Yoga in America

Graphic: Cover art of the book
Stefanie Syman wrote an ambitious book about 200 years of yoga in America

Writer Stefanie Syman has really bitten off a big chunk of history when she outlined her book, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2010). Moreover, it deals with the cross-cultural meldings and misapprehensions of India and America along the fault lines that distinguish each country’s soulscape and other terrains.

That storyline arches from the Transcendentalists getting their cues about meditation third hand from English overlords of India (circa 1845), to the recent decades after the Woodstock generation lost faith in the its post-modern gurus like Muktananda (Siddha Yoga) and Prabhupada (Hare Krishnas).  Syman has succeeded in making it a fascinating, thought-provoking read.

There is too much material to limit my commentary to a single blog entry so I am going to stretch this out over several days. I bought the electronic version of the book from Amazon and am reading it on my netbook while riding the Metro to and from work. It saves me bulk in my shoulder bag. As an added bonus, I am linking to several sites that can expand perspective on Syman’s book.

Extra Credit

Publisher’s write-up
Interview in Elephant Journal
Interview in YogaDork with Stefanie’s list of recommended references on yoga
Feminist Review
Well and Good NYC review
Slate’s review: Why Americans Love Yoga

More to come soon. Enjoy.