It could be dangerous Yoga has produced waves of injuries, claims Broad. “Take strokes, which arise when clogged vessels divert blood from the brain. Doctors have found that certain poses can result in brain damage that turns practitioners into cripples with drooping eyelids and flailing limbs.”
There’s worse: “Darker still, some authorities warn of madness,” warns Broad. “As Carl Jung put it, advanced yoga can ‘let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.’ ”
But just when you start thinking that chocolate may work better than chaturanga in alleviating stress, Broad, who has practiced yoga since he was a freshman in college in 1970, begins enumerating benefits:
It calms the body and mind Being a vegetarian (which yoga advocates) reduces the level of testosterone in the body, but yoga appears to raise it, as well as lowering fight-or-flight (stress) hormones and improving circulation and inner flexibility. Yoga is a kinder version of alcohol, Broad suggests: “Both do at least part of their mental rejiggering by means of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid. The neurotransmitter slows the firing of neurons, making them less excitable and thus calming the mind.”
It could enhance your sex life The discipline that started out centuries ago as “a sex cult,” with rapacious vagabond yogis focused on “the path to the ecstatic union” and enlightenment known as Tantra, maintains its ability to calm and arouse at the same time.
“A small trove of illuminating reports and investigations,” Broad writes, show that yoga “can in fact result in surges of sex hormones and brainwaves, among other signs of sexual arousal.”
New medical scans, he reports, “indicate that advanced yogis can shut their eyes and light up their brains in states of ecstasy indistinguishable from those of sexual climax.” One yogini described it as the best sex she never had.
Fast breathing, the author observes, fans the flames, leading to “yogasm”, a word coined in the TV serial Sex and the City. Broad concludes, “The findings may also help introduce into the consumer society a number of practical methods for the treatment of sexual disorders and the revitalization of sex lives – hopefully reducing our dependence on costly pills and potions.” It could help creativity In the final chapter, Broad explores the intersection between yoga and creativity.
Artists who got rid of aches and gained inspiration from yoga include the violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, the rock star Sting, and Leopold Stokowski, the conductor best known for leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Disney film Fantasia.
Stokowski taught yoga to Greta Garbo during a fling in Italy, and Garbo began teaching headstands in Hollywood.
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