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A lead science writer for The New York Times—and lifelong yoga practitioner—examines 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.
Five years in the making, The Science of Yoga draws on a hidden wealth of discovery, drama, and surprising fact to cut through the fog that surrounds contemporary yoga and to show—for the first time—what is uplifting and beneficial and what is delusional, flaky, and dangerous. At heart, it illuminates the risks and rewards.
Broad describes yoga as a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but millions of true believers and charismatic hustlers. He takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archives in Calcutta to 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. In the process, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the discipline can be improved.
About the Author
William J. Broad has practiced yoga since 1970. A bestselling author and senior writer at The New York Times, he has won every major award in print and television during more than thirty years as a science journalist. With New York Times colleagues, he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as an Emmy and a DuPont. He is the author or coauthor of seven books, including Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, a #1 New York Times bestseller. He lives in the New York metropolitan area with his wife and three children. He enjoys doing Sun Salutations.
Praise for The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards…
“Yoga, an ancient practice with millions of modern practitioners, has been the subject of overheated speculation and grandiose claims; it has been dismissed without warrant as well, underappreciated by some who might well benefit from it. The Science of Yoga is a lucid and long overdue account of what scientists have found in their attempts to ferret out the truth about what yoga can and cannot do to heal and make better the body and mind. It is a fascinating and important book.”
—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Touched With Fire
“The Science of Yoga offers a riveting, much-needed, clear-eyed look at the yoga mystique. In this investigation, science journalist William Broad pulls back the curtain on the little-discussed world of yoga injuries and risks, while setting the record straight about the numerous potential benefits. Downward dog will never look the same.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“If this book doesn’t motivate you to practice yoga, nothing will. Broad sheds light on yoga’s health benefits and hoaxes, covering everything from headstands to hypertension, the vagus nerve to the YogaButt. Finally I understand why I feel so good when I do yoga. His lively exploration of its evolution from Benares to Beverly Hills flows like any great practice should – with intelligence, good humor and some mindblowing insights.”
—Priscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe – My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life and co-author of The Faith Club
“After reading The Science of Yoga, I am even more awed by the magnificent complexities of the human body and mind, and astonished that we can exert so much control over this invisible realm through the practice of yoga. Broad has not only thoroughly researched his topic, he has lived it.”
—Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams
“William Broad is optimistic and hopeful in pointing the way to its future as a major force in preventing and treating disease.”
—Gail Sheehy, author of Passages in Caregiving
“In this compelling work of investigative journalism, William Broad exposes the ”scientific” claims made about yoga—from its much-vaunted healing powers to yogasms—to scientific scrutiny. The Science of Yoga is a wonderful read that any yoga practitioner thirsting for authenticity should study carefully before suiting up.”
—David Gordon White, author of Kiss of the Yogini
"Dramatic...a flair for provocation…valuable.”