[Buddha-l] FW: [INDOLOGY] Yoga Body, a book by Mark Singleton---Add "dharma"

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Thu Mar 10 11:14:43 MST 2011

X-posted because he adds something to the ongoing argument about
yoga today--ancient or modern.  The Singleton book, _Yoga Body_,
has been undergoing quite a discussion on a couple other lists,
Indology, and Indo-Eurasian Research. Maybe there are a few yoga
enthusiasts on this list who'd be interested in Singleton's book
and this contribution. 

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=11812  here's
where you can get the film _Yogis of Tibet_:


-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] On Behalf Of
mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 7:21 AM

Some of those who are interested in the substantive question of
the evolution of the asana system (and not the quibble about the
use of the word
"homonym") may wish to take a look at the documentary film "Yogis
of Tibet." This includes a striking scene of a monk performing
the physical yoga taught in connection with the "Six Dharmas of

Of course, one cannot affirm that this practice, in the form now
known, strictly repeats 10th-11th century Indian Buddhist
practice, as is claimed. But it should be noted that the textual
record about it in Tibet does trace back at least to the 12th c.,
so there is no reason to imagine that it is a very recent
invention, though it may have undergone some changes over time.

What is notable is that, although it does involve poses that also
are practiced in Hatha Yoga as we know it today, it resembles the
latter practice not at all. It is far more dynamic. 

I am not sure that it allows us to draw any firm conclusions
about the evolution of the asana system, but it does, in my view,
add a small bit to the evidence in favor of Singleton's essential
argument (which is not, as some have pointed out, the silly
question about whether "yoga" has become a homonym or not). I am
convinced that he is correct to hold that modern gymnastic yoga
emerged under the raj, and that the physical practices of earlier
Hatha Yoga were quite different.

Matthew T. Kapstein
Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Directeur d'études
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

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