The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards
William J Broad
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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. A New York Times bestseller.
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 unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. He shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.
the Body Good?” American Council on Exercise, ACE Fitness Matters, September–October 2005, pp. 7–9. 68 sent out a press release: Anonymous, “ACE First to Evaluate Benefits of Yoga,” the American Council on Exercise, September 28, 2005, www.acefit ness.org/pressroom/419/ace-first-to-evaluate-benefits-of-yoga-br-i. 69 “Aerobics?”: John Briley, “Aerobics? Not Among Yoga’s Strengths,” Washington Post, October 11, 2005, p. F3. 69 Yoga Journal took notice: Sierra Senyak, “Flexible and Fit,”
muscular strain as an integral part: Masters and Johnson, Human Sexual Response, pp. 294–300. 182 puts the make on a nearby guy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rKR4tRevfU&feature=related. 182 campaign quizzed readers: Associated Press, “Berra Sues Network Over Ad,” New York Times, February 2, 2005, Section B, p. 6. 182 “Not tonight, hon”: Michael Crawford, “Not Tonight, Hon,” New Yorker, February 23, 2009, p. 50. 182 colleagues published two papers: Vikas Dhikav, Girish Karmarkar, Richa
Columbia University, a star of the biological sciences. They knew their stuff. The lead scientist, Marshall Hagins, had a doctorate in biomechanics and ergonomics and a clinical doctorate in physical therapy, and had practiced yoga for a decade. The study’s funding signaled its gravitas. Often, yoga investigators list no source of financial backing in their published work, implying that they undertook it on their own or with the aid of anonymous colleagues. That was the case with the Davis
center. The two met after Usatine walked away from a car accident but suffered serious back pain. He tried the usual treatments but got no relief. Soon he was referred to Payne and began a yoga routine that quickly ended his anguish. The men bonded over backs, healing, and a deep belief in the body’s hidden powers of recuperation. The two began discussing how to give medical students a sense of yoga’s benefits and soon founded an elective course. A medical-school first in the United States, the
person into “a virtuoso of a high order, with extraordinary power of expression, both in verse and prose, or extraordinary artistic talents.” His teachings—laid out in The Biological Basis of Religion and Genius—made the human potential movement seem like a tea party. A farm in southern Ontario became the headquarters from which Pond, his wife, and their friends spread the word. In 1986, they held the first of what would become decades of annual conferences under a big tent. They called their