Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice Paperback – 10 Feb 2010
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What Mark Singleton does prove, with massive, irrefutable, fascinating and often hilarious evidence, is that yoga is a rich, multi-cultural, constantly changing inter-disciplinary construction, far from the pure line that its adherents often claim for it. (Wendy Doniger, Times Literary Supplement)
This book, an invaluable source on modern yoga, should be on the reading list of every serious student and teacher training program. (Richard Rosen, Yoga Journal)
About the Author
Mark Singleton teaches at St. John's College, Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the editor, with Jean Byrne, of Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives. He lives in Santa Fe.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am an ashtanga student myself, practicing almost daily - and it's easy for me to see how the gymnastic origins of what we do, as postulated by Singleton, is completely credible. Having seen yoga practiced by saddhus in India (their practice is also covered in the book - then, as now, they were seen as outside of mainstream Hinduism and viewed with disdain or suspicion) it is clearly different (and, I would suggest, in some cases involves a whole other level of commitment). For some though, the idea that they are practicing something ancient, found in ancient texts and passed down from a guru in a cave in Tibet to Krishnamacharya, and then to Jois, is important and makes what they do more than just exercise. What actually makes it more than just exercise as usually understood these days is probably the breathing more than anything else - timing the movement with breathing. That too though, is, according to the book, borrowed from western exercise systems of the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries. I don't care much personally, as I find all the cod-sanskrit and po-faced spiritualism of some in the ashtanga scene more than a bit tedious (and, to be fair, from what I've seen of Jois himself, he never took it so seriously). A change in approach may be required though from those who currently insist, with a straight face, that bending over and touching the floor is veda-inspired and a step on the road to enlightenment.Read more ›
The author studies the emergence of posture (asana) practice in "Hatha Yoga", between 1896,when Vivekananda's Raja Yoga--- that promoted a posture-LESS yoga--- was published, and the 1930s, when Krishnamacharya and others taught quite athletic poses and exercises in the close surroundings of the Maharajah of Mysore--India).
Krishnamacharya's teachings have been propagated all over the world by some of his well-known students such as B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois (who created "Ashtanga Yoga", a very dynamic, flowing style based on defined series of poses) , T.K.V Desikashar (Krishnamacharya's son, from the teachings of whom "Desikashar yoga" , Viniyoga and smaller schools derive).
M. Singleton's book questions not only the origins of current importance given to poses in yoga practice, but also a couple of assertions these teachers made in the name of Krishnamacharya and of "tradition".
According to M. Singleton, two trends met and influenced each other, leading to the development of new, "posture-based" hatha yoga:
1) The West was increasingly interested in methods of physical education (e.g. bodybuilding, Scandinavian gymnastics,...) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in a spirit of growing nationalism. The idea of muscular bodies being a token of physical, moral, see spiritual health/strength was diffused in India by the British army, Indian YMCA and education.
2) A part of the educated Indian elite was eager to prove the vigour of their nation's race and heritage to some contemptuous orientalists and British.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A reading copy was all that was needed. Parts of the text were underscored in thick black ink which made it impossible to read. Inked comments in the margins throughout. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Judy Stewart
Good very detailed book. Learn a lot about yoga. Must read for yoga teachers.Published 10 months ago by carrotmunch5
An academic book. Properly cited, richly referenced and for the most part freshly written, at times wordy but always fair and logically researched arguments. Read morePublished 13 months ago by li-jou
A fascinating , non-partisan, history of modern yoga that places it nicely in the context of the times. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a very interesting book; however the author's writing style is unnecessarily academic and dry. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Fiona
this was a bit hard to read and follow at time but got easier towards the end and very different perspective to yoga than mainstreamPublished on 19 Mar. 2013 by nikki balding
A brilliant book setting out the that sets out to demolish the assertion that the roots of modern yoga, specifically asma/postures lie in ancient India. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2012 by John of Highgate