Yoga, fertile ground for conspiracy theories

Well-being, spirituality, awakening and … conspiracy? Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, conspiracy theories have plagued societies, seeping into its deepest strata. Yoga does not seem to be spared.

On social networks, the phenomenon is striking. A number of influencers from the yoga and ‘wellness’ world are using online platforms to share conspiratorial ideas, including those of QAnon –this conspiratorial community from the United States, born on the 4chan forum.

Their large audience, like Krystal Tini (more than 150,000 subscribers on Instagram), allows them to reach a large number of people. The latter regularly publishes posts on yoga and launched in March 2020 in content qualifying Covid-19 as «fake news», matched with #qpost, #qanon and #qarmy.

Similar examples are numerous. Yoga teacher Guru Jagat (63,000 Instagram followers) invited QAnon conspiracy theorist Kerry Cassidy for an interview, precise Wired. Stephanie Birch, also yoga and meditation teacher (55,000 subscribers) integrated in the middle of his posts on spiritual awakening the hashtag WWG1WGA, one of the slogans of QAnon.

Interviewed by the BBC, Seane Corn, a yoga teacher, admits to having noticed a change in behavior on the part of her colleagues, but also of her students, since the Covid-19. “They would start sending me information about Big Pharma, which then led to information related to Bill Gates, then sex trafficking.”, she explains.

The “pastel QAnon”

The phenomenon of conspiracy theories which abound in the midst of content on “well-being”, surrounded by images of landscapes and spiritual phrases even has a name: the “pastel QAnon”. A kind of QAnon in Instagram sauce, surfing on the aesthetics of the platform and the codes of yoga.

How to explain this trend? For Matthew Remski, host of a podcast on the link between plots and New Age beliefs, the “well-being” movement is fertile ground for this kind of idea. Yoga actually shares three beliefs with conspiracy theories: everything is connected, nothing happens without a reason and nothing is as it appears, specifies the American media.

Make no mistake, the majority of yoga practitioners are far from being conspirators. For Cécile Guerin, researcher at theInstitute for Strategic Dialogue, those who believe in conspiracy theories are in fact “A minority in the world of yoga and well-being”, she explains to the BBC. But it would still be a “Active minority”.

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