About the Guest:
Mark Singleton gained his Ph.D in Divinity from the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively on the history of yoga, including the books Yoga in the Modern World, Contemporary Perspectives (ed., 2008); Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (2010); and Gurus of Modern Yoga (ed., 2014), as well as many book chapters and articles. Most recent is the book Roots of Yoga (2017, with James Mallinson), a unique compendium of yoga practice texts translated from Sanskrit and several other languages. He taught for six years at St John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico), and was a Senior Long-Term Research Scholar at the American Institute of Indian Studies, based in Jodhpur (Rajasthan, India). He was a consultant and catalogue author for the Smithsonian exhibition, Yoga the Art of Transformation‚ in 2013. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at SOAS, University of London, where he works on the European Research Council-funded Hatha Yoga Project (hyp.soas.ac.uk), which seeks to map the history of hatha yoga from its origins to modern times. He is also a practitioner of yoga and holds several teaching qualifications.
In this episode, we discussed:
- The premise and focus of Mark’s book Yoga Body
- The evolution of postural yoga
- The meaning of vernacular yoga
- How/why modern yoga can be defined as a ‘renaissance’ and how this term is problamatic
- How the terms ‘participant experiencer’ and ‘scholar practitioner’ differ in meaning
- How the concept of yoga can be described as constructionist vs essentialist, and how practitioners’ worldview can include both.
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I’m not convinced my yoga is better than your yoga because I am not in your body or your life or your circumstances or family constellation. I do not know where you come from or what makes you tick. I do not know what your body “needs”.
If the yoga industry wants to thrive again, it needs to start teaching more than fitness. Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel- all the techniques already exist within yoga’s traditions to offer a class that touches every part of our being. By offering more integrated classes that include pranayama, mantra, meditation and kriya, we can now provide a yoga experience, instead of just yoga poses.
Just as each feature of cosmic order has an essential nature, cosmic order itself has an essential nature. Bringing ourselves into harmony with the essential nature of cosmic order is the way by which we can live peacefully in the world. Conversely, dissonant action relative the essential nature of cosmic order brings about chaos and destruction.
Nikki Costello is an educator with 30 years of teaching and training experience in the Yoga and Wellness industry. She works at the intersection of social justice and Yoga with a focus on facilitating new models of embodied leadership.