Saturday, January 8, 2011

Books!

I got so many books this year for Christmas.  I can't wait to dig in.  Here's the list:

Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Yoga Body
Ayurvedic Remedies
Autobiography of a Yogi
What We Say Matters

I already ripped through Yoga Body.  At first, I had a hard time getting into it. The tone is a bit academic.  It is after all the dude's dissertation.  But once I got around that, I really dug it.  It challenges a lot of assumptions about what is "authentic yoga" and particularly questions some of the myths surrounding Ashtanga Yoga.  The thesis, if I'm not misinterpreting, is that what we practice in the Anglophone world is really an amalgam of western practices that made it to India's YMCA and Indian yoga.  In particular, Ashtanga may borrow a bit from Danish children's gymnastics. 

Personally, I don't feel threatened or betrayed by any of this.  The author himself says that he didn't write this to invalidate the practice, but rather to clarify the origins.  I know what I get from the practice, little does it matter to me if it was really found in a text written on banana leaf which was later eaten by ants, or from gymnastics.  It's great fun, makes me feel calmer and more at ease, and keeps me in shape.  Although the banana leaf version of the story of Ashtanga's genesis is much more interesting. 

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