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Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice Paperback – March 10 2010
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Singleton's radical, meticulously documented, sensitive analysis makes perfectly clear that what has come to be regarded as a veritable icon of Indic Civilization -- postural yoga -- is, in fact, unambiguously the hybrid product of colonial and post-colonial globalization. --Prof. Joseph S.
Alter, University of Pittsburgh. Author of Yoga in Modern India: The Body Between Science and Philosophy
Mark Singleton's Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice is an outstanding scholarly work which brings so much insight and clarity to the historic and cultural background of modern hatha yoga. I highly recommend this book, especially for all sincere students of yoga. --John Friend,
Founder of Anusara Yoga
I have been reading yoga texts and practicing yoga for 40 years, and I have taught a university-level academic course on yoga for the last 15 years, so it takes quite a good deal to teach me things about yoga I did not already know. This book has done so. It has been extremely informative and is
rich with historical details. The quantity of field research is quite extraordinary, the prose articulate, the diction intelligent, and the narrative sound. It is a must-read among yoga teachers and serious students, and has the potential to transform much of the yoga world. This book will echo
loudly through the global yoga community. --Prof. Kenneth Liberman, University of Oregon. Author of Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture
From the moment I started reading Mark Singleton's Yoga Body I couldn't put it down. It is beautifully written, extensively researched, and full of fascinating information. It stands alone in its depth of insight into a subject which has intrigued me for forty years. --David Williams, Maui,
Hawaii. The first non-Indian to learn the complete Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga syllabus.
Mark Singleton has written a sweeping and nuanced account of the origins and development of modern postural yoga in early twentieth-century India and the West, arguing convincingly that yoga as we know it today does not flow directly from the Yoga Sutras or India's medieval ha?ha yoga traditions,
but rather emerged out of a confluence of practices, movements and ideologies, ranging from contortionist acts in carnival sideshows, British Army calisthenics and women's stretching exercises to social Darwinism, eugenics, and the Indian nationalist movement. The richly illustrated story he tells
is an especially welcome contribution to the history of yoga, demonstrating the ways in which an ancient tradition was reinvented against the backdrop of India's colonial experience. --Prof. David Gordon White, University of California, Santa Barbara. Author of The Alchemical Body, Siddha
Traditions in Medieval India
Mark Singleton gives us here a groundbreaking, pioneering work. By carefully tracing the key 'missing links' in the development of contemporary notions of hatha yoga, he presents a far richer and nuanced picture than previously known. Quite simply, this is a book that cannot be ignored, destined to
be reckoned with in any further study of the topic. Thoroughly researched, extraordinarily well informed, and lucidly argued, I recommended it very highly to all serious practitioners and students of modern yoga who want a deeper understanding of its evolution. --Carlos Pomeda, founder of Yoga
Wisdom for Modern Life.
Mark Singleton's book Yoga Body traces the evolution of the ever expanding practice of asana world-wide. His work offers a much needed historical perspective that will help correct much of the mythology and group-think that is emerging in the modern asana based 'yoga world'. Any serious asana
practitioner who wishes to understand the place of asana in the greater tradition of yoga will do well to read it carefully. --Gary Krafstow, the founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, author of Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation
Yoga Body by Mark Singleton is a scholarly exploration of how modern yoga, as currently practiced in countless studios, gyms, and schools across the country, evolved [...] In essence, this very popular form of yoga was greatly influenced by modern physical practices, not just traditional spiritual
or mystical ones. Singleton makes a cogent argument backed up by references from many studies and sources [...] a work of merit that sheds a great deal of light on the development of modern yoga [...] an important contribution to our understanding of yoga. --San Francisco Book Review
Mark Singleton [...] asks a big question: Where did modern yoga come from? His reply will no doubt disturb a lot of folks [...] as Singleton clearly and convincingly demonstrates, the physical practice of today is less than 100 years old, and it has very little to do with either Patanjali's or
Krishna's teaching. Instead, it's the product of such disparate elements as British colonialist policies in India, 19th century physical health movements in Europe and India, the invention of the camera, and the reformist programs of Indian yoga teachers like Shri Yogendra and T. Krishnamacharya.
This book, an invaluable source on modern yoga, should be on the reading list of every serious student and teacher training program. --Richard Rosen in Yoga Journal.
About the Author
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; unknown edition (March 10 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0195395344
- ISBN-13 : 978-0195395341
- Item weight : 359 g
- Dimensions : 23.11 x 2.29 x 15.49 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #101,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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Yoga body offers some answers and questions to anyone who is curious as to how this current emphasis on posture has come to embody the most popular forms of yoga practice internationally, and how a very marginal and outcast practice called yoga (which it was before Swami Vivekananda's rousing presentation at the parliament of world Religions in the late 19th century) became an immensely popular international practice.
Yoga Body is not a casual read, it is written with an academic flair, but will prove to be very rewarding for those who stick with it!
Top reviews from other countries
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.
Great book anyway - well-researched (including interviews with a number of people who were students of Krishnamacharya), balanced (although some will see an agenda, he doesn't make assertions he can't back up with empirical evidence, and is generous in giving some of the stories told about the origins of modern yoga, such as the 'yoga korunta' being eaten by ants, more of the benefit of the doubt than they probably deserve), and, for an academic text, easy to read. Lots of very interesting photos comparing yoga poses and the systems which the thesis says they are borrowed from.
I personally found it easy to read and very fascinating! Thank you Mark Singleton!