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The Science of Yoga

The Risks and the Rewards
Paperback Book
Simon & Schuster
December, 2012
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Banyen's Description: 

In this unique book, William Broad, a lifelong yoga 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 what’s real and shows what’s illusory, describes what’s uplifting and beneficial and what’s 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 archives in 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 wannabe true believers and charismatic hustlers. In the end, he defuses myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a strong vision of how the ancient practice can even be improved.

Overall, the risks and benefits turned out to be far greater than anything I ever imagined. Yoga can kill and maim—or save your life and make you feel like a god. That’s quite a range. In comparison, it makes most other sports and exercises seem like child’s play.

My research has prompted me to change my own routine. I have deemphasized or dropped certain poses, added others, and in general now handle yoga with much greater care. I hope you benefit, too.

I see this book as similar to informed consent—the information that the subjects of medical experiments and novel treatments are given to make sure they understand the stakes, pro and con.

To me, the benefits unquestionably outweigh the risks.

Publisher’s Description: 

A lead science writer for The New York Timesand lifelong yoga practitionerexamines 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. A New York Times bestseller.

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