Short review of: “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards”

The Science of Yoga. The Book.
The Science of Yoga. The Book.

I already wrote something about this book written by William J. Broad, who is a Pulitzer prize winner, journalist/writer and an experienced yoga practitioner.

The book is very precise putting science first and from there it explained to us what and how yoga is doing what it does. All the good -and bad- sensations, the relaxation and the “connection feeling”, have a physical/chemical reason behind it and it was really interesting for me to know more about the different studies and investigations that had and have been taking place around the subject.

It´s obvious that the author has experienced many of the benefits of the practice. But he has many questions and they motivated him to write the book to be able to share what science knows about the practice and to show us that we have a long way in front of us on this matter.

A few fast ideas that came to me during/after reading the book:

–       I felt motivated to learn more about the origins of the yoga practice and how it evolved from “an obscure cult steeped in magic and eroticism” to what we are doing today.

–       What an interesting re-interpretation of the Hatha Yoga concept !

–       I am quite more optimistic about the “injuries” subject. The author really wants to scare people and, from my experience things are not that bad. But the truth is that a practice guided for inexperienced people can be really risky. As my master, paraphrasing Guruji, says: Yoga can show you the nectar of life but, in the wrong hands, it can also show you the poison.

–       It´s scientifically proved that yoga keep us young! (pag. 43-44)

–       Yoga is not an aerobic workout by itself, you can make it aerobic: “The more aerobic you make yoga, the less improvement you´ll see in those other areas.” (Relaxation, concentration, reducing fatigue and pain and others)

–       Yoga, pranayama and other breathing techniques does not increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.

–       I´m really proud to be a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. Guruji´s work is really close to science even though at the beginning “only” his heart and intuition were guiding him. Today his work and approach to the practice is illuminating it in a very deep and incomparable way.

I can´t say that I liked the book (but I guess that´s what happened with science, you don´t need to like it, the information is there telling you how the things are) despite that, from my point of view, the book is a MUST for yoga teachers and practitioners. It has a really good intention behind it: make yoga more professional and safe.

It´s not that negative after all:

“Western science tends to view the body as a fixed thing with unchanging components and functions. But yoga starts from a different premise. It sees a lump of clay. The body in this view is awaiting the application of skilled hands.”

hands-potter-wheel
“We are the clay”.

HERE you have another interesting article written by Broad about how the practice is different for men and women. He talks about the different approach that guys vs girls have to the practice and how this makes them an easy target for specefic -and sometimes more serious- injuries.

 

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