Synopses & Reviews
IN THIS REMARKABLE BOOK ABOUT YOGA, William Broad, a lifelong practitioner, shows us that uncommon states are integral to a hidden world of risk and reward that lies beneath clouds of myth, superstition, and hype.Five years in the making, The Science of Yoga draws on more than a century of painstaking research to present the first impartial evaluation of a practice thousands of years old. It celebrates whats real and shows whats illusory, describes whats uplifting and beneficial and whats flaky and dangerous—and why. Broad illuminates how yoga can lift moods and inspire creativity. He exposes moves that can cripple and kill. As science often does, this groundbreaking book also reveals mysteries. It presents a fascinating body of evidence that raises questions about whether humans have latent capabilities for entering states of suspended animation and unremitting sexual bliss.The Science of Yoga takes us on a riveting tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archivesin Calcutta to the world capitals of medical research, from storied ashrams to spotless laboratories, from sweaty yoga studios with master teachers to the cozy offices of yoga healers. Broad unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. In the end, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.
"As he did with the ancient Oracle in Delphi, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Broad attempts to elucidate another subject shrouded in myth and mystery. Positioning yoga at a turning point in its centuries-old history, he points to pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries who applied scientific rigor to claims of miraculous powers and cures and discovered some of the physical, mental, and emotional mechanisms by which yoga produced tangible, and sometimes paradoxical, benefits. With dramatic writing and a flair for provocation e.g., he states that hatha yoga began as a sex cult and that yoga has many 'dirty little secrets' Broad takes readers through a whirlwind tour of yoga's high and low points, declaring with examples of recent research its ability to calm the nerves, tone the body, revitalize sex, spark creativity, and heal injuries, as well as cause strokes and maim. A longtime student of yoga, Broad is also a skeptic wary of tantric showmen of ages past and contemporary yoga entrepreneurs like Bikram Choudhury and advertisers hawking everything from clothing and jewelry to beverages and peace of mind in the pages of Yoga Journal. But he is also quick to credit instructors like Amy Weintraub, who created from personal experience an effective yoga program to fight depression. While Broad's report is an unusual and valuable addition to typical yoga books on the market, some readers will feel the loss of the spiritual, which is a basic root in the yoga mix." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Yoga, an ancient practice with millions of modern practitioners, has been the subject of overheated speculation and grandiose claims; it has been dismissed without warrant as well, underappreciated by some who might well benefit from it. The Science of Yoga
is a lucid and long overdue account of what scientists have found in their attempts to ferret out the truth about what yoga can and cannot do to heal and make better the body and mind. It is a fascinating and important book.”
—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Touched With Fire
“The Science of Yoga
offers a riveting, much-needed, clear-eyed look at the yoga mystique. In this investigation, science journalist William Broad pulls
back the curtain on the little-discussed world of yoga injuries and risks, while setting the record straight about the numerous potential benefits. Downward dog will never look the same.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“If this book doesn’t motivate you to practice yoga, nothing will. Broad sheds light on yoga’s health benefits and hoaxes, covering everything from headstands to hypertension, the vagus nerve to the YogaButt. Finally I understand why I feel so good when I do yoga. His lively exploration of its evolution from Benares to Beverly Hills flows like any great practice should - with intelligence, good humor and some mindblowing insights.”
—Priscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe - My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life and co-author of The Faith Club
“After reading The Science of Yoga
, I am even more awed by the magnificent complexities of the human body and mind, and astonished that we can exert so much control over this invisible realm through the practice of yoga. Broad has not only thoroughly researched his topic, he has lived it.”
—Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams
“William Broad is optimistic and hopeful in pointing the way to its future as a major force in preventing and treating disease.”
—Gail Sheehy, author of Passages in Caregiving
“In this compelling work of investigative journalism, William Broad exposes the ”scientific” claims made about yoga—from its much-vaunted healing powers to yogasms—to scientific scrutiny. The Science of Yoga
is a wonderful read that any yoga practitioner thirsting for authenticity should study carefully before suiting up.”
—David Gordon White, author of Kiss of the Yogini
"Dramatic...a flair for provocation…valuable.”
A lead science writer for The New York Times—and lifelong yoga practitioner—examines centuries of history and research to scrutinize the claims made about yoga for health, fitness, emotional wellbeing, sex, weight loss, healing, and creativity. He reveals what is real and what is illusory, in the process exposing moves that can harm or even kill.
Five years in the making, The Science of Yoga draws on a hidden wealth of discovery, drama, and surprising fact to cut through the fog that surrounds contemporary yoga and to show—for the first time—what is uplifting and beneficial and what is delusional, flaky, and dangerous. At heart, it illuminates the risks and rewards.
Broad describes yoga as a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but millions of true believers and charismatic hustlers. He takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archives in Calcutta to world capitals of medical research, from storied ashrams to spotless laboratories, from sweaty yoga studios with master teachers to the cozy offices of yoga healers. In the process, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the discipline can be improved.
About the Author
William J. Broad has practiced yoga since 1970. A bestselling author and senior writer at The New York Times, he has won every major award in print and television during more than thirty years as a science journalist. With New York Times colleagues, he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as an Emmy Award and a DuPont. He is the author or coauthor of seven books, including Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, a #1 New York Times bestseller.