December 5, 2008

Book Review: The Inner Tradition of Yoga: A Guide to Yoga Philosophy for the Contemporary Practitioner (Michael Stone)

The fact that yoga has gone mainstream is undeniable. Yoga studios seem to be springing up around the country almost as fast as the next Starbucks or McDonald’s.

With that has come the concern that yoga has or is becoming diluted; transforming into nothing more than aerobics or pilates, but for the “hip” crowd who go to the studio and then grab a double-grande-mochafrappacappucino-with-organic-soymilk from the drive-thru (so much easier than climbing in and out of the SUV) on the way home. Michael Stone‘s The Inner Tradition of Yoga is the counterbalance to that. Stone encourages the reader to not only take yoga off the mat and into the world, but also to take yoga out of the head and into the heart. This elegantly written book draws more parallelisms between yoga and Buddhism than the average person may think, which isn’t actually all that surprising, considering the social and historical circumstances of the historical Buddha, but apparently it’s an issue of some sort with just as many yogis as Buddhists, as evidenced by Shambhala Sun dedicating a whole issue to the idea this past July. Stone references both Patanjali and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois throughout the text, and provides rather insightful interpretation and commentary on the thoughts of both renowned individuals. Whether a beginning yoga practitioner or experienced yoga instructor, The Inner Tradition of Yoga should be required reading. The book includes a glossary of Sanskrit terms as well as a pronounciation guide, and includes a foreword by Richard Freeman that is as thought provoking as the rest of the book. From Shambhala Publications and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

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