Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

by Mark Singleton
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195395352

ISBN-13: 9780195395358

Pub. Date: 02/10/2010

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Yoga is so prevalent in the modern world—practiced by pop stars, taught in schools, and offered in yoga centers, health clubs, and even shopping malls—that we take its presence, and its meaning, for granted. But how did the current yoga boom happen? And is it really rooted in ancient Indian practices, as many of its adherents claim?

In this

Overview

Yoga is so prevalent in the modern world—practiced by pop stars, taught in schools, and offered in yoga centers, health clubs, and even shopping malls—that we take its presence, and its meaning, for granted. But how did the current yoga boom happen? And is it really rooted in ancient Indian practices, as many of its adherents claim?

In this groundbreaking book, Mark Singleton calls into question many commonly held beliefs about the nature and origins of postural yoga (asana) and suggests a radically new way of understanding the meaning of yoga as it is practiced by millions of people across the world today. Singleton shows that, contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence in the Indian tradition for the kind of health and fitness-oriented asana practice that dominates the global yoga scene of the twenty-first century. Singleton's surprising—and surely controversial—thesis is that yoga as it is popularly practiced today owes a greater debt to modern Indian nationalism and, even more surprisingly, to the spiritual aspirations of European bodybuilding and early 20th-century women's gymnastic movements of Europe and America, than it does to any ancient Indian yoga tradition. This discovery enables Singleton to explain, as no one has done before, how the most prevalent forms of postural yoga, like Ashtanga, Bikram and "Hatha" yoga, came to be the hugely popular phenomena they are today.

Drawing on a wealth of rare documents from archives in India, the UK and the USA, as well as interviews with the few remaining, now very elderly figures in the 1930s Mysore asana revival, Yoga Body turns the conventional wisdom about yoga on its head.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195395358
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/10/2010
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 3

1 A Brief Overview of Yoga in the Indian Tradition 25

2 Fakirs, Yogins, Europeans 35

3 Popular Portrayals of the Yogin 55

4 India and the International Physical Culture Movement 81

5 Modern Indian Physical Culture: Degeneracy and Experimentation 95

6 Yoga as Physical Culture I: Strength and Vigor 113

7 Yoga as Physical Culture II: Harmonial Gymnastics and Esoteric Dance 143

8 The Medium and the Message: Visual Reproduction and the Āsana Revival 163

9 T. Krishnamacharya and the Mysore Āsana Revival 175

Notes 211

Bibliography 225

Index 257

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