Friday, December 9, 2011

History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism by De Elizabeth Michelis




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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