Kickstarting the Roots of Yoga

Yoga scholars Mark Singleton and James Mallinson have taken
their dream—publishing a single comprehensive resource of yogic literature—to
the next level by bringing it to Kickstarter,
the web-based company that facilitates funding for independent creative
projects. They’ve asked for $50,000 to fund The
Roots of Yoga,
and with the clock ticking down toward their August 10th
deadline, they’ve raised nearly half that amount. A growing list of yoga
luminaries is rallying behind them: Georg Feuerstein, Richard Rosen, Judith
Lasater, Elena Brower, Kino McGregor, Danny Paradise, and Frank Jude Boccio.

What makes The
Roots of Yoga
so extraordinary?

First of all, Singleton and Mallinson will bring serious
scholarship to the topic of yoga—welcome any time, but especially now when the
popular press is spotlighting events like John
Friend’s fall
from grace or Bikram
Choudhury’s lawsuits
. Mark Singleton earned a Ph.D. in South Asian Religion
from Cambridge University. He has written and edited several books, including Yoga
Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice
. He is also a longtime hatha yoga practitioner. James Mallinson
is a linguist and ethnographer who’s spent more than 10 years traveling and
studying in India. An Oxford Ph.D., he has published many scholarly works and
also translated two of the Yoga
Samhitas
for a general audience.

Second, the book will feature all-original translations,
including many works that have never been translated before. The
Roots of Yoga
has the potential to become a companion book, one that offers
fresh understandings over a lifetime of practice.

Perhaps most exciting of all, Singleton and Mallinson
promise that the book will be written not just for other scholars but also with
teachers and practitioners in mind. “Roots
of Yoga
is the book I wish I’d had available to me when I started my
investigations into yoga,” says Singleton.

It’s also extraordinary (or maybe just plain cool) that this
project has made its way to Kickstarter,
which uses the power of social networking to support creative, independent
ideas. This is a revolutionary way of doing business, bypassing traditional
gatekeepers and allowing the community to get behind projects or products they
believe in. Kickstarter
projects require clear goals and a time limit—if pledged amounts don’t add up
by a certain date, the project isn’t funded. (While that may sound harsh, it’s
actually less
risk
for everyone involved.)

Several creative yogis have asked for Kickstarter funding
for projects from exotically designed yoga mats to a yoga bus for spreading
good vibes across the country. Almost half of all Kickstarter projects get
funded. Why do people contribute? In many cases, a donation gets you something
of equal or even greater value in return: a
cool yoga poster
or a
handwritten poem.
Backers of The
Roots of Yoga
project can get a signed first edition … and even (for
$10,000) a trip to the Kumbha Mela.

Or how about the simple knowledge that you’ve supported
something of value for the yoga community? In other words, how about generating
some positive karma? Priceless!

What have you heard about the Roots of Yoga project? Would you support a project like this through Kickstarter?

Comments 1

  1. I cannot help thinking that it is a bit funny that we are so eager to get to know yoga through artefacts. We crave the written material produced by who know who in a distant past, in a distant culture and in a distant reality. Now the old relics will be translated and interpreted from outside of its original context, by modern academic schoolars, with a western mindset from the other side of the globe.

    If this book can help to deconstruct some of our self created western ideas about yoga, I am all for it. But I believe that going to the Kumbh Mela is a much better way to get close to the roots of this tradition. After all this is actually getting in to the tradition rather than looking at it from the outside. However the the guy that wins the ticket should be warned. The Kumbh Mela is shocking. You might have to rethink everything you thought you knew about yoga.

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