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Yoga Body ✻ [EPUB] ✰ Yoga Body 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 take its presence and its meaning for granted 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 claimIn this groundbreaking book Mark Singleton calls into uestion 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 surprisingly to the spiritual aspirations of European bodybuilding and early th 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 todayDrawing 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 s Mysore asana revival Yoga Body turns the conventional wisdom about yoga on its head.

10 thoughts on “Yoga Body

  1. Andrea Andrea says:

    Yoga Body The Origins of Modern Posture PracticeI had to add the subtitle bc for some reason goodreads didn't And it's really pretty important imo Because this is NOT just another yoga history book that focuses on the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita and blahdeblah This is an incredibly documented history of modern yoga practice the practice you get at Yoga Tree or Yoga Mayu or wherever the heck you practice in whatever city you live Whatever the lineage you practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Jivamukti Anusara Iyengar they ALL owe their historical dues to well to a history that you might not expect How much DID the ancient yoga texts discuss physical practice? Why IS it that when most people think of yoga today they only think of pretzel poses?I don't want to give much away because the book is so fascinating to read ALTHOUGH CAVEAT it's very academic and assumes at least some knowledge and understanding of what's been given to us as yoga history eg the Sutras Hatha Yoga Pradipika and who the heck Patanjali Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya are So not for beginners That said I believe EVERY YOGA TEACHER should read this and I'm not kidding WHATEVER your lineage or whatever you think your lineage is ha it's super important to understand this history and how modern postural yoga as we know it came to be Think combine every incredible combination of physical training postural training military training bodybuilding gymnastics plus Protestant New Thought New Age and mystical women's stretching and you've pretty much reached a modern lululemon advertisement for yoga pants NOT that there's anything wrong with modern physical yoga asana practice Heck it's how I make my living But to really understand WHY we do the poses we do and HOW this all came to be this understandably controversial book opened my eyes to modern yoga practice in ways that MY teachers probably never even knew or understood themselvesMy review in essence Wow WOW WowowowowOWWWWWBonus incredible awesome old photosYes extreme yoga geekism Yes fascinating historical stuff

  2. Sam Sam says:

    This book is ok It has lots of great info but there are some problems Singleton tries to cram so much research and history into 200 pages that it comes off like a whirlwind tour through a bunch of stuff that most people will not be even slightly familiar with The book might have done well to be like 500 pages On the other hand Singleton's writing veers from captivating and insightful to reminding me of my college research papers ie here's my thesis here's my evidence here are my references here's my summary And since there is so much to get through his points end up being only barely made before he's off on some other subject Only in a few places does he really spend enough time with something notably at the beginning and the end A great overview of a seminal period of yoga history but it could have been polished and expanded and juiced up with some personality humor wit confidence sass anything Also there are a lot of typos lol

  3. Frank Jude Frank Jude says:

    Already two years old though I was aware of the general gist of this amazingly well researched book I only just got to read it and have learned so much about the specifics of the history of asana and how it's come to be practiced as it is in the contemporary 'yoga world' As Gary Krafstow writes work offers a much needed historical perspective that will help correct much of the mythology and group think that is emerging in the modern asana based 'yoga world'Sadly I've still not seen this information getting through to most practitioners OR teachers AND what's even those who are familiar with this book often don't understand it's deeper significance And of course there are the 'true believing' deniers who simply cannot abide with the fact that their precious practice isn't truly rooted in antiuity So if you are a teacher of yoga it's my opinion that you must read this book And if you are a practitioner I think it would be best for your practice to read this book

  4. Geoff Geoff says:

    Yoga Body is a mixed bag It is a scholarly book that dives deep into the physical culture of India in the late 19th and early 20th century It is such a scholarly book in fact that I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep reading it I am deeply interested in Singleton's chosen topic but the writing is so dry that I ended up being slightly bored and mostly disappointed Which isn't to say that I disagree with his conclusion just that it could have been presented in a much appealing wayStarting with the introduction the reader is inundated by a flood of names and dates that continues on all the way through to the end of the book This would not be so bad if the author had included at least one timeline or a genealogy in the book Sadly neither is included as there is not a single graphic diagram or map relating people to places andor times to be found As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and I feel that the addition of just a single timeline could have enhanced this book immensely However speaking of pictures some of the photos that are included are real gems I considered the photos to be the real highlight of the book Just when you are getting tired of Singleton's prose along will come an early 20th century or late 19th century photo of someone performing an asana that will be immediately recognizable by anyone who has taken a yoga class in the last thirty years Consider these photos your rewards for being able to get through that much of the book Ultimately I feel that most readers would find what they are looking for from the book if they just skipped all of the beginning chapters and went straight to the final chapter of the book chapter nine In the final chapter readers will likely be familiar with the names of the people and be comfortable in reading just the authors conclusion You can also get a lot from just reading the reviews on the back cover than from some of the chapters on the inside If you are still looking for after reading the back cover and the final chapter perhaps try reading the book's chapters in reverse order

  5. Amber Amber says:

    This book was utterly fascinating I would only recommend it to serious yoga practitioners because it is very scholarly complete with a sixteen page bibliography Please read it with an open mind as it will definitely shatter your preconceived notions of yoga

  6. Erica Erica says:

    I was extremely excited about this book at first And it did deliver much of what I wanted from it a clear eyed history of yoga focusing on the 20th century Among the fascinating findings yoga has been part of physical athletic body culture in America alligned with the 'strenuous life' of Teddy Roosevelt the muscle building crazes of the early 20th century etc In addition yoga was popularized in India in the 20th century as a way to find strength and beauty against their British colonizers Yoga was about nationalism This was a real revelation one which actually makes yoga all the fascinating to me I have two critiues of the book there was very little about the spiritual elements of yoga in the 20th century I wanted to know the roots of these as well and the author was very very focused only on physical yoga asana Second I'm a professional historian and this was hard slogging for me at points because of the dry and complex writing The cover of the book sells it as a mass market yoga book but don't be fooled it's real history I love real history but this could have been made palatable before the press

  7. Bernie Gourley Bernie Gourley says:

    I was excited to stumble across this book because it proposed fresh insights into the history and development of posture centric yoga Singleton’s premise is that yoga as it’s practiced in studios around the world today ie practices focused heavily on asana or postures has almost nothing to do with historic yogic traditions and is to a large extent European or Western fitness practices fed back to the world with a patina of Indian ness instilled by a few Indian fitness teachers eg T Krishnamacharya and students This is a bold and stunning hypothesis The problem is that Singleton leaves plenty of room to doubt his thesis I’m not saying that I’m certain Singleton is wrong but after reading the book I’m no inclined to believe his hypothesis than when I first read the book blurb The book consists of nine chapters1 A Brief Overview of Yoga in the Indian Tradition2 Fakirs Yogins Europeans3 Popular Portrayals of the Yogin4 India and the International Physical Culture Movement5 Modern Indian Physical Culture Degeneracy and Experimentation6 Yoga as Physical Culture I Strength and Vigor7 Yoga as Physical Culture II Harmonial Gymnastics and Esoteric Dance8 The Medium and the Message Visual Reproduction and the Asana Revival9 T Krishnamacharya and the Mysore Asana RevivalOne can see the flow of the book in this chapter listing It begins by describing the ancient yogic traditions eg Jnana yoga Bhakti yoga and Karma yoga Singleton then goes on to put immense weight on very few voices that were speaking globally about yoga in the late 19th century—largely European but notably including Swami Vivekananda This by the way is where I noticed the most glaring weaknesses of the book There seems to be an assumption that what the most vocal people were saying during this time was the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth One will note that the late 19th century is an arbitrary point to make the critical juncture for a study of yoga—this era’s sole importance seems to be in that that’s when Europeans started entering the scene and documenting it in English and Western languages to a large extent I understand that there may have been a dearth of information previously; however I’m also skeptical of euating the sum of truth with the sum of what is documented The book then shifts into the early 20th century when Singleton proposes the proto postural yoga is beginning to coalesce with both Western and indigenous Indian influences Singleton writes extensively about this period and presents what he believes is the path by which postural practice evolved over a short time into modern yoga as we know it The book ends in the mid 20th century with an extensive discussion of T Krishnamacharya and his pack of brilliant students ie BKS Iyengar Pattabhi Jois TVK Desikachar and Indira Devi who are responsible for a lot of how yoga is practiced today for virtually all of modern yoga by Singleton’s reckoning It should be noted that this book is put out by an academic press Oxford University Press and there’s all the front and post matter that one would expect of a scholarly press publication This includes an introduction notes and a bibliography So you might be wondering how I could have so much doubt about the veracity of the book’s central claim—a book written by a Cambridge educated scholar and published by Oxford University Press It’s after all chocked full of facts that are designed to bolster Singleton’s argument I’m certainly not suggesting that Singleton lied or presented false facts however I have and will further argue that he frames facts throughout the book to diminish those statements and facts that run counter to his argument while wholeheartedly accepting statements that validate his argument—even when the people whose statements he leaves unchallenged would seem to have their own agendas I don’t know perhaps T Krishnamacharya was—as Singleton intimates though never explicitly accuses—lying when he claimed to have received his seuence and approach from a scripture he was taught by a Himalayan master However interestingly he would be lying to minimize his role in the development of yoga rather than to increase his fame This stands in contrast with the European authors who Singleton readily accepts who were seeking to build their bona fides as experts in the esoteric systems of India and the Himalaya who arguably had a lot to gain from being seen as having a full understanding of these systems The best way to understand the root of my skepticism is to tell a make believe story Imagine a race of aliens came down to Earth For whatever reason they want to understand presumably among many other things the Roman Catholic Church One astute alien scholar notes that after having reviewed not only the entire Bible but a vast canon of theologian discourse there is scant mention of sitting or kneeling However when cameras came around there came to be clear evidence of pews and kneelers in the church The aliens conclude that Catholics had always stood during worship but with the advent of the camera they began to sit and kneel The aliens having big and bulbous butts conclude that the Catholics have become concerned that their own big bulbous butts will be captured for posterity pun intended by the cameras and have thus opted to adopt postures that would adeuately provide cover In the present day sitting and kneeling are the bulk of what Catholics do with their bodies when overtly practicing their religion and so it must be those postures rather than abstract notions like achieving “grace” are now the most critical part of the practice Besides the earliest photos of kneelers came from Protestant churches so perhaps Anglicans taught Catholics how to kneel If you haven’t figured it out in my little scenario the late 19th century Europeans who were writing the English language tracts that formed the heart of Singleton’s research material are the aliens with big bulbous butts I would propose that the Europeans aren’t viewing yoga completely objectively but through the lens of their own experience and desires Further they are also only giving weight to what they see and hear which may or may not be a full picture I would further argue that just like Catholics don’t devote much text to discussing sitting and kneeling in the documents of the Vatican library doesn’t mean there isn’t a long history of those practices Postural practice is a not the critical end result that everyone is concerned with even if it takes up the bulk of one’s time in overt practice It’s certainly true that there are a vast number of yoga practitioners whose only interest is in the fitness aspect of the practice However there are also many who spend most of their yoga reading time learning from Vedas and reading yogic philosophy even though the bulk of their practice time is asana b extremely difficult to convey via text but readily conveyed through demonstration and hands on teaching If you were a Catholic and wanted to teach someone kneeling would you write them a three paragraph text description of the process or would you just demonstrate how to kneel and correct any glaring albeit unlikely deficiencies in form At no point does Singleton get into the postural details of individual asana He mentions another scholar that supposedly has done some of that work but Singleton feels it’s not critical However it’s very hard to prove what he’s trying to prove without getting into that level of detail Yes there will be similarities between various systems of stretching because of the nature of the body For example European stretching systems had a forward bend that looks reminiscent of paschimottanasana the body folds that way and stretching the hamstrings is one of the most important functions in any stretching regimen and it shouldn’t be surprising or revealing if the first photograph of this posture was in a European gym the fact that Scandinavians had cameras before Himalayan yogis isn’t a sound basis to conclude that Himalayan yogi’s learned to bend forward from Scandinavians A there are a lot of postures that two systems might reasonably independently discover but one also can’t rule out that the Indian yogi taught the Europeans and not the other way around I know it’s hard to comprehend in the era of FaceBook but failure to be documented does not eual failure to be true The farther one goes into the past the less of what happened is going to be documented and some cultures are going to be likely to document events than others eg Would our aliens be right or wrong if they concluded that 85% of humans are females between the age of 12 and 24 years old because 85% of the selfies posted on the internet are among that group Singleton’s book does have some graphics They didn’t always help his case however I was struck by how few of the fine details of the European postures correspond to practice as we know them while some of the very old paintings look almost exactly like present day asana If one accepts that the fact that they didn’t have the greatest grasp of capturing perspective back then isn’t indicative of how flat the postures and people were back then I’ll readily admit that I wouldn’t definitively count Singleton wrong on my subjective observation of the pictures but it does leave me with a lot of room for doubt I suppose the next uestion is why I didn’t completely pan the book Three stars isn’t a tragic rating I thought the book contained a lot of good information and food for thought even if it fell far short of proving its central hypothesis I particularly enjoyed the chapter on T Krishnamacharya and his now famous student body I’ll also say that part of why I came away from the book with such a muddled perception of this history is that Singleton doesn’t hide facts that are damning to his case but rather presents them and then tries to marginalize them A prime example would be the Hatha Yoga Pridipika HYP a 15th century text that mentions a number of the asana considered classic yoga postures today some of which form the core of a Hata practice—though admittedly HYP emphasizes the importance of only four seated postures I can’t say that Singleton didn’t help give me pause to wonder about the truth of the received understanding of yoga’s evolution I’ve practiced yoga in places as varied as India the US Thailand and Hungary and I found it shocking how similar the practice is around the world This bodes well for the argument that yoga as it’s practiced today has coalesced recently By way of contrast there are many myths about how one martial art is the ancestor of another but the two systems often look nothing alike eg I’ve studied Kalaripayattu which many believe was the ancestor art taken to China by Bodhidharma through Southeast Asia but which today looks nothing like Kung fu or Muay Thai Further Kung fu styles usually look uite unlike the Korean and Japanese martial arts that they are said to have inspired If the latter among these martial arts did come from the earlier they evolved apart uickly While the evolution into different martial art forms is uite possible it raises the uestion of why yoga should be so similar internationally A skilled yoga teacher would likely give a given student the same alignment adjustments for say Warrior I regardless of whether the teacher was in Prague Manila Tokyo or San Diego I can’t say that I’d endorse Singleton’s argument It would take much precise information for me to buy it and it’s likely that said detailed historical information doesn’t exist However if you’re interested in the history of yoga you might want to check out this book Your conclusions may differ from mine but even if they don’t I suspect you’ll learn a thing or two of interest Yoga Body was reasonably priced as a Kindle book when I bought it

  8. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    A path breaking work on the history of modern yoga Nothing else comes close to providing us with such a detailed examination of the formative roots of what is widely considered to be yoga today ie asana practice While written for an academic audience and perhaps a bit of a stretch for the general reader anyone who is serious about understanding the development of modern yoga should definitely take the time to grapple with this important book

  9. Antiloquax Antiloquax says:

    Just read the first couple of chapters Fascinating study of the rise of the physical side of Yoga asanas in what he calls transnational anglophone yoga Basically he is saying that in the oldest forms of Yoga the postures were not that important the emphasis was on meditation The current state of Yoga which is often just a form of gymnsatics came about he says due to the interaction between Yoga and Western physical culture

  10. Eugene Eugene says:

    slight diversion from normal reading habits but stumbled upon this author's article in yoga journal it seemed like it should be a cover story but the article is strangely buried within dunno why exactly but thought its argument should get some passing around i found the piece oddly shocking yoga scholar singleton argues that the current popular asana practice of western yoga is not the centuries old tradition it advertises itself to be but an odd and relatively new conflation of among other things scandanavian health exercises and martial arts prescribed by colonial india's fight for independence from the publisher's website 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 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 todayrelatedly this two part interview with singleton speaks about various losses of translation losses both of the scriptural kind sutras and in terms of physical posture practice here's part two of that interview which deals with the 'origins of modern posture practice' the subtitle of YOGA BODY

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