|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 319 ]
"One cannot learn yoga from books" has now become a fashionable mantra uttered in modern yoga circles. Funnily I hear this often from people who teach all manner of weird things that they are calling yoga -- stuff that the Yoga Rishis would probably have had a difficult time relating to their ancient science.
Many modern yogis neglect, sometimes altogether, the study of the ancient body of literature surrounding this very science which they profess to practice and teach. This is a grave oversight on the part of the modern yoga student and teacher alike.
It is definitely true that yoga cannot be learned through books alone, nor can one evolve their higher Self only through intellectualization. As the KATHA UPANISHAD states: "This [higher] Self is not attained by discussion, intelligence, or learning."
Unfortunately today, many speak from the opposite end of the spectrum -- from academic perspectives alone -- about a science which is fundamentally experiential in its nature. As a result, much which is lost in intellectual misinterpretation and faulty speculation continues to be passed on to students and readers alike in the growing modern body of yogic (and other spiritual) writings. One is always cautioned to heed the words of the ancient Chinese Chuang: "A dog is not reckoned good because it barks well, and a man is not reckoned wise because he speaks skilfully."
The study of the ancient literature of yoga alone is not the study of yoga, but is is an important part of it. Investigation of these ancient texts reveals an additional wealth that is all too obvious to the serious student.
If you investigate the literature surrounding yoga, you will soon come to see that the body of writings, both classical and modern, is vast.
It is primarily to the classical yoga books that I guide you in the following pages of this course, though the quantity of these resources is large. Here I'm offering you a broad overview of just a few of the main volumes with which every student of yoga should be at least generally familiar.
The depths of profoundness contained within many of these ancient texts necessitates a lifetime of study. This list and its summaries is meant only to help make you familiar with the primary body of ancient texts surrounding yoga and to stimulate your interest for further exploration. Many of you will no doubt find your way to other classical yoga books which I have not listed, which may also give you great insight and guidance...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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