The Story of Yoga: sun salute for a colourful history well told

Book review: how ancient Indian practice became core to a western wellness industry

Yoga in a Dublin park. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Yoga in a Dublin park. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Every Monday evening an interesting ritual takes place in our sitting room. My wife and I practise yoga. What makes it strange is that my wife who is English has been doing yoga for over 25 years and the tutor is Brazilian and often goes to India to keep up with yoga practises but I have only just taken to yoga and that with great reluctance. This is despite the fact that I was born in India and lived there for the first 21 years of my life. And while I am beginning to enjoy the sessions, I feel what we do is more body yoga of stretching limbs rather than the mind yoga of my Hindu ancestors. The result is that when our Brazilian tutor places a lavender bag over our eyes and asks us to relax instead of meditating, which would connect me with the one supreme consciousness that the ancient Hindu sages talk about, I am relieved the exercise is over and eagerly look forward to a glass of red wine.

What makes the yoga story truly remarkable is that even as late as the 1950s, both in the US and the UK, yoga was shunned

In many ways our Monday ritual sums up what has happened to this ancient Hindu spiritual discipline.

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