Student Question

How does Shreena Niketa Gandhi's discussion on yoga in popular culture, controversies, and conflicts relate to Gregory Price Grieve's discussion about Buddhist smartphone apps?

Quick answer:

Shreen Niketa Gandhi's discussion on yoga in popular culture relates to Grieve's discussion on Buddhist smartphone apps because they discuss ways in which American popular culture has commodified the religious practice of yoga. The secular way America promotes yoga has caused conflicts with religious groups. The app buddhify promotes yoga for mental wellness, and Grieves explains that the app can help people be calm and compassionate. Gandhi can help readers see that buddhify is profiting off of religion.

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Shreen Niketa Gandhi explains that the way yoga has been incorporated into American popular culture has shifted the practice’s meaning. Gandhi discusses how Americans commodified yoga, meaning that they turned it into something that can be bought or sold. In America, the media promotes yoga as a practice that is a good form of healthy exercise and an activity that can promote mental wellness.

Gandhi explains that through this process of commodification, yoga has been separated from its role in religious traditions. In America, yoga is now associated with White narratives. Gandhi acknowledges that yoga’s presence in popular culture has been beneficial for some, but she ultimately stresses the importance of recognizing how the cultural commodification of yoga is rooted in Eastern exoticism.

Gandhi’s discussion of yoga’s secular presence in popular culture is important to consider when learning about yoga applications like buddhify. These types of applications profit off of the promotion a historically religious practice. Gregory Price Grieve explains that the application buddhify can help users become more calm and compassionate through moments of mindfulness. This is a valid claim, but Gandhi’s work can help us understand that the applications’ promotion of mindfulness through yoga is also a form of commodification and cultural appropriation.

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How does Gandhi's discussion of yoga relate to Grieve's discussion of the smartphone app buddhify?

Gandhi’s discussions about yoga are quite similar to Gregory Price Grieve’s discussions about the application buddhify. Gandhi’s practice of yoga allowed him to clear his mind and work for long periods of time without tiring. Yoga also allowed Gandhi to focus on compassion and empathy. Buddhify is an application with a focus on providing moments of meditation and mindfulness for busy users. Gregory Price Grieve discussed the application in his article “Meditation on the Go: Buddhist Smartphone Apps as Video Game Play.”

Grieve’s discussion of buddhify suggests that the smartphone application can lead to effects similar to the effects of yoga. For example, Grieve mentions that the application’s experience can promote “nonjudgemental awareness” of thoughts and emotions. This awareness of emotion can help the user become more calm, compassionate, and empathetic.

Grieve also discusses how the way that the user interacts with buddhify is like a ritual, which disconnects the user from conventional activity. This is similar to Gandhi’s discussion of yoga, and how yoga can promote detachment or the lack of mental disturbance. Gandhi stressed the importance of peace and of non-violent resistance. He himself used yoga to calm his mind and find such inner peace. Overall Grieve suggests that buddhify can promote the same peace of mind that Gandhi thought that yoga could.

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