Most helpful positive review
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Powerful, Poignant, and Prescient
on October 4, 2012
I received my copy of 21st Century Yoga a couple of days ago and have not been able to put the collection down! I am a voracious reader, so I when I come across a book, essay, or article that stands out from the legion of texts that I have read: it really means something. This is the first Amazon review that I have ever written; I was motivated to write because of the impact that the essays had upon me. The collection comprises a diverse array of essays examining the various incarnations and manifestations of yoga in the present day. I was especially intrigued by the personal nature of many essays. Melanie Klein's essay, "How Yoga Makes You Pretty: The Beauty Myth, Yoga and Me" examines the way in which the practice of yoga powerfully counteracts the mainstream media "assault" upon the self-image and subjectivity of females (and also males). Klein combines historical and critical analyses of the culture's relentless "pursuit of pretty" with powerful personal experience. Klein so successfully taps into the universal female struggle against objectification and for acceptance that I felt as though she was telling my own story. For centuries women having been fighting an impossible battle to "measure up to mainstream standards of beauty." I describe this battle as 'impossible' because the ends are inherently unattainable. Mainstream media promises us that happiness lies in shedding that final five pounds, so we lose the five pounds and: surprise, surprise the promised 'happiness' eludes us. Maybe we try losing another five or maybe disillusioned and frustrated we pack on another five pounds, maybe we shelve the idea of weight loss altogether and turn instead to focus on 'improving' our wrinkles or our hair...however the specific cycle manifests itself, it is just that an endless self-reproducing cycle: the jungian equivalent of the Uroborus (the dragon or snake swallowing its own tail). And, as Klein argues, "The idea that we can simply 'turn off' or 'ignore' these messages is narrow in scope and shortsighted" (30). Until I began reading 21st Century Yoga, I had pretty much resigned myself to the futility of finding satiating peace and acceptance in regards to my body and appearance.
Oh, forget to mention...I am not even a Yoga-fan. I have taken two, maybe three, yoga classes and wasted most of each class giggling uncomfortability. While this book, certainly has inspired me to give yoga a second chance, its value and meaning are not restricted to yoga devotees!
This review is getting a little long but let me list some of the crucial topics that the essays in this book touch upon: Addiction, Anorexia, The Extension of Yogic Principles and Practices to the Outside Community, War: Yoga as a Means of Returning Equilibrium to Our World, Composition and Creation Facilitated by the Practice of Yoga, and Yoga and Violence.
I highly recommend this book for anyone searching for a way to lead a more meaningful and compassionate life. If you or anyone close to you harbors vague ideas about wanting to 'improve the world' but have no idea how to go about it or if it is even possible: this collection contains an invaluable dialogue providing fecund and fertile ground for reflection and discussion!
The holidays are still a couple of months away but I cannot think of a more perfect gift than 21st Century Yoga!