Buddhist Books Blog

Readings and writings on Buddhism, yoga, and contemplative science

The Path of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein

The Path of Yoga: An Essential Guide To Its Principles and Practices by Georg Feuerstein.  Shambhala 2011.  180 pages.

This is a good introductory survey of the field of yoga by the man who is probably the most popular yoga scholar around.  I emphasize the word popular because I’m not actually sure how much cutting edge research (new translations, scholarly publications, etc) he’s actually doing these days.  Probably not much, since Feuerstein is now retired, but his books are generally so approachable that for people who want coverage of yoga’s intellectual heritage, he is often the go-to man. 

This particular offering is definitely for those just getting themselves wet in this area.  It covers the basic branches of yoga (raja, karma, bhakti, jnana etc), the guru relationship, ethical precepts, purification practices, diet, breath, mantras and, of course, all the more esoteric stuff about kundalini and left-handed sexual practices everyone loves.  Libraries could be filled by the tomes on such fare, so for a book under 200 pages this can’t be anything more than cursory, an almost bullet-point like survey. 

And that’s okay, provided it’s what you’re looking for.  Anyone who wants to do asanas will need to look elsewhere.  The same goes if you’re interested in some particular facet of yogic practice or theory, say concerning the chakras, or specs on hatha yoga, the yamas, or how to eat according to your dosha, etc.  It is what it is–a survey for new entrants–and that’s all it is.  If you’re new and just finding your way around the world of yoga, it’s a great book.  If you’re already pretty well-informed and want to start fleshing out some of yoga’s more rarefied nooks and crannies, look elsewhere–e.g. the author’s The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice.

My Amazon rating: 3 stars

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