The Origins of Modern Posture Practice
By Mark Singleton
Paperback: 262 pages
1 in stock (can be backordered)
Yoga is so prevalent in the modern world—practiced by pop stars, taught in schools, and offered in yoga centres, health clubs, and even shopping malls—that we can take its presence and its meaning for granted. But how did th6 current yoga boom happen? And is it really rooted in ancient Indian practices, as many of its adherents claim? In this ground-breaking book, Mark Singleton questions 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 sur-prising 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 Asana revival, Yoga Body turns conventional wisdom about yoga on its head.