giveaway! yoga phd by carol horton

PrintCarol Horton is a familiar name in the yoga blogosphere. She is also one of the strongest voices in the North American yoga community, offering a balanced, thoughtful, opinionated and informed perspective on all things yoga. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Carol on 21st Century Yoga, and her work has influenced and inspired IAYB in countless ways.

Her new book, Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body, is a synthesis of her research, writing and personal experience. It’s also essential reading for anyone who has thought about the complexities of modern yoga and wondered what they have to do with their yoga practice.

I have three copies of Yoga Ph.D. to give away to lucky readers. To enter, simply answer the following question in the comment section below*: What is yoga to you? Leave your comment by 5pm EST, Tuesday, January 15. The three winners will be drawn at random.

This is the official description of Yoga Ph.D:

Yoga Ph.D. explores contemporary yoga from the unique perspective of a political science professor-turned-yoga teacher. Like most Americans, Carol Horton started studying yoga in search of nothing more than stretching and stress relief. Over time, however, yoga revealed itself to be a powerful yet subtle tool for exploring her body, mind, and the connections between them in ways she’d never previously imagined possible. This caused her to wonder: What is yoga, really? Where did it come from? Why has it become so popular? And what does it offer us, as individuals and a society?

In Yoga Ph.D., Carol integrates her diverse experiences as yoga practitioner and social scientist to provide provocative answers to these questions. Contemporary yoga, she notes, is a paradoxically multidimensional practice, pursued for everything from physical fitness to spiritual transformation – simultaneously commercial and mystical, recreational and therapeutic, scientific and esoteric. To make sense of such incongruities, Carol synthesizes personal reflections on her own practice with a research-based analysis of yoga as a sociocultural phenomenon. The result is a book that breaks new ground by offering a sympathetic yet critical analysis of the promise and pitfalls of American yoga.

* The email addresses of all entrants will be added to the IAYB weekly newsletter list. If you don’t want your email address added to the list, simply write “OPT OUT” at the end of your comment.

  1. A question I can answer in so many ways! But to put it simply: yoga keeps me sane. As a yoga teacher myself, I fell into a cycle where I taught classes but didn’t take the time to continue my own physical practice. Once I rediscovered the beauty of bringing myself back to my own mat, something clicked inside and I thought to myself “Oh, there’s that oh so wonderfully familiar feeling.” In with the groundedness, out with the cuckooness. It’s a practice that keeps my leveled and happy.

  2. Yoga has changed my life in so many ways but it’s impact on helping my shine a light on the darker parts of myself (my eating disorder in particular) and truly HEAL has been amazing. I don’t know where I would be without yoga but I know it would not be the beautiful, healthy place I am today.

  3. I agree with what the girls have said so far- “keeps me sane” and “it has changed my life”. To add- it’s also a really great way to meet like-minded people. Studying yoga has made me a more spiritual person and in turn resulted in a lot of self reflection. Whenever I’m going thru a difficult time I turn to my mat! Yoga has made me a more confident person both inside and out. Most importantly yoga ignites my passion for life. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. I don’t think I can articulate what yoga is for me. It’s that place of time lost in flow, of not knowing where my body ends and the mat begins during Savasana, of being one with my breath. As for what yoga does for me–it’s helped me make friends with my body and control my mind. Even when I have to drag myself to the mat, I never regret it.

  5. Yoga is feeling great after an accomplishment, large or small. Yoga is good food – and laughter and love shared with the meal. Yoga is taking time out of the crazy day to write a thank you note, or a love note. Yoga is receiving that note and passing on the smile. For me, yoga is so much more than moving my body in various asanas – I can do yoga while riding my bike, or taking a walk, or drinking tea with my partner and dogs. The practice of yoga in the studio has transformed and permeated throughout the rest of daily life.

  6. Yoga is space. Space to linger in love, space to breathe and act from a place of love rather than reacting in fear. Yoga is a way of being–seeing god in all people, things, experiences. Yoga is dissolving the separation between us.
    Cannot wait to read this book!

  7. Yoga to me is calm, exploration (mind, body, feelings, possibilities) and stillness. (And a bit of sweat!)

  8. Yoga brings me to the heart of who I truly am. In my yoga practice, I learn to meet myself where I am, surrender to the Divine within, and stretch into what is possible. I continue to grow as the student and as the teacher, and I am ever so grateful for this and for the community of yogis.

  9. Nice dialogue! Love it. My answer is:

    Yoga means never having to say I’m sorry- because I’m living the most authentic and loving way I can. Yoga is the way I live my life and the way I enter the world, and it means seeing the perfect within perceived imperfections. Yoga is living an intentional life while remembering not to take anything too seriously (because…snore…). It’s being gentle with myself when I falter from the precepts of the yamas and niyamas- because I’m human, after all…

  10. For me, yoga is exploring and discovering my body and the world around me. It’s looking at things through a clear lens, it’s making room for change and letting things and ideas come in and out. And mostly, it lets me breathe.

  11. Yoga to me is Middle Path – yoga is soft; yoga is challenging … if I meet myself where I am there is infinite room to expand and explore … if I strain beyond my limits (and continue straining, and don’t back off) I have painted myself (or in some cases an external teacher has painted me) into a corner (I feel cornered) … if I stop far enough below my limits, I am becalmed … and have room to contemplate …

    But I have to be touching my limits, most of the time …

    This is how change comes about, from the inside out …

  12. Yoga is a pragmatic psycho-spiritual “technology” of the self with roots originating in the ancient civilizations of South Asia; now found in various modern forms transnationally the world over. It is at once, both the means and the goal, of actualizing the supreme reality or nature of the self.

  13. Yoga helps me to practice relationship – relationship between my body and mind, with the breathe, with the pose, and with the present moment.

  14. Yoga is my mini vacation from the every day.

  15. This is a really cool idea to give the book away and to get people to answer that question. Ive been thinking for about 10 minutes now typing and deleting. I don’t think I can answer this question actually. I don’t really know what it is to me. I think its freedom from the pain of inactivity and also freedom from the addiction of constantly thinking all the time. Freedom from the voice that says “give up” I kill that part of myself with yoga, i quiet my mind,

  16. Yoga is moving my body to keep it healthy and to keep my mind fixed on just one thing.

  17. It’s an opportunity in a busy life to disconnect from outside distractions and plug in to what really matters!

  18. Yoga is therapy for me, both physical and mental. It allows me to more mindfully influence my body and mind, shaping them in ways that I find productive. On the purely physical level, it has healed old injuries, created new strength, and fostered ease of movement. On the mental level, it has allowed me to observe and break out of old and negative patterns of thought and observe the world around me before reacting to it. But at the same time, modern yoga is fraught – the commercialization of the practice, the homogenous images – are all profoundly distasteful to me, and are at odds with my practice and my values. It almost makes me not want to tell people that I have a practice.

  19. Yay!
    I could say a lot of flowery things about what yoga means, but essentially, it all boils down to connection for me. With my self and my surroundings.

  20. Yoga is where everything stills to a point of quiet reflection and inner awareness.

  21. My yoga mat is a place I can come home to, no matter what city or what country I am in. It allows me to “tune in” to the nuances of my life, to reconnect with my spirit, to direct my intentions and re-calibrate my life’s purpose. It is my guiding light on the darkest of days and has “changed my life” in so many positive ways. For yoga I am always grateful, it has gotten me through illness, death and divorce and filled my spirit with passion and purpose. I am truly blessed …thank you yoga !!

  22. I already have my copy, but I just want to comment that Yoga PhD is a very thoughtful book and an excellent adjunct to 21st Century Yoga.

  23. Of course there’s no simple answer and it’s a very relative question.
    Yoga gives me the skills and tools to live my life with a healthy perspective and intention.

  24. Yoga is strength. It shows me the things my body can do.

  25. More than anything yoga grounds me, and helps me to hold space for all of life’s complexities.

  26. Yoga leads you by the breath, riding the musculoskeletal system through the junctions of nerve pathways to discover exactly how the spirit traverses this territory of physical existence. By slowing distractions and truly being present in the body/breath, we can disentangle the supreme intelligence that has climbed down into the physical form of the many from the one. It is not meant to be rehab, although it can be, it is not meant to be an exercise class, although it can be, but it is the chariot which will take u into the infinite now.

  27. Yoga’s what I argue about on the internet, obviously. But I already have a copy (review should be up on Elephant Journal in a couple days). Got any Yoga PhD schwag I can win? Maybe a coffee mug or yoga shoes?

  28. Yoga restored my health in a vast number of ways after a damaging adolescence and early twenties reality check with a thick fog of depression. When I began studying the practice, I was able to cut through the many protective layers of emotion and rewire various systems to nestle up to my true self and truly begin to live my life in an authentic way. Sixteen years later, yoga is an integral part of my life. It is as important as dental floss and water.

  29. Yoga is how I help myself, and others.

  30. Yoga is my rock–what I use to ground myself during the week. When I don’t practice, I can tell.

  31. I discovered meditation at 8 without realizing I was meditating, and started reading philosophy at 9, and later was introduced to yoga at 19. I had already had an interesting journey (born with muscular dystrophy, went from a wheelchair to crutches)… when I was introduced to yoga (I was largely still on crutches at that point), it felt like I had come home. Granted, yoga would not have been enough to get me from a wheelchair to crutches with a genetic neuromuscular disease (weightlifting was truly needed to build a lot of muscles, and Pilates for the core muscles to be able to transition from sitting to standing), but yoga has given me deeper awareness of my body and the machinations of my mind, improved coordination and balance (well, still working on the latter), added to my strength, and helped me feel happy, healthy and whole. I am now 45, have made yoga a regular part of my life, and count myself lucky to be able to teach it even with a disability.

  32. Yoga is the process and the practice through which I’m endeavoring to find and express my most authentic self. Easily said, much less easily done!

  33. Yoga is freedom!

  34. Yoga is mindfulness, flow and serenity–softness, health and harmony!

  35. To me, yoga is free, bold, courageous self-expression and love. As a yoga teacher, we continually say that yoga means union or to yoke and bring together. Yes, yoga brings us together with who we truly are…which is part of the universe and the collective spirit. Yoga draws us closer to the truth. To kindness. To peace. To love. Yoga is love. Thanks for the contest 🙂

  36. Yoga is making effort to move into and out of its postures while observing and trying to love the Self’s reactions to the movements, to the others in the room and to the greater world. To bring all of these efforts together is extremely difficult. Judgement is such an active part of yoga and a very hard part to love and forgive. Resistance is such an active part. Yoga is a small mat in a quiet room where I make focused effort to accept what it means to be human.

  37. Yoga is the empiricism of body, of the breath, of the mind. They aren’t separate; we learn that quickly, and learn also that spirit isn’t another plane, but intimately connected from the ground up. Teaching is a gift for the teacher. Practice brings us home to the experiment.

  38. Awareness.

  39. Yoga is everything. It is coming back to the present moment, the only place life truly exists. It is living in the breath, practicing mindlefulness, and bringing intention to every action. It is never ending gratitude, acceptance, patience, and courage. Yoga is seeing the divine in all things, and most importantly, in yourself.

  40. yoga is a lesson in life. it reminds me to have patience, to look at progress in the long term, to take a step back, to deal with things that are uncomfortable and to breathe.

  41. For me, yoga is a practice that helps me get to know myself and find stillness. It is about balance, wholeness, calm, quiet and connection.


  42. to me yoga is improving awareness by directing it, to remove bias and expose what is real

  43. Yoga is a practice of awareness. It is peace. It is connection to self and others.

  44. Yoga is both an experience and a system of practices, or technologies, designed to produce that experience: the experience of wholeness. Of coinciding with myself. Of being. And of vibrancy. Thanks for all you write… love your site!

  45. Yoga is my way of honoring my body and soul. I burn out past emotions, toxins and blocks through asana and pranayama practices while making room for deep transformation and connection.

  46. It is a mini-vacation away from the everyday.

  47. Yoga is Self is Other.

  48. thanks, everyone, for entering! the contest is now closed and the names have been drawn.

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