I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ranju Roy and Dave Charlton, who have written a book about practical engagement with yoga philosophy (which I recommend). Their approach to the Yoga Sutra is a refreshing combination of accessible and scholarly, as we discuss on their podcast. Although the text has the ultimate aim of renouncing the world, they show how its underlying psychology can also be applied in daily life - improving our relationships with each other and ourselves.
Becoming calmer and less caught up in habitual patterns sounds like A Good Thing. However, modern promotion of secular mindfulness comes with a shadow side. This is explored in McMindfulness by Ron Purser, a professor of management in San Francisco, and a long-time Buddhist practitioner. The book expands on his scholarly work on the mindfulness industry, criticising how it’s coopted by corporate forces. To explore what he means, I interviewed Ron at Watkins Books.
It was an honour to be part of this discussion with two of the foremost scholars on yoga, James Mallinson and Mark Singleton, reflecting on the work behind their book Roots of Yoga, which was recently published. The conversation took place in the members' room at the New York Society Library, and was filmed. An audio recording is available for download.
I make a few huffing-and-puffing contributions to this week's Something Understood, discussing yoga and demonstrating pranayama breathing. The programme, entitled "Breath, You Invisible Poem", was broadcast this morning on Radio 4. It features readings from Rilke, Haruki Murakami and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among others. There's also music from Maria Callas and Nick Cave, plus a haka by New Zealand's All Blacks - and Sanskrit read by me.