Devoted much of the evening to devouring William J. Broad’s soon-to-be-released book, The Science of Yoga. Not many candle-burning, page-turning yoga books out there, but this is definitely one of them. Tough book to put down.
There’s something uniquely special about a science-focused yoga book that doesn’t induce immediate bouts of involuntary savasana. Needless to say, I’m entertained and enjoying the book.
Perhaps less exciting than some of the more hyped-up claims in the book, in the chronology section Broad introduces his readers to an Indian scientific text most yogis have probably never heard of: A Treatise on the Yoga Philosophy by N.C. Paul.
1851: N.C. Paul authors A Treatise on the Yoga Philosophy, considered the first scientific study of yoga. It seeks to explain how yogis maintain what the Indian doctor calls states of ‘human hibernation’ and looks to yoga breathing for clues to metabolic slowdowns (xxvi).
As you’ll see when reading The Science of Yoga, the treatise plays quite an inspirational role in Broad’s search for early scraps of scientific research on yoga. In his quest for early scientific yoga literature, Broad states:
The limitations of the current literature sent me casting a wide net, and I immediately made a big catch. It was a very old book–A Treatise on the Yoga Philosophy–written by a young Indian doctor and published in 1851 in Benares (now known as Varanasi), the ancient city on the Ganges that marks the spiritual heart of Hinduism. It came to my attention because a few Western scholars had referred to it in passing.
I got lucky and found that Google Books had recently scanned Harvard’s copy into its electronic archive, so I was able to download the whole thing in a flash. Its language was archaic. But the author had addressed the science of yoga with great skill, illuminating an important aspect of respiratory physiology that many authorities still get wrong today.
Well, of course I couldn’t help but go and find the book for myself and share it here on Daily Cup of Yoga. Click here or on the image below to download and read the treatise for yourself. The only question I have now is why Broad didn’t name his book The Science of THE Yoga…