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The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice Paperback – October 31, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Hohm Press; 3rd edition (October 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890772186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890772185
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Feuerstein is a renowned yoga scholar and a tireless communicator, sharing his knowledge in more than two dozen books on the subject as well as translations of key yoga scriptures. Most Westerners have a limited understanding of what the term yoga, which means "union," implies. Feuerstein describes yoga as a "spectacularly multifaceted phenomena," and performs a truly yogic feat by combining commentary with translated Sanskrit teachings, history with theory, the spiritual with the practical, and the classical with the contemporary. He illuminates every facet and phase of yoga from its roots in shamanism to its connections to the complex and dynamic spirituality of India, especially yoga's relationship with Hinduism and Buddhism. Feuerstein explicates the different yogic schools and profiles key yoga teachers. Yoga is a vast and vital universe maintained over the centuries by the discipline and persistence of its practitioners, who strive to join the physical with the spiritual, the "individual self with the supreme Self." No more adept or comprehensive study of yoga aimed at a Western audience is to be found. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Without a doubt the finest overall explanation of Yoga ... Destined to become a classic. -- Ken Wilber, author of A Brief History of Everything.

Customer Reviews

Georg Feuerstein is great.
If you are interested in Yoga philosophy & history this book is a great place to start and may be all you need.
Very informative and easy to digest.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This extraordinary work represents a lifetime of devotion to yoga by its preeminent Western scholar. It is at once a distillation and compilation of all that Georg Feuerstein has gleaned in his extensive travels both academically and spiritually. It greatly broadens the usual scope of yoga to include its manifestation in other religions and goes back in time to the edge of the prehistory. Feuerstein understands that yoga is both an ancient practice, and, by itself, a profound and venerable religion. More than anything, however, it is a salient expression of the culture and philosophy, the lifestyle and history of the Indian subcontinent where it was the midwife of the great religions of Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism and of course that great body of belief and practice known as Hinduism.

Feuerstein is in one sense a true believer. He has devoted his life to the study of yoga and attendant phenomena, in particular Hinduism and the broad Tantric tradition. One gets the sense that even here in this lengthy work, he knows much more than he is conveying; that there is a synergistic power in his extensive knowledge that allows him to know things that he cannot express. One feels his intense desire to say something that perhaps cannot be said, something spiritual and personal that can only be experienced.

In another sense he is a hard-working scholar who reports on what he has learned without passing unnecessary judgments or drawing unwarranted conclusions, although he does interpret. He is, in this sense, the American expression of the great Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade (who wrote in French) with perhaps a pinch of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, on the one hand, and the English tantrist Sir John Woodroffe, on the other, folded in.
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67 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Lori Sandler on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Being a long time student of various yoga and related traditions, I humbly bow to the author for his vast and accurate knowledge of the subject. This work gives exceptionally unbiased, clear and insightful treatment of the diverse spiritual traditions. A result, I believe, of open mindedness and deep understanding. This is extremely rare for works in this category. Actually, there are no other books like it, period. The volume, clearly the distillate of many years of diligent study and practice, contains abosolutely no fluff, and everything is backed up by authoritative materials. In one easily understandable reference work, it makes available the many wisdom teachings spanning a great time period and geographical locations. Not only does it provide a bird's eye view of this vast and complex field, it also provides a rich historical context, which greatly aids our understanding. If I had access to the information contained in this book years ago, it would have saved me much grief and helped me to progress further and sooner. A must read for any serious student on the spiritual path.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on December 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When this book came in the mail and I started looking through it I was absolutely thrilled. It provides a great overview of the yoga tradition by a scholar-practioner with over 30 years experience studying and practicing. I have similar books that cost much more than this and they are good, but not necessarily as readable as this volume.

In brief, this book covers the scope of yoga and lays a foundation for an overview of the various branches of yoga. In talks about the history of the yoga tradition and does so in an engaging way, even if you aren't a big history buff. In my opinion, it provides just the right amount of detail.

This title also looks at the yoga tradition within Buddhism and the relationship between Buddhism and Hinduism. It also helps the reader to sort out all the various sacred texts, how they are related to each other and even provides sample readings.

The treatment of the classic yoga, the post-classical period and the flowering of the tradition is interesting and informative. It also talks about tantric traditions and modern movements and scholars such as Sri Aurobindo. The author also provides a great framework and organizes all of this information in an easy and enjoyable read.

If you have ever been confused over the historical details of the various yoga traditions, the overlap or relationships between them, this text will set you on the right path. It also has an excellent glossary, comprehensive index and an above average bibilography. For about $20.00 this book delivers a lot of value. I recommend it without reservation to anyone interested in the evolution of yoga at any level of practice.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By on June 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is very refreshing to see a westerner who really understands the heart,soul,and original pupose of all yogas. Most westerners assume Yoga to be a merely stretches and postures. In reality, there are many different paths of yoga--all invented to ultimately lead the soul to complete liberation, although a lot of people (even some self-designated "gurus") don't know or lose sight of this. I was very sceptical as to whether a westerner giving an honorable representation of this majestic science, and to give an honorable IN-DEPTH presentation at that!
As Ken Wilber states (in other words) in the foreword...we DO have in Feuerstein the perfect and necessary blend of a scientifically minded scholar and devoted practitioner.
HUGE BOOK!!! The size of an actual encyclopedia. But, if you have any clue as to how deep and rich the yoga tradition is, and if you also appreciate it's beauty...or even if you think it's a bunch of hooey and want to know whether you are right or not, it is an immensely scholarly--yet readable sourcebook. MUST HAVE!
(p.s.--I like old george now.)
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More About the Author

Dr. Georg Feuerstein (born 1947) is a German-Canadian Indologist. Feuerstein has authored over 45 books on mysticism, Yoga, Tantra, and Hinduism and Buddhism.

Dr. Feuerstein offers distance-learning courses on Yoga philosophy and history through Traditional Yoga Studies at

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