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Yoga is so prevalent in the modern worldpracticed by pop stars, taught in schools, and offered in yoga centers, health clubs, and even shopping mallsthat 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 surprisingand surely controversialthesis 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.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|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.
Table of Contents
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