cover image The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice

The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice

Elliott Goldberg. Inner Traditions, $39.95 (512p) ISBN 978-1-62055-567-5

Fitness trainer Goldberg presents a richly detailed examination of modern yoga, beginning on the opening pages with Shri Yogendra and his experience of meeting his guru in 1916 at the age of 18. Goldberg divides the book into three major parts: “Divesting Yoga of the Sacred,” “Making Yoga Dynamic,” and “Making Yoga Sacred Again.” In each section he explores some of the major players (11 in all) who shaped the development of modern yoga, including Yogendra, who eventually stripped hatha yoga of what he called its “mysticism and inertia” and ushered its conversion from intimate devotion to a single guru into the modern-day class session with a yoga instructor and fellow students. Other luminaries profiled here are Swami Kuvalayananda (who lived with a pet deer), T. Krishnamacharya (a bullying yet “brilliant innovator”), and the Russian-born Indra Devi (who used yoga to combat anxiety and exchanged her Western garments for a trademark sari). As Goldberg traces yoga’s path from sacred ritual to physical exercise to embodied spiritual practice, yoga practitioners and scholars alike will be fascinated by these yogin pioneers and their colorful stories. Goldberg offers a vibrant and accessible study of yoga’s history, growth, and transformation. 99 b&w illus. (Aug.)