New book to chronicle history of Yoga

New Delhi, Jan 22 (PTI) From the caves and forests of ancient India to the gyms, studios and village halls of the modern West, a new book unravels how the practice of Yoga reached its present-day ubiquity.

Touted to be the 'first definitive history' of Yoga, 'The Story of Yoga: From India to the Contemporary World' has been written by Scottish cultural historian Alistair Shearer, and will hit the stands later this month, announced publishing house Penguin Random House.

'This is not a 'how to' book -- there are already more than enough of those -- but a 'how come?' one. How come a time-honoured road to enlightenment has turned into a $25 billion-a-year wellness industry? What have the original teachings of the sages lost, or perhaps gained, while being transplanted onto foreign soil? '...This book is in part an attempt to define what this thing we call 'yoga' really is,' writes the author in its introduction.

According to the book, in the US alone, where in the closing decades of the 20th century only a few hundred thousand were engaging in some form of yoga, the number rose to about '4 million' in 2001, and then to over '37 million' by 2016.

'That was twice as many as five years before, and the upward trend continues. According to surveys conducted by 'Yoga Journal', another 80 million are 'very interested' in beginning some sort of practice,' it said.

Divided into two parts, 'Today' and 'Yesterday', the book has nine chapters, including 'The Age of Invasions', 'Female Fitness' and 'Yoga Goes West'.

It has been endorsed by the likes of Philip Goldberg, author of 'American Veda and The Life of Yogananda', John Zubrzycki, author of 'Empire of Enchantment: The Story of Indian Magic' and author-politician Shashi Tharoor.

''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,' reads a blurb by Tharoor. PTI MG TRS TRS