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First Reviews of ‘The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards’ Roll In

in YD News

So there’s this book. You may have heard about it, or perhaps had a few opinions after that newspaper published a big article about it. The book is set to be released, as often books do, and there will be many more opinions to follow, also known as reviews.

Here are some of the first reactions from the yoga world on The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad, senior science writer for The New York Times. Oh, that book.

Leslie Kaminoff:

What Broad gets right: Coverage of scientific research and debunking some myths regarding oxygenation, yoga and weight-loss, etc.

The “terrible” parts: Regarding yoga causing strokes Leslie calls it bad science and bad reporting, citing the logistical rule that “correlation is not causation.”

“He has an agenda: yoga in the wrong hands is potentially dangerous.” Leslie describes how Broad makes up a narrative in the ‘Healing’ chapter where he pits Dr. Loren Fishman (“the good guy”) against Larry Payne, Ph.D. co-founder of International Association of Yoga Therapists, and here, “the bad guy.” Broad criticizes the IAYT and claims there is no legitimacy to IAYT accreditation.

Watch part 3 of Leslie’s Trilogy of Responses:

Ann Pizer, About.com: Once again, the goods bits are about debunking myths, but the drama is too much.

“…I got no pleasure from Broad’s naming names and taking individual teachers to task for their past errors. It’s as if he doesn’t believe in the inherent interest of his own scientific material. The serious nature of the book as a whole is undermined by the journalistic urge to heighten the story by pitting the good guys against the bad guys, and creating drama where none is required.”

Brooks Hall, brookshall.blogspot.com: Brooks finds the book to be overall “well put together, and full of interesting studies” including a “strong sexual thread” but also found the injury section to have gone a bit overboard.

But it did make me want to sharpen my eyes in teaching, and my practice. So that’s okay. It’s good to have more information, and a reporter’s ideas on a subject. But to have such a long and terrifying account of the subject of stroke and yoga, based on so little evidence seemed irresponsible especially in the excerpt that was published in the Times. It indeed painted a big picture, but what was it of? It seemed somewhat sensational, even though it is easy to recognize that there is the potential for danger in any activity. So that’s why it’s hard to completely refute Broad’s account of things. And it made me suspicious of The New York Times and perhaps how they perceive yoga that it would print such a biased piece with goofy photo illustrations that only served to make the subject matter more strange and even macabre.

The book is released February 7th. Stay tuned for more here at YD.



8 comments… add one
  • interesting, more pitting against pitting about pitting, such a pity

    but kudos to yogadork for continuing to keep this subject’s conversation going, cause when so many “experts” decide to disagree, then, at some point, some “ruling” body’s gonna decide it needs to, well, rule…

  • Jennie


  • there was also a review in this month’s Yoga Journal. it’s actually the best review i’ve read, balanced and informative.

    none of these are really reviews – they are more like reactions. i’d say that a review should include some information about the book and an opinion, as well as what works and what doesn’t work.

    but what we have here is a defense, a public humiliation, and a series of excerpts strung together with a focus on all the sex references throughout.

    here’s hoping this book can provoke some kind of intelligent discussion and not just emotional outbursts!

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