Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yoga / Ernest Wood -- Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1967

Not long after the Penguin Book series became successful, Penguin put out a series under the imprint "Pelican Originals" which offered the reading public new works on topics intended to educate. Ernest Wood's book Yoga is in this series. Wood moved to India after completing firsts in Physics, Chemistry, and Geology from Manchester College of Technology. In India, he had a stellar career in higher education administration, while studying Yoga and Vedanta philosophies in Sanskrit. Consequently, his book Yoga presents the practice from a the point of view of a sympathetic well-educated Englishman with much experience in India.

Wood explains the the point of Yoga is self-improvement and self-realization. Beginning with the intellectual aspects of Yoga, Wood describes the importance of concentration, meditation, and contemplation -- three stages of yogic enlightenment. His accounts here have much in common with and indeed rely upon Buddhist concepts.

Following this, Wood turns to the physical aspects of Yoga, more well known around the world. Importantly, Wood asserts that there is an interrelationship between mind and body which allows mental well-being to foster physical well-being and vice versa. Throughout, there is nothing mystical or mysterious about the essentials of his account, though he sometimes seems to give accounts of the fabulous powers of advanced Yogis.

Wood provides chapters on the use of sounds and images (mantras and yantras) to have beneficial effects on one's practice along with a chapter describing the Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita; however, the main influence in his work is Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Overall, Wood's Yoga is an excellent introduction to the practice and begs the reader both to take it up and to seek out Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras for further understanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment