Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

by Mark Singleton
     
 

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 can 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

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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 can 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 questions commonly held beliefs about the nature and origins of postural yoga (āsana) 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 āsana practice that dominates the global yoga scene of the twenty-first century. Singleton's surprising and surely controversial thesis is that yoga as 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 today, like Ashtanga, Bikram and "Hatha" yoga, came to be the hugely popular phenomena they are.

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

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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)

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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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