Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

by Mark Singleton

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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 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: 9780199745982
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 02/10/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,105,663
File size: 10 MB

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.

Customer Reviews

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice
gratefulyoga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book full of remarkable revelations about the history of modern yoga. It makes it clear that much of what we consider "ancient tradition" (with regards to the postures, at least) was actually created in the early 1900's by Indian teachers in response to changing cultural and historical circumstances. Singleton's research challenges the notion that any form of postural yoga can claim a "pure" lineage, which is a good thing in my opinion. Let's set aside arguments about who has the best tradition, and see what really serves our current needs.
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jparlett More than 1 year ago
It is the "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" book of Yoga.