The Story of Yoga
This Year’s Must Read!
‘The Story of Yoga offers an absorbing chronicle of the rise of yoga, tracing its evolution through history to its rapid proliferation today, with insights into the challenges on the way ahead. Exceedingly accessible and engaging, this is the definitive account of the remarkable growth of one of the world’s most popular and beneficial human activities’.
Shashi Tharoor best selling author and cultural commentator, former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India.
This is the fascinating story of how a venerable Indian spiritual discipline turned into a £20 billion-a-year mainstay of the wellness industry. Tracing the steps along yoga’s winding path from the caves and forests of the sages to the gyms, hospitals and village halls of the modern West, it sets yoga in its global cultural context for the first time, and shows how the practice relates to important contemporary social currents. These include female empowerment, celebrity culture, the stress pandemic and the quest for authentic identity in the time of cultural crisis and widespread confusion. An engaging tale of scholars and scandal, science and spirit, wisdom and waywardness. This is the untold story of yoga, warts and all.
Alistair Shearer is a cultural historian specialising in the art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent, a former lecturer at The School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and a teacher of meditation and the psychology of yoga. His books have been translated into all major European languages, as well as Japanese and Hebrew, and his translation of the Yoga Sutras has remained in print for almost forty years Alistair is co-creator of an award winning retreat hotel (www.neeleshwarhermitage.com) on the coast of Malabar, in Kerala.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Published 23 January 2020
Available from all good bookstores and from Amazon. Spread the word on social media!
‘This is a tale of what happens when East and West meet, and about a shift from the sacred to the secular. [Yoga’s] journey west gives Shearer a compelling cast of characters.’ — The Sunday Times
‘Erudite, scholarly and engrossing.’ — The Sunday Telegraph
‘Amid a sea of guidebooks, historian Alistair Shearer has provided a worthwhile counterpoint, [offering] advice as important as any guru’s techniques.’ — Financial Times
‘The Story of Yoga offers an absorbing chronicle of the rise of yoga, tracing its evolution through history to its rapid global proliferation today, with insights into the challenges on the way ahead. Exceedingly accessible and engaging, this is the definitive account of the remarkable growth of one of the world’s most popular and beneficial human activities.’ —Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire
‘The history of East meeting West through Yoga is as complex and enigmatic as it is important. Alistair Shearer unfolds the narrative with just the right combination of scholarly rigour and compelling prose.’ –– Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda and The Life of Yogananda
‘Frequently amusing, but always scholarly and engaging, Shearer’s study deftly works it way through the history of yoga, from the purity of Patanjali’s Sutras to the mix’n’match brands endorsed by modern celebrities.’ —John Zubrzycki, author of Empire of Enchantment: The Story of Indian Magic
‘A clear-eyed, elegantly written and wonderfully informative history of yoga … Shearer’s remarkable book is a wide-ranging and rather sobering discussion on the nature of authenticity.’ – The Spectator
In the Light of the Self: Adi Shankara and the Yoga of Non-dualism
Adi Shankara was a South Indian sage and the foremost teacher of Advaita Vedanta, the perennial philosophy that lies at the heart of all religions. Such is his stature that even Ramana Maharshi, probably the best-known modern exponent of Advaita, referred to him simply as Acharya – ‘The Teacher’ – and translated some of his works from Sanskrit for his own devotees.
Advaita offers a vision of life as the manifestation of an absolute, non-dual consciousness transcending all time, space and causation, and it provides the direct means to experience this divine ground of all being as our own Self.
Far from being some dry and dusty ‘Indian philosophy’, Advaita is a system of practical psychology, based on meditation and insight, that draws the practitioner into the deepest consideration of their own status and what it means to be a human being. As such, it is of immediate relevance to us today, torn as we are by questions of identity and purpose, and the struggle to resolve the age-old problems of ignorance, suffering and inequality.
This book presents the teachings of Adi Shankara in a highly approachable form through modern translations of his original writings, set in the lively context of his life and mission.
The author, Alistair Shearer, is well-known for his translations of Sanskrit classics: Selections from the Upanishads and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He is a long-time teacher of meditation in the lineage of Shankara.
Previous critical acclaim:
‘A lovely decanting of this very old wine into a sparkling new bottle.’ John Updike
‘This is the kind of text that one keeps close at hand like an old, wise and compassionate friend.’ Ram Dass
‘An elegant and valuable contribution to the growing corpus of Upanishadic texts in English.’ Dr. Karan Singh
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:
‘A wonderful translation, full of contemporary insight yet luminous with eternal truth.’ Jacob Needleman
About the author
Alistair Shearer (www.alistairshearer.co.uk) has worked and travelled throughout the Land of the Veda over many years. He has taught courses on Indian art and architecture for several prestigious institutions, such as the British Museum, The School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. He recently co-created an award-winning retreat hotel (www.neeleshwarhermitage.com) on the coast of Malabar, in the sage’s homeland Kerala.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published December 2017
Size: 229 x 152 mm