A lead science writer for The New York Times—and lifelong yoga practitioner—examines centuries of history and research to scrutinize the claims made about yoga for health, fitness, emotional wellbeing, sex, weight loss, healing, and creativity. He reveals what is real and what is illusory, in the process exposing moves that can harm or even kill. A New York Times bestseller.
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 unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. He shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.
As he did with the ancient Oracle in Delphi, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Broad attempts to elucidate another subject shrouded in myth and mystery. Positioning yoga at a turning point in its centuries-old history, he points to pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries who applied scientific rigor to claims of miraculous powers and cures and discovered some of the physical, mental, and emotional mechanisms by which yoga produced tangible, and sometimes paradoxical, benefits. With dramatic writing and a flair for provocation e.g., he states that hatha yoga began as a sex cult and that yoga has many "dirty little secrets" Broad takes readers through a whirlwind tour of yoga's high and low points, declaring with examples of recent research its ability to calm the nerves, tone the body, revitalize sex, spark creativity, and heal injuries, as well as cause strokes and maim. A longtime student of yoga, Broad is also a skeptic wary of tantric showmen of ages past and contemporary yoga entrepreneurs like Bikram Choudhury and advertisers hawking everything from clothing and jewelry to beverages and peace of mind in the pages of Yoga Journal. But he is also quick to credit instructors like Amy Weintraub, who created from personal experience an effective yoga program to fight depression. While Broad's report is an unusual and valuable addition to typical yoga books on the market, some readers will feel the loss of the spiritual, which is a basic root in the yoga mix.
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The only book of its kind
While there are libraries full of yoga books, this one is the only one I know of that delves into the science behind the practice. The author handles the pros and cons very fairly. Not only did I learn the fascinating history and evolution of yoga, I learned what NOT to do as well as why (physiologically) I feel good when I do certain positions.
Changed the world of yoga
This book deserves nothing less than five stars.
The value of the information in the book is unparalleled.
I am feel awe and shame for people who gave anything less than five stars.
I own the audiobook and the ebook.
I am thankful to the author for creating such a gem of knowledge.