Tag Archives: books

2010: The Year of Ashtanga Books

The uncertainty of practice in 2009 and 2010 – Is the shala open?  Will Sharath be teaching?  etc. – seems to be coinciding with a sudden surge of literature on and of a yoga that has been notoriously silent (except in blogs and secret chat rooms of course).

Speaking of which, the blog “On the Ashtanga path while on mother Earth” cued us in on a couple of recent additions to our Yoga Reading List 2010

(clipped from industry press releases, although we’d be happy to review some copies…)


THE SUBTLE BODY:  The Story of Yoga in America

In The Subtle Body, Stefanie Syman tells the surprising story of yoga’s transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multi billion-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.

STEFANIE SYMAN , a literature graduate of Yale, was a founder of Feed, an early, award-winning Web magazine. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Yoga Journal. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and has practiced yoga for fifteen years.


GURUJI:  A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students

Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern
It is a rare and remarkable soul who becomes legendary during the course of his life by virtue of great service to others. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was such a soul, and through his teaching of yoga, he transformed the lives of countless people. The school in Mysore that he founded and ran for more than sixty years trained students who, through the knowledge they received and their devotion, have helped to spread the daily practice of traditional Ashtanga yoga to tens of thousands around the world.  Guruji paints a unique portrait of a unique man, revealed through the accounts of his students. Among the thirty men and women interviewed here are Indian students from Jois’s early teaching days; intrepid Americans and Europeans who traveled to Mysore to learn yoga in the 1970s; and important family members who studied as well as lived with Jois and continue to practice and teach abroad or run the Ashtanga Yoga Institute today. Many of the contributors (as well as the authors) are influential teachers who convey their experience of Jois every day to students in many different parts of the globe. Anyone interested in the living tradition of yoga will find Guruji richly rewarding.

became students of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1991. Donahaye is director of the Ashtanga Yoga Shala New York City. Stern is director of the Ashtanga Yoga New York and Sri Ganesh Temple, and copublisher and editor of Namarupa.

MARKETING:  Author Appearances

Releases July 20, 2010

Krishnamacharya:  His Life and Teachings

Written by A.G. Mohan


Krishnamacharya was a renowned Indian yoga master, Ayurvedic healer, and scholar who modernized yoga practice and whose students—including B. K. S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, T. K. V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi—dramatically popularized yoga in the West. This personal tribute to the father of modern yoga, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), is written by one of his longtime disciples, a well-respected yoga teacher and yoga therapist in his own right.

A. G. Mohan draws on his own memories and notes, and on Krishnamacharya’s diaries and recorded material, to present a fascinating view of the man and his teachings, and of his own warm and inspiring relationship with the master. It’s a valuable read for all yoga students, and an essential one for all experienced yoga teachers and yoga therapists who want to understand the source of their tradition and practice.

A. G. Mohan studied with Sri T. Krishnamacharya for eighteen years until the master’s death in 1989. He is the author of numerous books. He lives in Chennai, India, with his wife, Indra, and son, Ganesh. The Mohans also teach workshops in the United States, India, and Europe.

Releases July 13, 2010

Ongoing Reading List: India + Yoga + Hippies

Just got finished reading the latest in the Indiafile genre, which surprisingly, was not chick-lit.  It was a bit boring though.  Sorry. Magic Bus

And the list begins:

The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters by various

Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe

Asia On My Mind by Sally Hovey Wriggins

Dork Whore: My Travels through Asia as a Twenty-Year-Old Pseudo-Virgin by Iris Bahr

Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Fear and Loathing in New Jersey by Debra Galant

First There Is a Mountain: A Yoga Romance by Elizabeth Kadetsky

A girls’ guide to India – a survivor’s handbook by Louise Wates

The God of Small Things: A Novel by Arundhati Roy

Holy Cow:  An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald

Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East by Gita Mehta

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

Midnight’s Children: A Novel by Salman Rushdie

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America by Stefanie Syman

Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India by Beth Whitman, Amy Scott, and Elizabeth Haidle

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton

Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives by Mark Singleton, Jean Marie Byrne

Yoga School Drop Out by Lucy Edge

The Yoga Teacher by Alexandra Gray

In the news: A Diplomat’s Unlikely Rise to ‘Slumdog’ Acclaim

A Diplomat’s Unlikely Rise to ‘Slumdog’ Acclaim
By MARK McDONALD Published: April 1, 2009 NYTIMES

HONG KONG — It’s an impossible story, really, how a modest fellow from a family of lawyers becomes a back-office diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, writes his first novel in a feverish two months, finds a clientless agent over the Internet and has a British director turn his mid-list book into a movie that wins the best-picture Academy award and seven other Oscars.

The recent career trajectory of Vikas Swarup is nearly as preposterous as the plot of his novel, “Q & A,” the tale of an uneducated waiter from a Mumbai slum who wins a billion rupees on an Indian quiz show. Mr. Swarup, 47, recently found himself onstage at the Academy Awards, celebrating in the joyous scrum of young Indian actors from “Slumdog Millionaire.”

“Quite amazing,” he said in an interview here. “This kind of thing happens to Tom Cruise, not to authors. But I console myself that this too shall pass and life will return to normal.”

Any return to normal for Mr. Swarup, if that’s even possible now, could begin in Osaka, Japan, where this summer he will take over as consul general. His wife, Aparna, a painter, and their two sons will soon start packing for the move from their current posting in South Africa.

Mr. Swarup, during a brief Hong Kong vacation, was staying at the home of the Indian consul general, a longtime friend from the foreign service. During a long, animated conversation at the official residence on The Peak, an upscale neighborhood, the writer seemed genuinely amazed by his good fortune — with the film, with a renewed interest in his novel, at his luck in even being published at all.

And it’s luck that animates his novel, which is substantially different from the film. Mr. Swarup allows himself the occasional grimace in talking about the numerous changes in the script. But, ever the diplomat, he says the screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, and the director, Danny Boyle, stayed “faithful to the central narrative structure.”

That narrative is a series of flashbacks from the young waiter’s life — episodes that are by turns poignant, violent, whacky, woeful — that explain how he knows the answers to each of the quiz-show questions. Set against the poverty and predations in the slum of Dharavi, the novel (and the film) amount to a kind of docu-fable.

The word slumdog, an invention of the filmmakers, caused an immediate furor, as they no doubt expected, and criticism of both the novel and the film was deep and angry. It was particularly acid from within India.

“Poverty porn” has been a commonly heard label, and nationalistic critics have assailed the book for portraying some of India’s darkest sides — poverty, crime, violence, police torture, incest, child prostitution. The novelist Salman Rushdie savaged the novel as “a corny potboiler” and “the kind of fantasy writing that gives fantasy writing a bad name.”

Mr. Swarup was certainly stung by the criticisms, but said he understood the strong reactions.

“Indians are sensitive to the way their country is represented, but the film was not a documentary on slum life,” said Mr. Swarup. “Slums provide the backdrop to the story of the courage and determination of this boy who beats the odds.”

Beating the odds in “Q & A” required correct answers to a set of questions. So, in that spirit:

You arranged to get passports at the last minute for the two youngest kids in the film — who actually do live in a Mumbai slum — so they could travel to Los Angeles for the Oscars. They had no birth certificates?   more