Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

by Mark Singleton


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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, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195395341
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 02/10/2010
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 581,223
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mark Singleton is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia, SOAS, University of London. He is the editor, with Jean Byrne, of Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives. He lives in London.

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