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Lazy Sunday Book Review: Yoga Body

May 5, 2014

ImageRecently I’ve been making a concerted effort to get myself back on track to actually teach yoga. This book was part of the required reading for my training program, as Mark Singleton was to be a part of the guest teaching faculty. I picked it up a few weeks ago to re-read it because I was feeling like I needed some sort of quick connection to my not-so-recent yoga training, but as it would turn out the “origins of modern posture practice” is a very en vogue topic. With the arrival of the new Yoga exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, people are starting to talk about where our ever popular postural yoga actually comes from (I like to rudely insert myself into all of these conversations.) It has been very popular and colloquial to refer to yoga as an “ancient practice.” In some respects, and in some traditions this is probably true, but yoga asana as it is most often utilized in the western world is not quite so ancient.

Not to spoil any surprises, but Singleton argues that Western postural yoga (what pretty much any American or European refers to as Yogais not only relatively new, but also was fairly infamous, taboo and definitely not popular for most of its history.

Although the book takes a fairly dry-ish academic tone, the writing flows well and the subject matter and POV are compelling. If you’re at all interested in yoga history this is a fantastic book. If you take a couple of power yoga classes a week and worship at the temple of lululemon you may find this book to be a slightly tedious read. Personally, I found this book to be highly informative, enjoyable and a great piece of reference material from which I will be tempted to paraphrase endlessly until you’re bored to tears or driven nearly to a homicidal rage.

Singleton for the win!

[Image: Amazon, Mark Singleton, Oxford University Press]

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