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Yoga Beyond Belief Reviewed in L.A. Yoga

January 23rd, 2011

The following review was written by Dr. Lorin Roche and was published in the December issue of L.A. Yoga:

Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice by Ganga White.

This book comes with an introduction by Sting, who writes, “This book offers a flexible perspective,” which is definitely something you want in a book on Yoga. Ganga has amazing credentials; he is the only person I know who began studying Yoga with a Zoroastrian high priest, and has been teaching Yoga since 1967, when he opened the original Center for Yoga on Sunset Boulevard in LA.

There was Ganga, teaching right in the heart of the city in the late 1960s and beyond, and does he have stories to tell! Instead of name-dropping, I’ll let you imagine all the great characters he met and the teachers with whom he studied. Let’s just say, if you like reading People magazine while standing in line at the supermarket, that celebrity curious part of your brain will find maha-ananda, much joy. Ganga’s foundation hosted many Yoga teachers on their first visits to Los Angeles, including BKS Iyengar in 1976. That other part of your brain, the one that engages in viveka (discernment), will have a good sweaty class, for Ganga takes on the big dharma issues of our time, such as, “What right do we, as Westerners, to Americanize Yoga? Are we degenerating the purity and authenticity of the teachings? And is there any way to know what was taught and practiced in the past?” Ganga has been in this conversation for longer than most of us have been alive or have heard of Yoga and it’s fascinating to read how his inquiry has progressed.

In the late 1960s, he mentioned in a class one day that he considered Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to be the foundation of Hatha Yoga. A few days later, a Swami called Ganga and angrily informed him that Patanjali was not at all an advocate of physical Yoga – Patanjali’s mention of asana and pranayama (posture and breathing) only referred to sitting quietly and stilling the breath for meditation; spending time and energy to cultivate the body leads to attachment, body consciousness and will detract one from the true spiritual path. Whew. Order the book from www.whitelotus.org/books_dvds.html and Ganga will sign it and mail it.

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