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A Student's Guide to the History and Philosophy of Yoga

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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 book therefore 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.

Published: Apr 1, 2007

Section Chapter Authors
Abbreviations Peter Connolly
Sanskrit Letters and their Pronunciation Peter Connolly
Preface Peter Connolly
Introduction Peter Connolly
Chapter 1
Background to Yoga Philosophy Peter Connolly
Chapter 2
Yoga in the Texts of the Veda Peter Connolly
Chapter 3
The Śramanic Traditions: Jainism and Buddhism Peter Connolly
Chapter 4
The Epics and the Bhagavad Gītā Peter Connolly
Chapter 5
The Orthodox Philosophical Systems Peter Connolly
Chapter 6
Sectarian Developments: Śaivism, Śāktism and Tantra Peter Connolly
Chapter 7
Modern Yoga Peter Connolly
Chapter 8
Some Reflections on the Psychology of Yoga Peter Connolly
Chapter 9
Whither Modern Yoga in the West? Peter Connolly
End Matter
Appendix: Shifting Paradigms in Modern Yoga Peter Connolly
Notes Peter Connolly
Bibliography Peter Connolly
Index Peter Connolly

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...accessible, engaging and instructive for the inquiring, practical student of Yoga. ...The plentiful, extensive extracts from the primary texts, the scholarly background which contextualizes them, and the clarity of presentation throughout all confirm Connolly as a skilful teacher and will make his Guide a valuable resource for students of Yoga in the West.
International Journal of Hindu Studies 14, 2-3 (2010)

'Connelly's book offers something for students at many levels of inquiry on this ancient, and now modern, discipline.'
Cynthia L. Pauwels, Metapsychology, Vol. 14, Issue 28, July 2010

'In his introduction to the history of yoga traditions Peter Connolly skillfully guides the reader through the complexities of these traditions, demonstrating their historical relationships and their theoretical coherence. Intended for all students of yoga, this text provides a well written, thought-provoking and engaging account.'
Professor Gavin Flood, University of Stirling

'Offers an excellent text on Yoga that will appeal to students, teachers, and practitioners. Highly recommended.'
Choice (December 2007)

'Connolly's reach is broad and his vision acute.'
Religious Studies Review, Vol 35, Number 2, June 2009