Richard Rosen’s book YOGA FAQ: Almost Everything You Need to Know About Yoga – from Asana to Yama is a portal. Through Rosen’s modern lens we traverse the history and evolution of yoga from its ancient spiritual practice to its contemporary incarnation primarily as asana. Mister Rosen is a much better Sanskritist then he realizes and his sense of wonder – as well as his realism/skepticism – is refreshing, compelling, and infectious.
This is the ideal book for all 200-hour yoga teacher training students and it will inspire them to go down sundry rabbit holes to discover for themselves how yoga can help them tame their egos and/or “merge with the godhead,” as Eliade put it.
Before YOGA FAQ, one of the the best bridges to cross the schism between academic and popular yoga was Mark Singleton’s Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, but now Richard Rosen has offered the perfect text to accompany all students who want to understand what yoga is and what yoga isn’t.
YOGA FAQ carefully weighs the essential texts and compares them with how yoga has evolved in America since Vivekananda spoke at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893—through Krishnamacharya down through the Iyengar lineage and Rosen’s own practice in the 1980s, which culminated in founding a yoga studio with Rodney Yee in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Much of the book is devoted to answering the typical questions of yoga students; however, I greatly appreciated the research that Rosen did and more specifically his point of view. Rosen exercises healthy amounts of doubt, sarcasm, and humor to help readers sink their teeth into topics such as Vedanta, the yamas and niyamas (ethical precepts and restrictions), the subtle body versus the gross body, mudras, bandhas, how pranayama relates to yoga, and then the evolution of asanas.
YOGA FAQ is an essential text for curious yoga students – particularly those who partaking in yoga teacher training programs or a lifetime of ongoing study – who yearn for a more comprehensive understanding of the history and evolution of yoga.