stefanie syman


V.19 No.30 | 7/29/2010

Feature

Om My Guru

Two authors trace the roots of yoga in the West

It “turned husbands into adulterers, it turned scholars into swindlers, it turned women into lunatics or shut-ins,” writes author Stefanie Syman. It sounds dangerous. It sounds exciting. It certainly doesn’t sound like something you can do at home on your Wii.

That thing is yoga, and Syman’s new book, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, traces its path from esoteric to exercise.

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Sarah Syman, author of   The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America

Feature

American Posers: The Yoga Interviews

The Alibi’s Patricia Sauthoff speaks with authors Stephanie Syman and Mark Singelton about the cultural history of yoga in America

Yoga-junkies, wrap your mind around asanas and more with the Alibi’s interviews with authors Stefanie Syman and Mark Singleton. We spoke with Syman over the phone during the first leg of her book tour and sat down with Singleton at Santa Fe’s Body Café (which explains the clinking in the background). Both interviews have been edited slightly for time and to take out the bits where we wandered off topic. Now, pardon us, all this yoga research reminds us we’ve got a pose to perfect…

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V.19 No.29 | 7/22/2010

Culture

Is Yoga American?

Today there is no longer an argument. Yoga is a cultural force and a booming industry. But is it American? Stefanie Syman, author of the compelling and exhaustive cultural history of yoga in America, The Subtle Body: The Story Of Yoga In America, says yes. She’ll be in New Mexico on Friday, July 30 (details below) to make the case and field questions. Until that times, here’s a few teasers from the depths of yoga-Americana—

• Ralph Waldo Emerson was a fan of yoga and wrote a poem called “Brahma” in the first issue of the Atlantic Monthly, but he didn't practice.

Elvis did yoga (and sang about it) in a movie.

• In 1948, Life featured a photo essay of Marilyn Monroe doing yoga poses.

• President Woodrow Wilson's daughter Margaret became so captivated with yoga that she moved to India and spent the rest of her life on an ashram.

• And let’s not forget the 60’s electric fascination with yoga & sitar. Media darlings like the Beatles, Mia Farrow, Timothy Leary, and Ram Dass helped to popularize the discipline.

• Nowadays, the Obamas feature yoga on the White House lawn.

Syman will be joined by Mark Singelton from St. John's College in Santa Fe, whose book Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice traces how postures, traditionally a relatively obscure aspect of yoga, came to define it.

Spiros Antonopoulos (Ashtanga Yoga Albuquerque | Souljerky) will be your host and guide down these rivers of yogic adventure. Local yoga teacher and entrepreneur Meta Hirschl (Yoga Now), author of Vital Yoga: A Sourcebook for Students and Teachers is scheduled to give a brief introduction.

You can hear Stefanie Syman on NPR (To the Best of Our Knowledge, On Point), or on Expanding Mind (with Erik Davis). And you can read her latest post on the Wall Street Journal's blog (about Tantra, Sting, & Lady Gaga).