It is simple to grasp why John Pal extremely recommends the e book Yoga Physique: The Origins of Trendy Posture Yoga “for all honest college students of yoga.” As a result of, Mark Singleton’s thesis is a properly researched expose of how trendy hatha yoga, or “posture observe,” as he phrases it, has modified inside and after the observe left India.
However the e book is especially about how yoga remodeled in India itself within the final 150 years. How yoga’s principal, trendy proponents-T. Krishnamacharya and his college students, Okay. Patttabhi Jois and B. Okay. S. Iyengar-mixed their homegrown hatha yoga practices with European gymnastics.
This was what number of Indian yogis coped with modernity: Moderately than remaining within the caves of the Himalayas, they moved to town and embraced the oncoming European cultural developments. They particularly embraced its extra “esoteric types of gymnastics,” together with the influential Swedish methods of Ling (1766-1839 Barre Teacher).
Singleton makes use of the phrase yoga as a homonym to clarify the primary objective of his thesis. That’s, he emphasizes that the phrase yoga has a number of meanings, relying on who makes use of the time period.
This emphasis is in itself a worthy enterprise for college kids of every thing yoga; to understand and settle for that your yoga is probably not the identical type of yoga as my yoga. Merely, that there are various paths of yoga.
In that regard, John Pal is completely proper: that is by far probably the most complete examine of the tradition and historical past of the influential yoga lineage that runs from T. Krishnamacharya’s humid and sizzling palace studio in Mysore to Bikram’s artificially heated studio in Hollywood.
Singleton’s examine on “postural yoga” makes up the majority of the e book. However he additionally devotes some pages to stipulate the historical past of “conventional” yoga, from Patanjali to the Shaiva Tantrics who, primarily based on a lot earlier yoga traditions, compiled the hatha yoga custom within the center ages and penned the well-known yoga textual content books the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Geranda Samhita.
It’s whereas doing these examinations that Singleton will get into water a lot hotter than a Bikram sweat. Thus I hesitate in giving Singleton a straight A for his in any other case glorious dissertation.
Singleton claims his challenge is solely the examine of contemporary posture yoga. If he had caught to that challenge alone, his e book would have been nice and obtained solely accolades. However sadly, he commits the identical blunder so many trendy hatha yogis do.
All yoga types are high-quality, these hatha yogis say. All homonyms are equally good and legitimate, they declare. Besides that homonym, which the cultural relativist hatha yogis understand as an conceited model of yoga. Why? As a result of its adherents, the traditionalists, declare it’s a deeper, extra religious and conventional from of yoga.
This sort of rating, thinks Singleton, is counterproductive and a waste of time.
Georg Feuerstein disagrees. Undoubtedly probably the most prolific and well-respected yoga scholar outdoors India at present, he’s a type of traditionalists who holds yoga to be an integral practice-a physique, thoughts, spirit observe. So how does Feuerstein’s integral yoga homonym differ from the non-integral trendy posture yoga homonym introduced to us by Singleton?