The Path of Modern Yoga

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-08-01
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions

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A history of yoga’s transformation from sacred discipline to exercise program to embodied spiritual practice

• Identifies the origin of exercise yoga as India’s response to the mania for exercise sweeping the West in the early 20th century

• Examines yoga’s transformations through the lives and accomplishments of 11 key figures, including Sri Yogendra, K. V. Iyer, Louise Morgan, Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, Indra Devi, and B. K. S. Iyengar

• Draws on more than 10 years of research from rare primary sources and includes 99 illustrations

In The Path of Modern Yoga, Elliott Goldberg shows how yoga was transformed from a sacred practice into a health and fitness regime for middle-class Indians in the early 20th century and then gradually transformed over the course of the 20th century into an embodied spiritual practice--a yoga for our times.

Drawing on more than 10 years of research from rare primary sources as well as recent scholarship, Goldberg tells the sweeping story of modern yoga through the remarkable lives and accomplishments of 11 key figures: six Indian yogis (Sri Yogendra, Swami Kuvalayananda, S. Sundaram, T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, and B. K. S. Iyengar), an Indian bodybuilder (K. V. Iyer), a rajah (Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi), an American-born journalist (Louise Morgan), an Indian diplomat (Apa Pant), and a Russian-born yogi trained in India (Indra Devi). The author places their achievements within the context of such Western trends as the physical culture movement, the commodification of exercise, militant nationalism, jazz age popular entertainment, the quest for youth and beauty, and 19th-century New Age religion.

In chronicling how the transformation of yoga from sacred discipline to exercise program allowed for the creation of an embodied spiritual practice, Goldberg presents an original, authoritative, provocative, and illuminating interpretation of the history of modern yoga.

Author Biography

Elliott Goldberg is one of the few scholars in the emerging field of modern yoga studies. He has presented papers at the Modern Yoga Workshop at Cambridge University and at the American Academy of Religion (AAR). He is a fitness trainer in New York City.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Karl Baier, Ph.D.


Part I
Divesting Yoga of the Sacred
Yogic Physical Culture and Health Cure

1    Shri Yogendra
Rejecting the Role of Yoga Guru

2    Shri Yogendra
Creating the Profession of Yoga Teacher: The Yoga Class

3    Shri Yogendra
Making Yoga into Calisthenics

4    Shri Yogendra
Taking Practical Yoga to the New World: Hatha Yoga in America

5    Shri Yogendra
Making Yoga Gentle

6    Swami Kuvalayananda
Claiming Yoga Is Science

7    Swami Kuvalayananda
Promoting Yoga as Health Cure: A Yoga Journal and Yoga Institute

8    Swami Kuvalayananda
Investigating the Yogic Phenomena: Yoga Research

9    Swami Kuvalayananda
Standing Up Straight: Yoga and Good Posture

10    Swami Kuvalayananda
Youthifying the Spine: Yoga and Chiropractic

11    K. V. Iyer
Mixing Bodybuilding and Yoga

12    S. Sundaram
Publishing a Yoga Manual

13    S. Sundaram
Meditating on the Body in Yoga

Part II
Making Yoga Dynamic
The Sun Salutations as Yogic Exercise

14    Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi
Reviving Surya Namaskar

15    Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi
Promoting Surya Namaskar as Health Cure and Strengthening Exercise

16    Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi
Making Surya Namaskar a Part of Physical Education: Mass Exercise

17    T. Krishnamacharya
Keeping the Flame: Yoga at the Palace

18    T. Krishnamacharya
Incorporating Contortion into Yoga

19    T. Krishnamacharya
Infusing Yoga with Surya Namaskar: Yoga as Performance

20    K. V. Iyer
Mixing Bodybuilding and Yoga at the Palace

21    K. V. Iyer
Presenting Surya Namaskar as Stretching Exercise

22    Louise Morgan
Making Surya Namaskar into an Elixir for Western Women

23    Louise Morgan
Pointing the Way to Health through Surya Namaskar

24    Louise Morgan
Becoming Aware of the Body in Surya Namaskar

25    Apa Pant
Making Surya Namaskar into a Meditation

26    Swami Sivananda
Using Surya Namaskar as a Warm-up Exercise for Yoga

Part III
Making Yoga Sacred Again
Yogic Embodied Spirituality

27    Indra Devi
Becoming a Western, Female Yoga Teacher

28    Indra Devi
Treating Anxiety with Yoga

29    B. K. S. Iyengar
Enduring Cruelty: A Yoga Student

30    B. K. S. Iyengar
Making Yoga Fierce: A Yoga Teacher

31    B. K. S. Iyengar
Making Yoga All-Encompassing

32    B. K. S. Iyengar
Making Yoga Precise

33    B. K. S. Iyengar
Spiritualizing the Domain of Acrobatics: Asana Practice as the Eight-Limbed Path

34    B. K. S. Iyengar
Making Asana Practice into a Meditation of Insight

35    B. K. S. Iyengar
Teaching Asana as Embodied Spirituality




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