International Journal of Yoga

: 2011  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 102-

Review of 'Yoga in Modern Society' by Verena Schnäebele

NVC Swamy 
 Division of Yoga and Physical Sciences, S-VYASA Yoga University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
NVC Swamy
Division of Yoga and Physical Sciences, S-VYASA Yoga University, Bangalore, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Swamy N. Review of 'Yoga in Modern Society' by Verena Schnäebele.Int J Yoga 2011;4:102-102

How to cite this URL:
Swamy N. Review of 'Yoga in Modern Society' by Verena Schnäebele. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Jun 30 ];4:102-102
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Published by Verlag Dr. Kovač,

Hamburg; 2010,

Pages 298; Price € 88

Reviewed by Prof. Swamy NVC

Yoga, with its origins in India, has of late penetrated the West, and has achieved great popularity. Yoga has two facets, which are studied together in India - its philosophical basis and its practical use. However, in the West, the emphasis has been more on the practical aspect, namely, Asana, Pranayama, and so on. The eastern mind approaches Yoga as a means for God-realization, whereas, the western mind is more attracted to its therapeutic aspect.

This book, written by an author from the West, deals basically with the latter aspect, laying emphasis on the 'subjectivation' of Yoga. It emphasizes more on yogic experiences and their effects on the body or the Annamayakosha. It also mainly addresses a western audience, and is based on western experiences, as is evident from the references cited.

The book is in four parts, with a total of ten chapters. The first part, consisting of one chapter, is about the History of modern yoga practice. The author bases this chapter mainly on the viewpoint of western authors. There is a description of the traditional viewpoint, as reflected by the classical scriptures of India. Also, the author still emphasizes on the 'Aryan Invasion Theory' of Max Mueller, although a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. She distinguishes modern Yoga from the traditional one by calling the former 'Modern Postural Yoga'. This name itself indicates that the book is about the physical exercises.

Yoga was introduced into the West about a century ago by Swami Vivekananda. Although the Swamiji emphasized its spiritual aspects more than its physical aspects, he was followed by several other yoga teachers, who popularized the latter, since it was more easily understood by the western mind, on account of the cultural divide. Today, in many western countries, Yoga has come to mean only Asana.

The second part is the main core of the book. Its three chapters deal with the way Yoga is being approached and taught in the western world. This chapter gives an insight into the reasons why Yoga is gaining popularity in the West, and why so many western practitioners are visiting India regularly. The organizational structure is also typically western, with the central registration of the practitioners, the formation of societies like the 'International Association of Yoga Therapists,' and so on. This part contains a lot of information, which otherwise would not be available to the average Indian practitioners. It is worth a detailed study.

The third part, chapter six, contains details about reviews conducted by the author to ascertain from the practitioners, their experiences. Chapters seven to nine present the results of the analysis of these interviews. These have been extensively covered and present a new type of study, which deserve a deeper presentation and study. It should be of interest to students of Indian Psychology. The book closes with a short chapter about the influence of this type of practice on one's own personality and lifestyle. The last part provides a list of references and a glossary of technical terms.

This book, although meant for a western reader, should be of interest to an Indian reader also. The author should be complimented for providing so much of valuable information, within the covers of a small book.