The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice

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Simon and Schuster, Jul 18, 2016 - Health & Fitness - 512 pages
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.

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The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

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 ... Read full review


Yogic Physical
Creating the Profession
Taking Practical Yoga
Making Yoga Gentle
Claiming Yoga
Promoting Yoga
Meditating on the Body
The Sun Salutations
Worshipping the Sun Indoors
Fitness Benefits
Infusing Yoga

Muscle Cult
Reconciliation of Muscle Cult and HataYoga Cult
Mixing Bodybuilding
Presenting Surya Namaskar
Making Surya
Making Yoga into

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About the author (2016)

Elliott Goldberg is one of the few scholars in the emerging field of modern yoga studies. He has presented papers at the Modern Yoga Workshop at Cambridge University and at the American Academy of Religion (AAR). He is a fitness trainer in New York City.

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