If you’re not a regular NPR listener you may have missed yesterday’s episode of On Point with guest Stefanie Syman, author of The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, which coincidentally happened to be released yesterday as well, believe it or not (June 29). If you haven’t already heard about the book, we’ll tell you, it’s exactly as the title suggests, subtly.
Yes, it’s official, Yoga is as American as capitalism! Yoga has found its way to the mainstream (Ms. Syman cites the tipping point as yoga on the White House Lawn in ’09). But are these mutations and fusions, staged events in large parks, myriad of commodities, and use in TV ads and major motion pictures what yoga is really all about? For the good, the bad and the ugly it’s taken about 150 years of yoga assimilation to arrive where we are today, a billion dollar industry. But how did we get here? And can we accept that so many people flock to practice (spending tons of $$) for the physical aspect? Is American Yoga in the mind or the body, or can it be both? Does it matter?
Stefanie Syman, an ashtangi of 15 years, speaks on the beginnings of yoga in the land of the free including connections with Emerson and Thoreau – “The first lineage of American yogis”, the 1920’s spurt of hatha with Pierre Bernard and Yogananda, the 1940’s Hollywood wave (Greta Garbo was a fan), other open-minded folks like Aldous Huxley and Allen Ginsberg, Swami Satchidananda, and how we as a culture deal with these so-called yogi rock stars, some of whom inevitably, with so much power, stray to disillusionment and corruption. (*gasp*)
The interview is interesting stuff for sure and includes caller questions and Boston-based yoga teacher Barbara Benagh sharing comments. We may just have to add this book to the mile-long summer reading list. Speaking of which, we are hereby deeming 2010 the year of yoga media explosion! look out.
- book site: http://thesubtlebody.net/
- Read an interview with the Stefanie Syman at YogaCityNYC
- Gwen Bell’s tea party with the author
- WSJ on Asana Assets: Where Are India’s Yogapreneurs?
- 10 Things You Need to Know About Pierre Bernard, ‘The Great Oom’, America’s First Yogapreneur
- Patently Preserved: India Will No Longer Let You Steal Their Yoga
- Yoga and Hinduism: Deepak Chopra vs. Aseem Shukla Beef Continues with Fervor, Religious and Non