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Reviews history of yoga from 2,500 B.C. to 2012. How science has made yoga practice safer, healthier and secular.

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4,500-plus years of YOGA CHRONOLOGY

  • Aug 12, 2013


What a splendid book is WIlliam J. Broad's 2012 THE SCIENCE OF YOGA: THE MYTHS AND THE REWARDS!


It has history, analysis, black and white drawings of yoga poses like Cobra, Mountain, Head Stand, etc. THE SCIENCE OF YOGA reviews 150 years of Western Science (sometime in the hands of pioneering East Asians) chipping away at Hindu ideology and yoga practitioners' and teachers' quackery, deceit and exaggerations.


One of the book's finest features is its CHRONOLOGY, pp. xxv - xxxi -- seven full pages. In perhaps the boldest book review I have ever done I choose simply to sample, excerpt and/or paraphrase from the CHRONOLOGY. I am sure therein you will find more than enough material to make up your mind whether or no to read for yourself THE SCIENCE OF YOGA.


Here goes!






c. 2500   "Clay seals of the Indus Valley civilization show figures in poses considered the earliest known precursors of Yoga."




c. 400   "Patanjali writes YOGA SUTRAS, a series of aphorisms on enlightenment. It describes the value of sitting comfortably for meditation."


c. 600   "Tantra emerges in India and begins to spread through Asia. It worships female deities, roots its ceremonies in human sexuality, seeks supernatural powers for material gain, and cloaks its rites in secrecy."


c. 1200   "Gorakhnath, a Hindu ascetic ... fuses traditions of Tantra and body discipline into Hatha yoga. The goal is to speed enlightenment."


c. 1400 "Swatmarama writes HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA...fifteen postures..."


c. 1700   "The GHERANDA SAMHITA, a Hatha text, describes thirty-two postures."


1849 "Thoreau tells a friend that he considers himself a yogi -- first known instance of a Westerner making that claim."


1851 East Indian N.C. Paul -- educated in Western medicine in Calcutta -- "authors A TREATISE ON THE YOGA PHILOSOPHY, considered the first scientific study of yoga. ... human hibernation."


1918   Carl Gustav Jung begins a debate on whether kundalini yoga "represents a blessing or a curse."


1924   Jagannath G. Gune "founds an ashram south of Bombay..." Launches ongoing experimental study of yoga.


1927   "Gune advises Gandhi on how to treat high blood pressure."


1931   Gune publishes ASANAS (= yoga postures). No reference to the preternatural. "... focuses on health and fitness."


1938   Carl Gustav Jung says that kundalini can result in "real psychosis."


1965   B.K.S. Iyengar authors global bestseller LIGHT ON YOGA, aligns yoga with science.


1973   First brain strokes due to yoga are reported.


1975   Harvard M.D. Herbert Benson links yoga to hypometabolism: lowered rates of breathing, heartbeats, oxygen consumption.


1998   "The National Institutes of Health begin spending public funds on yoga research" eventually into "such conditions as diabetes, arthritis, insomnia, depression, and chronic pain."


2001   Discovery: "repeating a mantra reduces respiration by about half, calming the mind."


2002  A turning point year in public awareness that yoga can injure practitioners.


2004   Fast yoga breathing ruptured a woman's lung.


2007   Columbia and Long Island Universities "report that yoga fails to meet the minimal aerobic recommendations of medical and government groups."


2009  University of Pennsylvania: "yoga can reduce hypertension and its precursors."


2010   University of Maryland: "yoga equals or surpasses exercise in reducing stress, improving balance, diminishing fatigue, decreasing anxiety, lifting moods, and improving sleep."


2011   "Indian scientists report that intensive yoga can ease trauma from rheumatoid arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints that affects millions of people."



BOTTOM LINE: Non-aerobic Yoga can complement but cannot replace lifting weights, swimming or basketball for doing what only resistance training and aerobics can do. And it can also be dangerous, very dangerous. Read THE SCIENCE OF YOGA and find out much, much, more.



4,500-plus years of YOGA CHRONOLOGY 4,500-plus years of YOGA CHRONOLOGY 4,500-plus years of YOGA CHRONOLOGY

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August 12, 2013
At bottom, yoga is a good modality for enhanced relaxation and breathing.
August 12, 2013
Well said, dear JSM. Patrick K
August 12, 2013
Thank you.
About the reviewer
(Thomas) Patrick Killough ()
Ranked #94
I am a retired American diplomat. Married for 47 years. My wife Mary (PhD in German and Linguistics) and I have two sons, six grandsons and two granddaughters. Our home is Highland Farms Retirement Community … more
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