In this remarkable book about yoga, William Broad, a lifelong practitioner, shows us that uncommon states are integral to a hidden world of risk and reward that lies beneath clouds of myth, superstition, and hype.
Five years in the making, The Science of Yoga draws on more than a century of painstaking research to present the first impartial evaluation of a practice thousands of years old. It celebrates what’s real and shows what’s illusory, describes what’s uplifting and beneficial and what’s flaky and dangerous—and why. Broad illuminates how yoga can lift moods and inspire creativity. He exposes moves that can cripple and kill. As science often does, this groundbreaking book also reveals mysteries. It presents a fascinating body of evidence that raises questions about whether humans have latent capabilities for entering states of suspended animation and unremitting sexual bliss.
The Science of Yoga takes us on a riveting tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archives in Calcutta to the world capitals of medical research, from storied ashrams to spotless laboratories, from sweaty yoga studios with master teachers to the cozy offices of yoga healers. Broad unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. In the end, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.
©2012 William J. Broad (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Chapters 1-3 are really good, shedding light on the history of yoga as well as scientific insight about the benefits.
The second half of the book is not nearly as good, as broad goes out on a limb time and time again - making claims without much scientific basis. The chapters on injury, healing, sexual drive and creativity all lack the substance shown in the first half of the book.
Still a good read to any interested to yogi and yogini.
This book highlights that yoga as all exercises and physicals activities involves some degree of risk and rewards, and points out the need to educate and practice a better, safer yoga, to decrease and prevent its risk, and for other side, optimize and multiply its rewards. As a yogi one of my favorites books.
I am all about science and fact, particularly when covering a health-related topic. In addition, I had really high hopes for this book, as Broad is a New York Times science writer; ultimately, I am all about objective reporting to further people's understanding of a particular topic.
That being said, I believe Broad had a particular agenda in mind: To "debunk" various myths about yoga, thus creating a bestseller. The thing is, I believe all of his facts are essentially proven, but the structure of this book is bizarre. To me, one of the most essential scientific facts about yoga is how it improves mental health; that being said, he seemed to really skim over that, instead using the book to shed light on the more "controversial" aspects of yoga, i.e., two-hour orgasms, sex scandals, and crazy white dudes monetizing the practice. I could be mistaken, but I believe that ultimately, people continue to study yoga for mental well being.
I never write reviews, but I really wanted to share this. I hope that people interested in yoga don't turn away from it after Broad (seemingly triumphantly) states that yoga doesn't make you lose weight; it actually slows down the metabolism. While objectively that may be true, yoga is so much more nuanced than that, and could ultimately help you get out of an unhealthy relationship with food. Plus, yoga is so much larger and more glorious than that.
Anyway, caveat emptor. Namaste, y'all.
I have been practicing yoga for 8 years and after completing this book I am modifying my practice. I have a new perspective on the benefits of yoga and I am going to create a more powerful practice for myself because of this book. Thank you!!
An impressive amount of analytics to dispel myths and help you understand the good and the bad of yoga. Written in an authoritative matter, it is a must-read for anyone practicing or considering yoga.
Hardest thing to say
With new ears.
None really, except when I noted repetitive references to impropriety, especially everyone's favorite, sex.
Saying that BKS Iyengar would have told the practitioner in cobra or updog to throw his head back, Appalling. Impeached.
Also when I realized that the entire publication is intrinsically dishonest.
Intrinsically dishonest -- good phrase.
Hack -- written for money or prestige, not for passion.
(Selectively?) ignorant and poorly researched -- except for the scandals.
The biggest clue to this writer's incompleteness or bias:
THE MOST IMPORTANT guides to yogic instruction are not even mentioned, nevermind discussed. What are they?
This book was required reading for the yoga teacher training course I'm currently inrolled in. I'm glad that it was. it gave a very balanced narrative of the history of yoga and its positives/negatives of how its tought and marketed. it definitely open my eyes on things I need to be aware of as I go into teaching others
I have been doing yoga asana practice yoga study mantra chanting and overall just an American yoga enthusiast for 15 years. This book is fantastic. My hat is truly off to this author. Well done sir, well done!
Would definitely recommend. I rarely write reviews but this book presents an understandable and interesting summary of research, folklore and history of yoga - beyond the evangelical or heavy approach of others. If you are looking for a clear account of the pros and cons of yoga and an informed view on history and traditions then this is it. Section on injury and teachers credentials really helpful and meant I finally found someone who can safely guide me in the traditions and eight arms of yoga.
As above and easy to follow
Personable - understandable-authoritative.
I loved this book. As someone who has not practised Yoga I thought I would listen to this as a way of making sure what i got myself into. Very useful in pointing out the benefits but also the dangers of Yoga before getting into the practice. I will now think twice and ask some important questions of any instructor before taking a class.
Really enjoyed this book, well researched and clearly written covering a wide range if yoga through the last 50 years will definitely recommend it.
"Not hugely interesting"
Lots of information and history of yoga, some Intersting revelations. However most of the book seems to refer to how yoga "could" do this and that, and the future of yoga "could" be like this or it "could" be like that. The narrative is very monotonous too.
"A technical study and reference work"
Yes. Lots of information about the history of the various styles with detailed background information.
The shocking injuries. Who would have imagined yoga could cause strokes!
His voice is a little bit of a monotone. I found my attention wandering sometimes.
No. Unless there are dramatic new findings it seems unlikely to need updating.
I would recommend this book as giving a very fair background to yoga. Lots of evidence based studies are quoted. Lots of myths are exposed. The dangers are explained and so are the benefits. It feels very honest.
"thorough and grounded"
I enjoyed the overview of the history of yogas evolution and relationship with science. I found it helpful as a keen yoga practitioner. As a Nurse I found the information about risks interesting too.
"Disappointing and biased"
The author is frustratingly biased towards a modern yoga with little respect for its Indian roots. He paints an ugly picture of its heritage even stating that traditional Indian yogis were child snatchers and more akin to occultist charlatans than. He makes a mistake early on, after saying he was surprised to learn yoga had many confusing styles and forms, he claims he knew enough to focus on the source of it all, Hatha Yoga! What happened to karma yoga, yama and niyama? Obviously there is no science to be found there. Not a good read if you respect yogas history, more of a insight into the dogmatic fundamentals of a scientific mind who struggles to understand subtleties and has no faith in human wisdom acquired over generations.
"Very informative and interesting book!"
I found this book very insightful, I got through it very quickly, listening at every opportunity and disappointed when it ended. I plan to listen to it again to make sure there wasn't anything I missed. Well structured and an excellent performance. If you are interested in yoga, science and history I would highly recommend this book.
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