The Path of Modern Yoga
The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice
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.
Fitness trainer Goldberg presents a richly detailed examination of modern yoga, beginning on the opening pages with Shri Yogendra and his experience of meeting his guru in 1916 at the age of 18. Goldberg divides the book into three major parts: "Divesting Yoga of the Sacred," "Making Yoga Dynamic," and "Making Yoga Sacred Again." In each section he explores some of the major players (11 in all) who shaped the development of modern yoga, including Yogendra, who eventually stripped hatha yoga of what he called its "mysticism and inertia" and ushered its conversion from intimate devotion to a single guru into the modern-day class session with a yoga instructor and fellow students. Other luminaries profiled here are Swami Kuvalayananda (who lived with a pet deer), T. Krishnamacharya (a bullying yet "brilliant innovator"), and the Russian-born Indra Devi (who used yoga to combat anxiety and exchanged her Western garments for a trademark sari). As Goldberg traces yoga's path from sacred ritual to physical exercise to embodied spiritual practice, yoga practitioners and scholars alike will be fascinated by these yogin pioneers and their colorful stories. Goldberg offers a vibrant and accessible study of yoga's history, growth, and transformation. 99 b&w illus.