Virtual Satsang

Resources for the community of seekers

Recommended Reading: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

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Yoga Body is part of the author’s (Mark Singleton) PhD disseration at Cambridge University. While it can be a bit dry in some places, it provides a wonderful overview of current (academic) research into how modern Yoga Asanas evolved.

I recommend Yoga practitioners read the final Chapter first  (“T. Krishnamacharya and the Mysore Asana Revival”), as many will recognize many of the key figures discussed. Krishnamacharya is best known for having taught some seminal Yoga teachers (B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois among others) who went on to popularize asana practice in the West. In the final chapter, Singleton  provides convincing documentary evidence (and supporting interviews) that explains how Krishnamacharya (and his students) likely put together the sequences many have come to enjoy. Krishnamacharya was heavily influenced by the gymnastics, body-building, and physical education trends of the time. Suryamanaskar, which later became central to Krishnamacharya’s Mysore style, wasn’t part of yogasana when he first started teaching. Singleton argues that Suryamanaskar arose from a multitude of influences — and not the Vedas or some ‘lost texts’  as Pattahbi Jois claimed (see page 180).

Yoga Body is a must-read for Yoga practitioners curious about how some of the more popular asanas (and modern postural Yoga itself) came to be.

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Written by virtualsatsang

September 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Posted in History, Yoga

Tagged with , , ,

5 Responses

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  1. [...] distortion field:  As I highlighted in an earlier post, Krishnamacharya’s Mysore yogasala was heavily influenced by athletics and physical education. [...]

    Mala Beads « Virtual Satsang

    September 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

  2. [...] a comment » The first post on this blog was a short review of Mark Singleton’s excellent historical analysis of the true [...]

  3. [...] Listening to the interview, I get the sense that Krasny is primarily referring to religious faith as opposed to Spirituality. Most of the spiritual seekers I admire, use scriptures, methods and practices from a variety of traditions. The best spiritual teachers are the ones that urge their followers to try things out, and not embrace practices out of blind faith. Spirituality is deeply personal, and practices that become popular enough that we take them for granted, are the result of innovation and investigation1. (1) As an example I’ve pointed out in a series of posts that modern hatha yoga is the result of innovations that started in the 1930′s, see [1], [2]. [3]. [...]

  4. [...] an interesting section in Mark Singleton’s book where he tries to understand the origins of Ashtanga Vinyasa: (pp. 184-186) In the official [...]

  5. [...] Gordon White’s forthcoming book (Yoga in Practice), as well as Mark Singleton’s recent book on postural yoga. The registration fee for non-members ranges from $325-$400, depending on when you [...]


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