The word 'yoga' conjures up in the minds of many Westerners images of people performing exercises and adopting unusual, sometimes contortive postures. Such exercises and postures do have a place within the practice of yoga, but it is much more than that. Indeed, the early literature on yoga describes and defines it as a form of mental rather than physical discipline. Yoga is also associated with the Indian subcontinent and the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. This revised edition of a classic textbook concentrates on the evolution of yoga in the context of Indian culture, though the final chapters also explore some of its links with non-Indian mystical traditions and some of its developments outside of India during the modern period. The book is aimed at both university students taking courses in Comparative Religion and Philosophy and practitioners of yoga who seek to go beyond the activity and explore its spiritual dimensions. Hence, it presents yoga in the context of its historical evolution in India and seeks to explain the nature of its associations with various metaphysical doctrines.
The work also draws upon a number of conceptual schemes designed to facilitate comparative study. Some of these are employed throughout the book so as to link the material from each chapter together within a common framework. This edition incorporates revisions and expansions to most chapters and contains one new chapter on the future of modern yoga in the West.
Peter Connolly holds BA, MA and PhD degrees in Comparative Religion and Philosophy from the University of Lancaster and a BSc in Psychology from the Open University. From the late 1960's until the mid 1980's he studied and practiced a variety of meditational techniques, ranging from the devotional style of the Divine Light Mission and the Radha Soami Satsang to Tibetan Lam Rim and the more austere approach of Thravada insight meditation as well as some shamanic methods. He has taught Indian religion and philosophy on BA and MA courses for over 30 years and has worked with various yoga organisations throughout that time. He is interested in how people go about constructing histories of yoga and the methods they use for making sense of yoga texts. He is also fascinated by all forms of altered states of consciousness and has trained in both Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnosis, both of which offer an interesting perspective on the psychology of yoga.
Introduction 1. Background to Yoga Philosophy 2. Yoga in the Texts of the Veda 3. The Sramanic Traditions: Jainism and Buddhism 4. The Epics and the Bhagavad Gita 5. The Orthodox Philosophical Systems 6. Sectarian Developments: Saivism, Saktism and Tantra 7. Modern Yoga 8. Some Reflections on the Psychology of Yoga 9. Whither Modern Yoga in the West?