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Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Exercise & Fitness > Yoga > B0058M5TWO
  1. The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America
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  2. The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (18 reviews)
    Price R478.00

Additional Information

In The Subtle Body, Stefanie Syman tells the surprising story of yoga's transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multibillion-dollar American industry.

Yoga's history in America is longer and richer than even its most devoted practitioners realize. It was present in Emerson's New England, and by the turn of the twentieth century it was fashionable among the leisure class. And yet when Americans first learned about yoga, what they learned was that it was a dangerous, alien practice that would corrupt body and soul.

A century later, you can find yoga in gyms, malls, and even hospitals, and the arrival of a yoga studio in a neighborhood is a signal of cosmopolitanism. How did it happen? It did so, Stefanie Syman explains, through a succession of charismatic yoga teachers, who risked charges of charlatanism as they promoted yoga in America, and through generations of yoga students, who were deemed unbalanced or even insane for their efforts. The Subtle Body tells the stories of these people, including Henry David Thoreau, Pierre A. Bernard, Margaret Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Isherwood, Sally Kempton, and Indra Devi.

From New England, the book moves to New York City and its new suburbs between the wars, to colonial India, to postwar Los Angeles, to Haight-Ashbury in its heyday, and back to New York City post-9/11. In vivid chapters, it takes in celebrities from Gloria Swanson and George Harrison to Christy Turlington and Madonna. And it offers a fresh view of American society, showing how a seemingly arcane and foreign practice is as deeply rooted here as baseball or ballet.

This epic account of yoga's rise is absorbing and often inspiring―a major contribution to our understanding of our society.

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First Edition
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I wish that I liked this book. It was obviously extensively researched, and I learned some from it but find it suffers from an intellectual jumpiness. If it had only been about yoga in American literature and letters, -- her observations about yoga and American thinkers like Emerson and Thoreau are wonderful, -- I would have loved it. If she had restricted it to the subtle body and mystical physiology alone, it would have been nice for those who like that sort of thing. As is, this chronological history tosses in a great many topics without giving a reader a well-tasting salad. I found the tone rather snarky, too. The chapter that lumps together the yoga practices of Bikram Choudhury and K. P. Jois actually angered me. I saw the author forcing two very different yoga teachers into the same jello mold to make an intellectual argument and found it unlovely. I suggest checking this book out of a library before investing your precious yoga resources in it.
As a New Yorker who was first introduced to yoga in grade school Phys Ed in the 70s, this book shed light on my own experience and the evolution I have witnessed since learning my first pose. The information is superbly researched and the words beautifully chosen. It is a reader's book and most enjoyable.

What was most interesting to me was the perspective provided about the "overnight sensation" that is the yoga we can now find all around us. The book shares details of the struggle that yoga, or any ideas new to our culture, experiences when hoping to be understood whether it source is a person, a people or a concept. It shares with us vital happenings in the history of yoga within the societal context that shapes the events and the people making those events happen. It delivers what is promised by showing us, not a encyclopedic detailing of events, but how the subtle body of America interacted over time with the subtle body that was becoming the cultural concept of... Read more
selected this book because I am a yoga practitioner, however not hard core postures. it was interesting to get an historical perspective and avoid the contemporary overdone commercial hype.
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