This book has several applications for seekers: I came to it to deepen my understanding of mantra and the yoga of sound/vibration in meditation, and fThis book has several applications for seekers: I came to it to deepen my understanding of mantra and the yoga of sound/vibration in meditation, and for a more in-depth look at the Sanskrit language. Frawley is very knowledgeable about these subjects, as well as more devotional and esoteric practices (Vedic astrology, Vashtu, and less esoteric, Ayurveda) surrounding mantra and bhakti yoga.
I downloaded this free ebook a few months ago from my library and decided to pick it up while I was waiting for my car at the mechanic. I was not famiI downloaded this free ebook a few months ago from my library and decided to pick it up while I was waiting for my car at the mechanic. I was not familiar with Swami Sivananda Radha's work, although she was very prolific. Born in Germany, well-traveled and educated, she moved to India and joined the ashram of Sivananda. After years of study, she then moved to British Columbia and started her own ashram.
The collection of 20 short essays scratches the surface of yoga practice, and Radha has a clear writing style that draws from both Eastern and Western wisdom traditions. I will return to this one soon for a second reading/reflection. ...more
The composition is beautiful - mythology and art go hand in hand. The detailed cover art and the renderings throughout the book were a wonderful additThe composition is beautiful - mythology and art go hand in hand. The detailed cover art and the renderings throughout the book were a wonderful addition. Some of the stories are classics, and others are from a more oral tradition, told to Kapur from various sources. This oral tradition is particularly interesting, as many of these cited stories are new to me - including the title story of "Ganesha Goes to Lunch".
The book is broken up into sections, and each section includes a one-page introduction to a certain god and his feats.
Considering the vast nature of Hindu mythology, I wanted more from this book. Kapur focuses on the male gods, and the only goddess that gets any real screen time is Parvati in one incarnation (she's great!) but where are Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, and Kali?
If you are looking for a more comprehensive introduction to Hindu mythology, this is not it. However, it is a beautifully told and illustrated book of a sliver of the pantheon.
Concise book about yin theory and practice - good stuff for first 2/3 of book. Lost me at the end. Bernie Clark's yin books are more comprehensive andConcise book about yin theory and practice - good stuff for first 2/3 of book. Lost me at the end. Bernie Clark's yin books are more comprehensive and better written, so if you want to learn more about yin, I recommend starting there....more
An academic journal article that morphed into a book - sometimes it worked well, other times not as succinctly. Jain makes some compelling arguments tAn academic journal article that morphed into a book - sometimes it worked well, other times not as succinctly. Jain makes some compelling arguments that yoga cannot be "claimed" by any group:
By the end of the first millenium C.E., yoga proponents in different Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions systematized yoga in definitive terms... following the twelfth century incursions of Muslims into South Asia, even Sufis appropriated elements of yoga."
She details Hindu and Jain yoga systems (the latter which gets very little mention in any other literature, clearly setting this work apart), but largely ignores Buddhist yoga tradition. The title of the book, referring to yoga as a commodity, is discussed in the text, but it isn't a comprehensive title for the book as a whole. This is a religious history scholarly approach to yoga - how it was practiced, how it is practiced now, and how it was made into a product.
The most readable chapters - almost standalone studies themselves - were:
-Chapter 4: Branding Yoga 20th/21st century yoga systems, namely Krishnamacharya and his disciples, and the further western branding of postural yoga. Her synthesis on Anusara and John Friend was of particular interest as I myself watched that one from the sidelines.
-Chapter 5: Postural Yoga as a Body of Religious Practice - the essence of this chapter was strong, but it did become a bit nit-picky as Jain criticized and picked apart another publication about the same subject. Still interesting to observe the yoga as religion vs spirituality aspect, and delving into the insider views of rituals, mantras, and "hierophany", the experience of the mundane flesh, bones, and physical movements as sacred. (Relating specifically to Iyengar's famous mantra The body is my temple, asanas are my prayers.
-Chapter 6: Yogaphobia and Hindu Origins Truly an interesting cultural lens here - seeing a particular entity ("yoga") and seeing how it is viewed and vilified as "demonic" by certain Christian groups, as well as purist Hindu groups who want to "reclaim". This chapter seemed to be the most original in the book.
One could easily pick this book up, read the Conclusion - a synthesis of everything in the book, and then go back into the chapters to delve in. There's some important work here, but I think it is harder to digest since it was written for an academic audience.
In the history of religions, there are no original ideas of practices, and there are no unchanging essences. Religious phenomena arise in continuous processes of syncretism, appropriation, and hybridization. Yoga is no exception. In short, the problem with any essentialist definition of yoga remains: Who's to say which, if any, yogis have it all wrong?