The New Yoga: From Cults and Dogma to Science and Sanity!
Where did most of your yoga moves come from? A guru from the annals of Indian folklore? Or are those "thousand-year-old poses" really a twentieth century invention hidden behind a veil of tall stories? Were they based on movement science-or cooked-up creations with a big pinch of folklore? The New Yoga takes a brutally hard look at these critical questions. It proposes six radical steps to strip away the nonsense and provide common-sense yoga for the future, based on movement science:
- Stretching is not the primary goal. Really? Yes. More important are ten other benefits including two new buzzwords, proprioception and interoception.
- Mobility tops flexibility. Focus on better control over a safe range of movement.
- "Practice and all is coming." Not so! Despite the famous guru's oft quotes words, we may never achieve certain poses. Trying will lead to injury.
- Avoid repetitive stress and encourage brain health with frequent and varying moves on and off the mat.
- 'Pretzels' pushing extreme flexibility lead to injury and misplaced envy. Hyper-mobility is not something to envy; it's sad.
- Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Maintain what works but question all for good evidence.
Rob Walker quotes a wide range of experts and speaks from his own 20-year yoga teacher-training experience. He dumps accepted dogma behind much current teaching and brings a fresh sparkle of evidence and science to twenty-first century yoga.
This book is a helpful aggregation of many other resources. I added many books and videos to my to read/watch lists. The history of modern yoga was particularly surprising and freeing! I appreciated the author's sharing of his own experiences and those of his colleagues in the yoga world.
I wish the author had repeated less and included more information. I would've enjoyed a longer exploration of each of the topics. I was put off by his obsessions around "weekend warriors" and instagram/Kino MacGregor -- while I understand his points (and often agreed), he could have made them in much more nuanced, and less judgemental/stereotyping ways (sorry for the sloppy grammar in this sentence).
Read after listening to interview in J Brown Yoga Talks.
A Cliff notes version distilling the evolution of yoga in the West as lineages crumble and research into best practices grows. He focuses on the excellent work of Jules Mitchell and Paul Grilley, among others, since his focus was on evolving asana. Yoga is much more than asana, and a book about the evolution of yoga needs to include accessibility, revisions to teacher trainings and the studio model, the exposure and expulsion of sexual predators and when lineages/gurus are no longer an authority, how do we work in horizontal communities ~ the work of Theo Wildcroft.
This is a very clear, informative book about how yoga asana is changing from traditional approaches to evidence based functional movement. It encourages teachers and students to consider function over form and individual benefit versus trying to achieve an uniform 'perfect' asana shape. Hurrah!
This book has lots of good information, especially about the true origins of what he calls Modern Postural Yoga. It's not particularly well written, and sometimes reads like a school paper that is primarily a list of quotes and citations. But it gets better in later chapters so if the topic interests you stick with it. The information is worth the occasional struggle.