Mark Singleton on Yoga Body (#66)

About the Guest:

Mark Singleton gained his Ph.D in Divinity from the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively on the history of yoga, including the books Yoga in the Modern World, Contemporary Perspectives (ed., 2008); Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (2010); and Gurus of Modern Yoga (ed., 2014), as well as many book chapters and articles. Most recent is the book Roots of Yoga (2017, with James Mallinson), a unique compendium of yoga practice texts translated from Sanskrit and several other languages. He taught for six years at St John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico), and was a Senior Long-Term Research Scholar at the American Institute of Indian Studies, based in Jodhpur (Rajasthan, India). He was a consultant and catalogue author for the Smithsonian exhibition, Yoga the Art of Transformation‚ in 2013. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at SOAS, University of London, where he works on the European Research Council-funded Hatha Yoga Project (, which seeks to map the history of hatha yoga from its origins to modern times. He is also a practitioner of yoga and holds several teaching qualifications.

In this episode, we discussed:

  1. The premise and focus of Mark’s book Yoga Body
  2. The evolution of postural yoga
  3. The meaning of vernacular yoga
  4. How/why modern yoga can be defined as a ‘renaissance’ and how this term is problamatic
  5. How the terms ‘participant experiencer’ and ‘scholar practitioner’ differ in meaning
  6. How the concept of yoga can be described as constructionist vs essentialist, and how practitioners’ worldview can include both.
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