When we roll out our mat we seldom – or at least that’s my experience – think consciously about the traditions and history behind our practice. There’s a rich and varied heritage to yoga, and it would be a lifetimes practice to understand it.
This book, which has been on my reading pile for a while, attempts to unravel that heritage systematically. It’s a big undertaking, hence why the book runs to 430 pages – and large dense pages at that. The author looks at the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of yoga over centuries, the traditions that have contributed to modern yoga, and traces these to the current eastern and western incarnations of yoga. He does this thoroughly and in considerable detail.
Such a work is not going to be without controversy as interpretation and dating are not exact, but you get the impression the author is being fair in his work and looking at all angles. That said a book life this can only ever present one perspective, that’s the nature of endeavouring to systematise and record in writing a complex oral and practical history. I don’t say this critically, but to make the point that a scholar of yoga needs to read widely and study under wise teachers, and a book of this nature is but part of that jigsaw.
In all this is a good, if detailed book, and one I would recommend to anyone seeking to read more widely around the spiritual and philosophical aspects of the yoga tradition, away from the twists and turns of technical postural yoga.