Abstract: Mark Singleton’s Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010, viii + 262pp) is an investigation into the roots and early development of contemporary transnational (anglophone) yoga, specifically looking at its curious transformation from a predominantly anti-āsana philosophical outlook around the close of the nineteenth century into an almost exclusively āsana-based practice during the first half of the twentieth century. Singleton’s study reveals the decisive role that the ideals and practices of the international physical culture movement as well as Hindu nationalism played in the reinvention of haṭha yoga for modern middleclass audiences preoccupied with holistic health, fitness, strength and self-improvement. The present essay offers a comprehensive synopsis of Singleton’s Yoga Body, followed by an assessment of Singleton’s findings and a personal perspective (as former yoga practitioner) on their broader significance. I also look at the popular and academic reception of the work and conclude with a few final remarks on, among others, the importance of reflexivity in yoga scholarship.
Tan Twan Eng’s The Gift of Rain (book review) – Beautiful, sad and sensitive portrayal of love, betrayal and guilt in a complex master-disciple relationship set against the backdrop of the build-up to, reality and aftermath of the Japanese occupation of the island Penang (then a British colony) during World War II.
Enlighten Up! Another Yoga Sceptic’s Thoughts on the Film – A discussion and analysis of a documentary dealing with the experiences of a 29-year-old yoga newbie who toured the US and Indian yoga circuit for six months in 2004, in the hope of finding a guru and practice that can transform his life.