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on 22 November 2016
I'm a yoga teacher and I'm also doing a PhD. I liked reading about the history of modern yoga and how we got to where we are today. I think it's important to understand the development so you get where all the teachings are coming from, and appreciate that "modern yoga" isn't entirely authentic. If you are delving into cultural appropriation topics then this is a must-read book! I still think that's okay, but I'm glad to know its true development. I also loved that this is essentially a published PhD thesis - very cleverly reimagined as a non-fiction book I would sit and read from start to finish (tons of references!)!
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on 1 July 2015
An academic book. Properly cited, richly referenced and for the most part freshly written, at times wordy but always fair and logically researched arguments. Well worth having and using as a reference to understand the postural side of yoga. In fact, it changes the way we view yoga completely. A must read for dedicated yogis.
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on 17 November 2017
Wonderful book! A must read for every yoga teacher/serious practitioner from any yoga tradition.
I personally found it easy to read and very fascinating! Thank you Mark Singleton!
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on 14 February 2012
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. Its well set out and argued that there is an ancient Indian yoga, but it is not the source of most of what people in te West do in yoga classes today.
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on 19 March 2013
this was a bit hard to read and follow at time but got easier towards the end and very different perspective to yoga than mainstream
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on 11 October 2014
A fascinating , non-partisan, history of modern yoga that places it nicely in the context of the times. Worth reading by anyone who wants to understand the development of modern yoga.
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on 7 February 2017
This is a very interesting book. I thought I knew quite a lot about the origins of yoga until I began reading this. It is an academic study and as such the numerous references to sources of information slow you down when reading. It is also a bit repetitive but as this is a course book this should help me retain the information. I have a pretty good vocabulary but found I need to keep a dictionary handy. I love learning new words so that's ok. It's not easy to read, hence the 4 stars.
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on 23 September 2015
Good very detailed book. Learn a lot about yoga. Must read for yoga teachers.
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on 28 October 2012
"Yoga Body"is based on the Mark Singleton's PhD thesis at the university of Cambridge.
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.

The experimental development of asana-based hatha yoga might have been made easier by centuries-old Indian talent for giving ancient traditions (sometimes thoroughly) new shapes while staying orthodox enough to be accepted.

The book is dense, written in an academic style that some readers might find complex. It is supported with many notes and references (unobtrusively gathered at the end--- that's a bonus: you don't have to read them to understand the book.). The occasional Sanskrit words will be familiar to most hatha yoga practitioners.
Even though it is no light read, "Yoga Body" remains accessible. It is gorgeously instructive, and illustrated with photos (of postures, for instance) and documents dating from the studied period. The book certainly challenges some of the assertions that have been passed down in many hatha yoga manuals, lessons and teacher trainings in the last few decades. However, this is a great opportunity for hatha yoga practitioners to find their own reasons for doing what they do on their yoga mats, while reconsidering Hatha Yoga's history (both ancient and recent), its roots (both Indian and Western), practices and purposes.
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on 15 April 2016
great
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