Supple Bodies, Healthy Minds: Yoga, Psychedelics and American Mental Health

In “Supple Bodies, Healthy Minds: Yoga, Psychedelics and American Mental Health,” Lucas Richert and Matthew DeCloedt chart the entanglement of yoga and psychedelics in America during the first three quarters of the twentieth century, paying special attention to the countercultural 1960s, when the two became widely popular amongst a generation of primarily middle class, white Americans. Arguing that practitioners of yoga and users of psychedelics were seeking experiences that reframed their worldviews and themselves (193), Richert and DeCloedt offer a contribution to the history of mental health that focusses on the cultural role of alternative health. Noting how psychedelics and yoga were seen as complementary and how some responses to this interrelation were criticised at the time for their problematic cultural appropriation of Eastern spiritual language and metaphors (196), Richert and DeCloedt argue that this interest in experimentation nevertheless resulted in an America that grew more open to novel ideas. While this survey of the cultural importance of yoga and psychedelics in America traces a history that sheds much light on the interrelations between these two practices, the authors end their discussion by pointing out that more research needs to be conducted to situate the two more adequately in respect to ideas about mental health throughout the twentieth century.

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