Charles Dee Mitchell's Reviews > The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America

The Great Oom by Robert Love
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's review
Jun 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-autobiography
Read from June 25 to 30, 2010

Around here there are as many yoga studios as there are dry cleaners. So it's hard to imagine a time when yoga instruction could be linked to white slavery and sex orgies. This biography of Dr. Pierre Bernard covers the first half of the 20th century, and follows the life of a man that was equal parts Sanskrit scholar, yoga master, huckster, and civic promoter. This is the first I have heard of Dr. Bernard, who wasn't a doctor and whose name wasn't Bernard, so this biography was something of a page-turner. It's filled with scandals, famous names, elephant acts, baseball games, and as many reversals of fortune as a 19th-century novel. This sounds like an infomercial, but it really is entertaining and informative. The next time you are doing the Downward Facing Dog or struggling into a headstand, you can reflect that you are facing challenges faced by Vanderbilt heiresses, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Greta Garbo.
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03/30/2016 marked as: read

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