One of the excellent benefits of living in south India is meeting people who know alot about south India. Sounds circular, but occasionally the people are specialists on topics we have come to care deeply about. We met a group of Sanskrit scholars yesterday quite by chance, one of whom is a leading authority on the texts that are the earliest documentation of what we now call yoga.
When we mentioned our interest in yoga from the lay perspective, because we offer yoga experiences in various properties we manage in Asia and Latin America, it led to a simple question: where can we learn the most, most accessibly, about the real origins of yoga? The answer was this book and this author (incidentally a friend and colleague of the one to whom we were asking the question. So over at Oxford University Press this is what we found.
With a bit more searching we found this excellent BBC Radio 4 segment from just a few months ago that features the same scholar, Mark Singleton, and is worth a listen if you are interested in the origins of modern yoga. And a bit more searching led to this book, available a few months from now, for those who want to dig a bit deeper into the scholarly work:
The first single, reliable collection of primary material from the source traditions of yoga
Despite the immense popularity of yoga today, there is surprisingly little knowledge of its roots among practitioners. This book brings together, for the first time, the core teachings of yoga in the words of their authors, rather than in the secondary versions of modern interpreters. Including key passages from the Upanishads, the Buddhist and Jaina traditions, the yoga sections of the Indian Tantras, and many texts that are being critically translated for the first time, Roots of Yoga provides a comprehensive and immediate insight into the essential texts of the Indian traditions of yoga. This book is a first stop for anyone wishing to learn more than they are told at their yoga class, and an indispensable resource for serious yoga practitioners and teachers.