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21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice Paperback – September 19, 2012
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About the Author
Carol Horton, Ph.D., is the author of Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind with the Wisdom of the Body (Kleio, 2012); and Race and the Making of American Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005). Roseanne Harvey is the former editor of the leading Canadian yoga magazine, Ascent; founder of the popular blog, It's All Yoga, Baby; and co-director of Yoga Festival Montreal.
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Would highly recommend this to anyone who likes a "political" view of yoga and the west.
The questions were raised: Is the tradition of ancient yoga relevant in today's modern society? What is the State of the Union of yoga?
Was there a definitive answer to these questions? No. But, these essays made me think, which is the intention of the book. I believe deeply in the tradition of yoga. Personally, I don't like seeing the practice watered down and asana (physical postures) being the main focus. Some of the contributors addressed this, while others took a more political approach to the whole of yoga. A couple of them irritated me, while with others, I felt a kinship.
Whether I saw eye to eye with them or not, all of the contributors offered well thought out, passionate essays based on their personal experiences. Anorexia, war, drug abuse, beauty, yoga as responsible business, financial crisis, and building community were among of the topics discussed. What makes this work is that these are not big name, celebrity teachers, so there is less expectation of hearing about a particular agenda. It feels fresher, like voices from the crowd.
I could go through each chapter and give my opinions in this review, but I want you to read it without my bias. This is an important book for modern yogis, especially for those of us who teach. There are viewpoints offered that should be discussed if we want yoga to continue as a vehicle for healing and community, and not be just a workout. In the final chapter, Angela Jamison suggests that we should keep "speaking openly about esoterica" to help us move through this confusing time in yoga. Just like we need DNA from our ancestors to be born in this physical body, we need the ancient traditions as building blocks in our modern practice.
A good, but not great book.
I really related to Melanie Klein's essay linking yoga to self image. Women especially are in a constant search for perfection, and we consistently disappoint ourselves. It was refreshing to see my struggles mirrored in print. In my own practice, I too was able to find a path to self-acceptance, and I dare I say it, self-love. Say what you will about the industry that has built up around yoga, it's advantages far outweigh the marketing pitfalls. In our current society with all its pressures, yoga has become a safe haven for the mind and body. This book does a wonderful job shedding light on all the facets of this practice and all it has to offer to the practitioner.