Simultaneously celebrated as a 5,000-year old spiritual practice and booming $10 billion “industry,” yoga today is a strange mix of fitness, therapy, mysticism, and commercialism. In Yoga Ph.D., political science professor-turned-yoga teacher Carol Horton presents a fresh take on how to understand – and work fruitfully with – this strangely paradoxical and surprisingly popular practice, which is being actively pursued by over 20 million Americans today.
Contemporary yoga, Horton explains, is a direct outgrowth of the tradition of modern yoga first developed in early 20th century India. Designed to work in modern societies that tend to alienate us from our own bodies, this novel form of yoga developed new ways of working with and through the body to spark psychological and spiritual growth.
While this dedication to using the body to liberate mind, heart, and spirit remains central to yoga today, the growing commodification of the body in American society threatens its efficacy as a modern mind-body-spirit practice. Reversing this troubling trend, Yoga Ph.D. concludes, requires integrating more critical thinking into what is quickly becoming an excessively commercialized practice.
Carol Horton, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Chicago, served on the faculty at Macalester College, and has extensive experience as a research consultant specializing in issues affecting low-income children and families. A Certified Forrest Yoga teacher, she teaches women incarcerated in the Cook County Jail with Yoga for Recovery, and at Chaturanga Holistic Fitness in Chicago. She is the author of "Race and the Making of American Liberalism," and co-editor (with Roseanne Harvey) of "21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice."
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