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Authors: William J Broad

Tags: #Yoga, #Life Sciences, #Health & Fitness, #Science, #General

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

BOOK: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards
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“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.”

An Unquiet Mind
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 f lows like any great practice should—with intelligence, good humor, and some mind-blowing insights.”

Learning to Breathe:
My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life
and coauthor 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


The Science of Yoga
is a wonderful read that any yoga practitioner thirsting for authenticity should study carefully before suiting up.”

Kiss of the Yogini

William Broad, a lifelong practitioner, shows us that uncommon states are integral to a hidden world of risk and reward that lies beneath clouds of myth, superstition, and hype.

Five years in the making,
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 illuminates how yoga can lift moods and inspire creativity. He exposes moves that can cripple and kill. As science often does, this groundbreaking book also reveals mysteries. It presents a fascinating body of evidence that raises questions about whether humans have latent capabilities for entering states of suspended animation and unremitting sexual bliss.

The Science of Yoga
takes us on a riveting tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archives in Calcutta to the 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. Broad unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. In the end, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.


has practiced yoga since 1970. A senior writer at
The New York Times
, he has won every major award in print and television as a science journalist. With
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
(Simon & Schuster, 2001), a number one New York Times bestseller.

“William Broad is optimistic
and hopeful in pointing the way to
the future of yoga as a major force
in preventing and treating disease.”

—GAIL SHEEHY, author of
Passages in Caregiving




Also by William J. Broad

The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets

Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War
(with Judith Miller and Stephen Engelberg)

The Universe Below: Discovering the Secrets of the Deep Sea

Teller’s War: The Top-Secret Story Behind the Star Wars Deception

Star Warriors: A Penetrating Look into the Lives of the Young Scientists Behind Our Space Age Weaponry

Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science
(with Nicholas Wade)

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 2012 by William J. Broad

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Simon & Schuster Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition February 2012

SIMON & SCHUSTER and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at

Designed by Renata Di Biase

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Broad, William J

The science of yoga : the risks and the rewards / William J. Broad.

—1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.
   p. cm.
1. Hatha yoga. I. Title.
RA781.7.B757 2012
613.7'046—dc23                                                          2011020408

ISBN 978-1-4516-4142-4 (print)
ISBN 978-1-4516-4144-8 (eBook)

To Nancy
In Memoriam

There is no subject which is so much wrapped up in mystery and on which one can write whatever one likes without any risk of being proved wrong.

—I. K. Taimni, Indian scholar and chemist, on the obscurity of yoga

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BOOK: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards
7.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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