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Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards Paperback – 9 May 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (9 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451641435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451641431
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"In this compelling work of investigative journalism, William Broad exposes the "scientific" claims made about yoga--from its much-vaunted healing powers to yogasms--to scientific scrutiny. "The Science of Yoga" is a wonderful read that any yoga practitioner thirsting for authenticity should study carefully before suiting up."--David Gordon White, author of "Kiss of the Yogini"

About the Author

William J. Broad writes about science for THE NEW YORK TIMES and is the author of TELLER'S WAR and other books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Award-winning journalist William J. Broad debunks many of the usual claims about yoga including the idea that yoga helps people lose weight. He reports on a study showing that "regular yoga practice cut the basal metabolic rate by an average of 13 percent." He adds, "In other words, individuals who took up the discipline would reduce their basal metabolic rate to such an extent that they required less food and fewer calories--or would add pounds if they ate and exercised in the customary manner." (pp. 96-97)

Broad also cites studies proving that "fast or slow breathing does little to change the levels" of oxygen "that enter the bloodstream." "The body's consumption of oxygen" increases "in response to changes of muscle activity, metabolism, and heart rate--not breathing styles." (p. 85) (By the way, peak oxygenation of the body--VO2 max--as Broad points out on pages 52 and 53, is the result of a big, strong heart and has nothing to do with breathing techniques).

Furthermore what helps yogis to go into trance or meditation through the practice of pranayama is the increased level of carbon dioxide in the system (not more oxygen). Paradoxically, fast breathing (e. g., Bhastrika or "bellows breath") decreases the amount of oxygen in the lungs relative to the amount of CO2! I was surprised to learn this. Broad notes, "the surge in carbon dioxide causes the blood vessels in the brain to contract, reducing the flow of oxygen and producing light headedness..." (p. 86)

Earlier in the book Broad notes that "yogis manipulate their breathing to discharge less "carbon dioxide" by taking fewer breaths. (p. 21) (This is a technique that I sometimes use to facilitate meditation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Yoga mum on 6 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a yoga teacher I felt that I 'needed' to read this book, after all the hype it created I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about. After reading it I felt that it was a really well written book with years of research gone into it and an author who has a lot of experience in the yoga world. I liked the fact he went in to the dangers of certain poses but also theres so much more infomation in the book than that, it makes an interesting and enjoyable read. I think its a must for all yoga teachers and enthusiasts and I would highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down until I finished and I hoped that there was more then. Very interesting read if you are interested in anatomy and the physiology of the postures...although the book does not go into this in detail, it provides good references. After having been practising yoga for 4 years, and having turned to asthanga in the last couple of years, yoga has helped with numerous issues, such as recovering from knee surgery and shoulder injury. However, I also noticed some occasional new knee pains and a worry to over-bend and damage my spine and neck in some of the deepest postures I practise. This book has helped me see yoga with different eyes, still as something I want in my life and appreciating the benefits, but becoming more aware of the risks. However, whether I take the risks and to what extent, that is totally my responsibility as an adult with capacity to make informed decisions. I was surprised to see the rejection from some parts of the yoga community to some of the ideas. The risk is there, and hopefully people should not need to read the book to be aware of some of them. Yoga is physical exercise, at the end of the day. I look forward to more books like this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very readable and refreshing to have a view not fed by dedicated scepticism or romantic belief. A journalistic book that I read in a couple of sittings. Personally would have appreciated more detail and hard data from those research projects that were rigorous enough for real analysis. The shame is the dearth of research in this sphere.
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By T. Dervish on 13 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book highlights the good the bad and the ugly of Yoga. A must read for teachers and serious practitioners.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a yoga teacher and a skeptic in one, I found this book to be very honest and revealing, and a much-needed source of information for the very non-regulated yoga world. I would appreciate some more detailed explanations on the effects and contra-indications of yoga poses -- some were discussed but not many. The book deals with yoga as a whole, philosophy and physiology all rolled into one, which is fine, but I'd love to see a really thorough guide of what is actually effective and safe by modern standards for exercise and fitness, based on recent studies. Perhaps a sequel, Mr. Broad? I'd buy it immediately!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ros H on 13 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are starting out on the Yoga path then you MUST read this book. It is written in a concise and efficient way so that the layman understands exactly, the science behind Yoga. I have a good Yoga teacher, but this has opened my eyes about many things of which I had little understanding. I cannot recommend it more.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By alcaldo on 10 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Be careful when you have to choose your yoga course! It cuold be Dangerous for your back, your knees, ankles, etc! This book explain clearly all the problems connected with a incorrect practic of yoga asabna. If you are practising, please, read this book!
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