This book cover promised promises to scientifically examine the risks and rewards of practicing yoga. This interpretation is misleading, however. I was hoping for clarity on how certain poses or techniques are beneficial or risky – a true scientific examination of yoga that could be directly applied to my practice.
William Broad instead examines the history of the science of yoga in an almost chronological fashion, organized in vaguely entitled chapters like health, fit perfection, risk of injury, and healing. The author views the science of yoga as a disjointed field that is reaching a critical evolutionary point, and this perspective is apparent throughout the muddle of the book. Furthermore, the rambling prologue and overzealous epilogue politicize the subject and throw the author’s credibility into question.
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Although this book did not meet my expectations, it does cite several sources for scientific research on yoga worth examining further. It also is a fascinating, and therefore relatively quick, read. In my own practice, which barely spans two years, I have experienced many of the benefits of yoga that are touched on throughout the book.
Fortunately, the risks of certain poses were brought to my attention more than a year ago. My awareness benefitted from reading this article highlighting the risks of yoga , a quick article adaptation from The Science of Yoga that highlights the same risks with the same stories. The author’s connections with the New York Times and publicity must immeasurably contribute to the popularity of his novel, despite its failure to actually explain the science of yoga.