Listen free for 30 days

  • The Science of Yoga

  • The Risks and Rewards
  • By: William J. Broad
  • Narrated by: Matthew Boston
  • Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £18.29

Buy Now for £18.29

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

In this remarkable book about yoga, William Broad, a lifelong practitioner, shows us that uncommon states are integral to a hidden world of risk and reward that lies beneath clouds of myth, superstition, and hype.

Five years in the making, The Science of Yoga draws on more than a century of painstaking research to present the first impartial evaluation of a practice thousands of years old. It celebrates what’s real and shows what’s illusory, describes what’s uplifting and beneficial and what’s flaky and dangerous—and why. Broad illuminates how yoga can lift moods and inspire creativity. He exposes moves that can cripple and kill. As science often does, this groundbreaking book also reveals mysteries. It presents a fascinating body of evidence that raises questions about whether humans have latent capabilities for entering states of suspended animation and unremitting sexual bliss.

The Science of Yoga takes us on a riveting tour of unknown yoga that goes from old archives in Calcutta to the world capitals of medical research, from storied ashrams to spotless laboratories, from sweaty yoga studios with master teachers to the cozy offices of yoga healers. Broad unveils a burgeoning global industry that attracts not only curious scientists but true believers and charismatic hustlers. In the end, he shatters myths, lays out unexpected benefits, and offers a compelling vision of how the ancient practice can be improved.

©2012 William J. Broad (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Science of Yoga

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    8
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    49
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing and biased

The author is frustratingly biased towards a modern yoga with little respect for its Indian roots. He paints an ugly picture of its heritage even stating that traditional Indian yogis were child snatchers and more akin to occultist charlatans than. He makes a mistake early on, after saying he was surprised to learn yoga had many confusing styles and forms, he claims he knew enough to focus on the source of it all, Hatha Yoga! What happened to karma yoga, yama and niyama? Obviously there is no science to be found there. Not a good read if you respect yogas history, more of a insight into the dogmatic fundamentals of a scientific mind who struggles to understand subtleties and has no faith in human wisdom acquired over generations.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not hugely interesting

Lots of information and history of yoga, some Intersting revelations. However most of the book seems to refer to how yoga "could" do this and that, and the future of yoga "could" be like this or it "could" be like that. The narrative is very monotonous too.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

If you are interested in yoga then this is a great book. Full of really interesting facts.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • c
  • 04-04-15

thorough and grounded

I enjoyed the overview of the history of yogas evolution and relationship with science. I found it helpful as a keen yoga practitioner. As a Nurse I found the information about risks interesting too.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

At last

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Would definitely recommend. I rarely write reviews but this book presents an understandable and interesting summary of research, folklore and history of yoga - beyond the evangelical or heavy approach of others. If you are looking for a clear account of the pros and cons of yoga and an informed view on history and traditions then this is it. Section on injury and teachers credentials really helpful and meant I finally found someone who can safely guide me in the traditions and eight arms of yoga.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Science of Yoga?

As above and easy to follow

What does Matthew Boston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Personable - understandable-authoritative.

Any additional comments?

Great book!!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Information

I loved this book. As someone who has not practised Yoga I thought I would listen to this as a way of making sure what i got myself into. Very useful in pointing out the benefits but also the dangers of Yoga before getting into the practice. I will now think twice and ask some important questions of any instructor before taking a class.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A technical study and reference work

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes. Lots of information about the history of the various styles with detailed background information.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Science of Yoga?

The shocking injuries. Who would have imagined yoga could cause strokes!

What aspect of Matthew Boston’s performance might you have changed?

His voice is a little bit of a monotone. I found my attention wandering sometimes.

Do you think The Science of Yoga needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Unless there are dramatic new findings it seems unlikely to need updating.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book as giving a very fair background to yoga. Lots of evidence based studies are quoted. Lots of myths are exposed. The dangers are explained and so are the benefits. It feels very honest.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good book

Really enjoyed this book, well researched and clearly written covering a wide range if yoga through the last 50 years will definitely recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Poor science writing, at times misogynistic

Gave up. Interesting story, terrible communication of science. Tantra chapter explicitly misogynistic: excuses rapists.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and open-minded exploration

As the subtitle tells the listener, this book explores the risks and rewards of yoga in great detail. The author spends the first half of the book exploding myths about yoga such as oxygen uptake in pranayama, but goes on to describe scientific studies into the profound psychological, physical, spiritual, creative and sexual benefits of yoga. It was truly fascinating and very well researched. His goal is to inform the listener to create better yoga.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bonnie
  • Bonnie
  • 24-01-17

Written with a clear agenda

I am all about science and fact, particularly when covering a health-related topic. In addition, I had really high hopes for this book, as Broad is a New York Times science writer; ultimately, I am all about objective reporting to further people's understanding of a particular topic.

That being said, I believe Broad had a particular agenda in mind: To "debunk" various myths about yoga, thus creating a bestseller. The thing is, I believe all of his facts are essentially proven, but the structure of this book is bizarre. To me, one of the most essential scientific facts about yoga is how it improves mental health; that being said, he seemed to really skim over that, instead using the book to shed light on the more "controversial" aspects of yoga, i.e., two-hour orgasms, sex scandals, and crazy white dudes monetizing the practice. I could be mistaken, but I believe that ultimately, people continue to study yoga for mental well being.

I never write reviews, but I really wanted to share this. I hope that people interested in yoga don't turn away from it after Broad (seemingly triumphantly) states that yoga doesn't make you lose weight; it actually slows down the metabolism. While objectively that may be true, yoga is so much more nuanced than that, and could ultimately help you get out of an unhealthy relationship with food. Plus, yoga is so much larger and more glorious than that.

Anyway, caveat emptor. Namaste, y'all.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Melissa
  • Melissa
  • 05-02-15

Not what I was expecting.

This book was basically a bunch of information that felt like it had an agenda, and that the agenda wasn't to outline the risks and rewards of yoga.

If you're looking to just learn more about Yoga in very broad and general ways, you might find the book interesting. I wanted to end the book with some sense of how I should best approach my own yoga practice (you know, the risks and rewards mentioned on the book cover). Instead, I was left sort of confused - feeling like I knew more about yoga, but didn't really know what to do with all of that information.

If you're looking for someone to say "do poses A, B and C for this ailment..." this book does not contain that information. In fact, sometimes the information in one chapter contradicts the information in another chapter. The cobra pose can injure you severely, but it can also enhance testosterone and create a state of bliss. OK, so should I do the cobra pose or avoid it? That was not clear, as the information was delivered, but the author never gave any kind of advice or helped lead the listener to any kind of conclusion. I expected this, and thus was disappointed in the book.

I also found the narrator a little bit robotic, which doesn't really work for me for this topic.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Juan Calixto
  • Juan Calixto
  • 12-04-15

Better yoga, safer yoga

This book highlights that yoga as all exercises and physicals activities involves some degree of risk and rewards, and points out the need to educate and practice a better, safer yoga, to decrease and prevent its risk, and for other side, optimize and multiply its rewards. As a yogi one of my favorites books.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ken DV
  • Ken DV
  • 17-02-17

Many anecdotes and stories

I would have appreciated more hard facts about yoga in general, not just stories and anecdotes.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew
  • Matthew
  • 07-01-15

First yoga book you should read.

I picked this book knowing nothing of yoga and though not a how to guide, I now know where to start and what to look for in a guide.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Karen
  • Karen
  • 05-03-13

Makes me think and act differently at yoga...

This book by an educated yoga practitioner helps to dispel some of the silly claims made by yoga teacher (toxins? really? what are they?) while sharing benefits and dangers so we can make informed choices.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rob
  • Rob
  • 23-03-16

great book

This book was required reading for the yoga teacher training course I'm currently inrolled in. I'm glad that it was. it gave a very balanced narrative of the history of yoga and its positives/negatives of how its tought and marketed. it definitely open my eyes on things I need to be aware of as I go into teaching others

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M4shore
  • M4shore
  • 20-04-15

Started strong, then went downhill

Chapters 1-3 are really good, shedding light on the history of yoga as well as scientific insight about the benefits.
The second half of the book is not nearly as good, as broad goes out on a limb time and time again - making claims without much scientific basis. The chapters on injury, healing, sexual drive and creativity all lack the substance shown in the first half of the book.
Still a good read to any interested to yogi and yogini.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jenn
  • Jenn
  • 20-04-19

Enlightening even for a scientific based writing

Very little new science but rather a compilation of previous research throughout the ages, this book describes the good, the bad, and the ugly of yoga. I am personally a long term practitioner and little in this book was surprising once considered, however, the slant and sentiment was engaging. I learned a great deal from the authors perspective and was relieved to find the him hopeful in conclusion but could have done with out the extended darkness that seemed to envelop the middle chapters of this book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for michelle
  • michelle
  • 30-11-16

Changing my yoga practice because of this book

I have been practicing yoga for 8 years and after completing this book I am modifying my practice. I have a new perspective on the benefits of yoga and I am going to create a more powerful practice for myself because of this book. Thank you!!

2 people found this helpful