An earlier version of this article first appeared in Yoga International.
The 2010 publication of Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, marked a watershed moment in the history of global asana culture.
What was the big deal? A writer equally committed to research and practice produced a work of academic scholarship so rich, accessible, and interesting it quickly broke into the non-academic reading lists of enthusiastic practitioners and top-shelf trainings in the English-speaking world.
Mark Singleton’s book sparked countless conversations about the meaning of social authenticity in a practice meant to reveal personal authenticity. It revolutionized the genetic view of yogic transmission – in which instructions are handed down unchanged across generations and postcolonial boundaries – with epigenetic considerations of cultural, historical, and technological influence.
It showed that yoga is not an artifact, but an organism, and that its teachers may be less guardians of the essential than they are curators of the useful. Continue reading “Mark Singleton Responds to Critics Who Didn’t Want to Understand His Book”
The Unbearable Distance of Belief: Notes on Icons, Appropriation, and the Second-Order Religiosity of Modern Yoga
I’m willing to bet that I’ve crossed the thresholds of a hundred or more yoga studios across the Americas and Europe. Most spaces play on the post-industrial vacancy of their former purposes: studios spring up in converted warehouses, old factory lofts, and now, I hear, in several abandoned malls of the Rust Belt. The first yoga studio I opened was in a vacant building on the riverfront of Baraboo, Wisconsin, in a bright open room where B-grade maple floorboards still bore the scars of the tool-and-die cutters that had roared there a generation before. Continue reading “The Unbearable Distance of Belief: Notes on Icons, Appropriation, and the Second-Order Religiosity of Modern Yoga”