As a (semi-serious) practitioner of both yoga and Buddhism, I have for some time wondered about the connections between the two. I feel that there is some connection, but it is hard to know what it is. Neither my Buddhism classes or my yoga classes make any reference to the other, and they almost seem to be competing philosophies at times. Unfortunately the book, although not bad, was a bit of a disappointment.
This was an enjoyable, somewhat rambling discussion that seemed more like a relaxed lecture than a serious monograph. As someone who is a highly regarded yoga teacher and who runs a successful yoga center (one of the most popular in New York from what I can tell, along with Yoga Works and Jivamukti), she clearly knows about yoga. But her knowledge as expressed in this book, although not superficial, does not seem very extensive. In the realm of Buddhism, she is not an experienced teacher or scholar. She makes a few references to things that some yoga teachers have said, but her knowledge does not seem particularly broad. The book is basically structured like a casual talk, interspersed with photos and descriptions of ashtanga asanas. Now so far as that goes, it is not bad, but it is the kind of thing I would rather watch or listen to than read about.
The key question for me is whether the book began to answer my questions and add to my knowledge of the intersection(s) of yoga and Buddhism. In that regard, I must tip my cap to Cyndi Lee and thank her. She does begin to touch on some things, but not nearly to the extent that the title suggests. She may have done some damage to her cause with this overly ambitious title, which implies that she will explain the hows and whys of the linkage of yoga exercise and Buddhist thinking. In fact, she goes on primarily about yoga, and makes the occasional reference to Buddhism. However, some of her comments are illuminating, and helped me to understand why I often experience something similar when I meditate and when I do yoga.
Yoga connects us to the earth, to the universe, to our own physical experience thru breathing and movement. Things are always in flux and life moves to the same rhythms that our breath does. Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga is built around the breath, and this begins to connect us to our minds and to nature as well. When the mind and body are in synch, then we are more in tune with all life, and we are in a position to grow spiritually, as well as become healthier. Yoga grew out of the Hindu (altho Lee says it is separate from Hinduism) Sankhya philosophy, which came along around 200 CE and proposed a dual level of existence: purusha (which basically means spirit) and prakriti (matter). I am a little unclear where the mind fits into it, but yoga means union, and it is an effort to join the two - body and mind, matter and spirit. I am also a little uncertain as to where the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali comes into the picture, since that was another huge point of origin for yoga. Oh well, I guess I will have to learn some more about it. Lee's book is a good starting point for further explorations, and she has a nice yoga center, too. I respect her willingness to take on such a big subject and attempt to popularize it.