Bad reading habits and the sweet spot for yoga books

I’ve gotten into some bad habits, which has messed up my goal of being more relevant on this blog.

For Christmas, I got a Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB and my reading habits started to scatter in all directions. Lots of impulse buying because I get immediate satisfaction (if I’m near WiFi; I did not buy the model with the wireless connection). I have not finished reading a book before I find another interesting literary detour. The Kindle Fire has a great color screen so it can handle magazine subscriptions and long reads from the web (sent via Evernote). This is a major improvement over my old Kindle 2, which was monochrome and optimized for pure text.

To make matters worse, I still have a weakness for print books, especially when I can get them at discount prices: I visit once a month to see what bargain books are available. Frequently, they are cheaper than Amazon (digital or hardcopy), even after adding shipping.

At least, I can be sure that the yoga-related books I buy will have a longer life span of usefulness than the shelves of computer books I bought for my daytime job.

Hitting the target

Cover art of Yoga PH.D.
Cover art of Yoga PH.D.

For the past three days, I’ve been reading Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body by Carol Horton (Facebook). I’ve always admired her blog, but it takes discipline and smarts to switch to an extended narrative for hundreds of pages. Bluntly, it’s the kind of yoga book that I would like to write: well-researched, thoughtful, curious, insightful, and compelling. She managed to hit my sweet spot for yoga books by combining the virtues of her own academic background with journalistic instincts and the first-hand experience of an evolving yogini that becomes immersed in the cultural waves that are cresting over us all. Once I read the Preface, I had to drop my rotation of books, and focus on Horton’s book. It’s not a book about proper alignment in asanas or the depths of yogic philosophy. It looks at the big picture of how we might understand the expansion of yoga in Western mainstream culture. I am not going to attempt a full review here and now (She got some good reviews of GoodReads.) because I want to read the whole book. But I did not want to let the initial flash of enthusiasm get by without laying down a marker and link (my scatter-shot mind has led to many incomplete blog entries, as well as abandoned books.)

I’ve also purchased a hard copy of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practicethat Horton and Roseanne Harvey edited, but have been carrying it around since December without making a dent in it (See what I mean about attention span). I know that I should read this collection of essays about postmodern yoga in (North — don’t forget the Canadians) American culture from 10 authors, but my frontal cortex fights my heart and soul. Horton should also be commended for self-publishing both this essay collection and her own book.

Finally, I am also motivated by selfish interests: in her bibliographic essay at the end of Yoga PH.D., she mentioned this blog as one of the online sources that fed into the process of reflection for the book. She must have been reading Prana Journal a couple of years ago, because I haven’t been doing much insightful writing lately. I was deeply touched when I read my inclusion in the list of influential blogs and it spurred me to pop off a blog entry.

So I will be reading Yoga PH.D. on my daily commute for the next few days, nodding when I agree, questioning if we should explore further in a particular direction and jotting down the stream of ideas that my reading stirs up.