Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jesse Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Chien-Juh Gu

Third Advisor

Dr. Zoann Snyder


Yoga, gender, qualitative methods, interaction ritual chains, sociology

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In 2015, to the United States, 21 million Americans claimed to be regular practitioners of yoga. Yoga has long been studied by psychologists, therapists, and medical scientists for its ability to affect positive change in people’s lives, particularly in regards to mental and emotional health and well-being. Within the field of sociology, yoga has gained an increasing amount of attention for its ability to help treat chronic eating disorders among women, becoming extremely popular within the subfields of sociology of the body and gender. Additionally, the cultural impact of the transmission of yoga has fascinated social scientists interested in studying globalization, commodification, and appropriation. Yet, the discipline currently lacks a broad understanding of people’s experience with modern, contemporary yoga; how individuals perceive of its impact in their lives, how they create meaning out of the practice, and how social interaction effects, and is effected, by the practice. Using a symbolic interactionist perspective, thesis takes a qualitative approach to the study of yoga, using theories related to symbolic boundaries, rituals, and gender to provide a description of how modern Americans experience the “ancient” religious tradition.