary, this study has drawn upon Eastern philosophical and theoretical knowledge to interpret senior Western teacher-trainers’ understanding and application of an Eastern Spiritual tradition. Through a trans-philosophical lens, key insights surrounding the pedagogical and curricular priorities of Modern Yoga teacher-training have been established. The challenging of many previously unconsidered binary constructs has effectively rendered Modern Yoga’s pedagogical and curriculum considerations and concerns more academically responsive and theoretically informed. The construction and application of Sanskrit ethical neologisms function as both an ethical barometer for researcher trustworthiness and an analytical data lens, demonstrating the benefit of this trans-philosophical theoretical and methodological approach. The utilisation of the Eastern Yoga kosha model, transposed into an analytical narrative research model, highlights the theoretical and methodological effectiveness of merging Eastern and Western knowledge. The successful construction and application of the Sanskrit neologisms and the citta-kosha-narrative-restructuring framework reinforce the study’s efficacy and potential for innovation for future trans-philosophical research.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education (1 Jul 2013 - 30 Jun 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education (1 Jul 2013 - 30 Jun 2019)
Supervisors: Midgley, Warren; Danaher, Patrick
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2017 05:01
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2018 02:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: pre-modern Yoga; modern Yoga; Yoga teacher-training; neologisms; mind-body; East-West; binaries; sense-making; meaning-making; trans-philosophical research
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130213 Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390199 Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390114 Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/31262

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