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The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America

by

The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Pierre Bernard has faded from the ranks of such well-known names, but the man who popularized yoga in the United States, where 20 million people now practice it, was once the much-chronicled glittering sage of the Jazz Age. In The Great Oom, he's resurrected as an important cultural figure who blazed the trail for New Age spirituality and alternative health regimens." Winifred Gallagher, The Wilson Quarterly (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The amazing story of how yoga came to America — and the charming rogue who made it possible.

In Jazz Age New York, there was no place hotter than the Clarkstown Country Club, where celebrities such as Leopold Stokowski mingled with Vanderbilts, Goodriches, and Great War spies. They came for the club's circuses and burlesques but especially for the lectures on the subject at the heart of the club's mission: yoga. Their guru was the notorious Pierre Bernard, who trained with an Indian master and instructed his wealthy followers in the asanas and the modern yogic lifestyle.

Robert Love traces this American obsession from moonlit Tantric rituals in San Francisco to its arrival in New York, where Bernard's teachings were adopted by Wall Streeters and Gilded Age heiresses, who then bankrolled a luxurious ashram on the Hudson River-the first in the nation. Though today's practitioners know little of Bernard, they can thank his salesman's persistence for sustaining our interest in yoga despite generations of naysayers.

In this surprising, sometimes comic story, Love uncovers the forgotten life and times of the colorful, enigmatic character who brought us hatha yoga. The Great Oom delves into the murky intersection of mysticism, money, and celebrity that gave rise to the creation of one of America's most popular practices and a five billion-dollar industry.

Review:

"Eastern spirituality and Western commercialism fuse in this flamboyant tale of an iconic American guru. Journalist Love tells the story of Pierre Bernard, a yoga adept from Iowa who made a splash at the turn of the 20th century by enduring bloody piercings and lacerations under trance. His Tantrik Order of disciples in San Francisco and New York soon gained notoriety; after police raided his schools, Bernard was accused of seducing girls and conducting sacred orgies. Delighted tabloids dubbed him 'The Great Oom.' Bernard rehabilitated himself in the 1920s with the Clarkstown Country Club, a yoga-themed resort and rehab center for the rich on the Hudson, financed by a parade of heiresses who fell under his sway. Love makes his hero a quintessentially American character who yoked his mystic bent to a brash entrepreneurialism; with the riches he made from his yoga initiatives, he started a chemical company, an airport, a semipro baseball team with a midget second baseman, and a trained elephant act. Love credits Bernard with changing public perception of yoga from dissolute exoticism to healthful normalcy, but this colorful, frenetic tale reminds us that money is America's true religion. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Full of titillating detail, Love's account is exemplary popular history, tracing the intersection of influence, taste, and charisma in the propagation of practices that were originally esoteric, tantalizing, and scandalous." The New Yorker

Review:

"Pierre Bernard is a truly Gatsby-like character...and Love's portrayal of him has the savor of fiction." The San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Entertaining and enlightening . . . This compelling history features movers and shakers from the worlds of entertainment, art, high society, finance, and industry." Yoga Journal

Review:

"Thoroughly researched, vividly written, and often fascinating." The New Republic

Synopsis:

Love uncovers the forgotten life and times of Pierre Bernard, the colorful, enigmatic character who introduced hatha yoga to America, in this surprising, sometimes comic story.

Synopsis:

The amazing story of how yoga came to America-and the charming rogue who made it possible

In Jazz Age New York, there was no place hotter than the Clarkstown Country Club, where celebrities such as Leopold Stokowski mingled with Vanderbilts, Goodriches, and Great War spies. They came for the club's circuses and burlesques but especially for the lectures on the subject at the heart of the club's mission: yoga. Their guru was the notorious Pierre Bernard, who trained with an Indian master and instructed his wealthy followers in the asanas and the modern yogic lifestyle.

Robert Love traces this American obsession from moonlit Tantric rituals in San Francisco to its arrival in New York, where Bernard's teachings were adopted by Wall Streeters and Gilded Age heiresses, who then bankrolled a luxurious ashram on the Hudson River-the first in the nation. Though today's practitioners know little of Bernard, they can thank his salesman's persistence for sustaining our interest in yoga despite generations of naysayers.

In this surprising, sometimes comic story, Love uncovers the forgotten life and times of the colorful, enigmatic character who brought us hatha yoga. The Great Oom delves into the murky intersection of mysticism, money, and celebrity that gave rise to the creation of one of America's most popular practices and a fivebillion-dollar industry.

Synopsis:

"Rollicking and well-researched...A story of scandal, financial shenanigans, bodily discipline, oversize egos and bizarre love triangles." -Wall Street Journal

More than fifteen million Americans currently practice yoga (according to Yoga Journal), but how many of them know the true story of how Downward Dog first captivated America? Resurrecting a fascinating and forgotten tale, journalist Robert Love returns to the Gilded Age, when Dr. Pierre Bernard (né Perry Baker in Iowa) revived a discipline banned in Victorian India, packaged it for Americans, and taught legions of followers, who bankrolled his luxurious Hudson River ashram- the first in the nation. Filled with Jazz Age celebrities, heiresses, spies, and outraged clergy, The Great Oom is the enthralling life story of the unlikeliest of gurus, and a stunning saga of mysticism, intrigue, and the American dream.

About the Author

Robert Love was the managing editor of Rolling Stone and executive editor of Best Life. He is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Observer, and the Utne Reader. He lives with his wife in Nyack, New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670021758
Subtitle:
The Mysterious Origins of America's First Yogi
Author:
Love, Robert
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Yoga
Subject:
United States Religion.
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
General History
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20110426
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photos throughout
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9.26x6.49x1.33 in. 1.49 lbs.
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Religion » Eastern Religions » Yoga

The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Viking Books - English 9780670021758 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Eastern spirituality and Western commercialism fuse in this flamboyant tale of an iconic American guru. Journalist Love tells the story of Pierre Bernard, a yoga adept from Iowa who made a splash at the turn of the 20th century by enduring bloody piercings and lacerations under trance. His Tantrik Order of disciples in San Francisco and New York soon gained notoriety; after police raided his schools, Bernard was accused of seducing girls and conducting sacred orgies. Delighted tabloids dubbed him 'The Great Oom.' Bernard rehabilitated himself in the 1920s with the Clarkstown Country Club, a yoga-themed resort and rehab center for the rich on the Hudson, financed by a parade of heiresses who fell under his sway. Love makes his hero a quintessentially American character who yoked his mystic bent to a brash entrepreneurialism; with the riches he made from his yoga initiatives, he started a chemical company, an airport, a semipro baseball team with a midget second baseman, and a trained elephant act. Love credits Bernard with changing public perception of yoga from dissolute exoticism to healthful normalcy, but this colorful, frenetic tale reminds us that money is America's true religion. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Pierre Bernard has faded from the ranks of such well-known names, but the man who popularized yoga in the United States, where 20 million people now practice it, was once the much-chronicled glittering sage of the Jazz Age. In The Great Oom, he's resurrected as an important cultural figure who blazed the trail for New Age spirituality and alternative health regimens." (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
"Review" by , "Full of titillating detail, Love's account is exemplary popular history, tracing the intersection of influence, taste, and charisma in the propagation of practices that were originally esoteric, tantalizing, and scandalous."
"Review" by , "Pierre Bernard is a truly Gatsby-like character...and Love's portrayal of him has the savor of fiction."
"Review" by , "Entertaining and enlightening . . . This compelling history features movers and shakers from the worlds of entertainment, art, high society, finance, and industry."
"Review" by , "Thoroughly researched, vividly written, and often fascinating."
"Synopsis" by , Love uncovers the forgotten life and times of Pierre Bernard, the colorful, enigmatic character who introduced hatha yoga to America, in this surprising, sometimes comic story.
"Synopsis" by ,
The amazing story of how yoga came to America-and the charming rogue who made it possible

In Jazz Age New York, there was no place hotter than the Clarkstown Country Club, where celebrities such as Leopold Stokowski mingled with Vanderbilts, Goodriches, and Great War spies. They came for the club's circuses and burlesques but especially for the lectures on the subject at the heart of the club's mission: yoga. Their guru was the notorious Pierre Bernard, who trained with an Indian master and instructed his wealthy followers in the asanas and the modern yogic lifestyle.

Robert Love traces this American obsession from moonlit Tantric rituals in San Francisco to its arrival in New York, where Bernard's teachings were adopted by Wall Streeters and Gilded Age heiresses, who then bankrolled a luxurious ashram on the Hudson River-the first in the nation. Though today's practitioners know little of Bernard, they can thank his salesman's persistence for sustaining our interest in yoga despite generations of naysayers.

In this surprising, sometimes comic story, Love uncovers the forgotten life and times of the colorful, enigmatic character who brought us hatha yoga. The Great Oom delves into the murky intersection of mysticism, money, and celebrity that gave rise to the creation of one of America's most popular practices and a fivebillion-dollar industry.

"Synopsis" by ,
"Rollicking and well-researched...A story of scandal, financial shenanigans, bodily discipline, oversize egos and bizarre love triangles." -Wall Street Journal

More than fifteen million Americans currently practice yoga (according to Yoga Journal), but how many of them know the true story of how Downward Dog first captivated America? Resurrecting a fascinating and forgotten tale, journalist Robert Love returns to the Gilded Age, when Dr. Pierre Bernard (né Perry Baker in Iowa) revived a discipline banned in Victorian India, packaged it for Americans, and taught legions of followers, who bankrolled his luxurious Hudson River ashram- the first in the nation. Filled with Jazz Age celebrities, heiresses, spies, and outraged clergy, The Great Oom is the enthralling life story of the unlikeliest of gurus, and a stunning saga of mysticism, intrigue, and the American dream.

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