A History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism

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A&C Black, Dec 8, 2005 - Religion - 282 pages

A History of Modern Yoga traces the roots of Modern Yoga back to the spread of western esoteric ideas in 18th century Bengal's intellectual circles. In due course Raja Yoga, published by Vivekananda in 1896, became the seminal text of Modern Yoga largely because, the author shows, it reconfigured the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali along the lines of a then emerging New Age occultistic style of secularised and individualistically oriented religiosity.

With regard to 20th century developments, this book proposes a four-fold typology of Modern Yoga comprising Modern Psychosomatic, Modern Meditational, Modern Postural and Modern Denominational forms. Iyengar Yoga, one of the most influential schools of Modern Postural Yoga, is then analyzed in the light of this framework, while the conclusion shows how a typical Modern Postural Yoga session may be interpreted to reveal the forms and contents of a healing ritual of secular religion.

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A history of modern yoga: Pata├▒jali and Western esotericism

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De Michelis (faculty of Divinity, Cambridge) has made an important contribution to modern scholarship in religion with this history of yogic practice. Many readers will find her style dry in the ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Elizabeth De Michelis is Gordon Milburn Junior Research Fellow at Oriel College, University of Oxford, UK.

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