The Yoga Manifesto

Brian Dana Akers • 60 pages • 4 x 6

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Yoga’s glorious past, astonishing present—and breathtaking future.

The Yoga Manifesto answers two questions: Why Yoga? Why now?

It summarizes the very long and remarkable history of Yoga from its Indian origins to its global present, its entanglement with money, where it fits in the constellation of religions, its dialectic with science, its place in today’s society, and the bright future of Yoga.

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ISBN 9780989996693
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Table of Contents

Yoga and History
Yoga and Money
Yoga and Religion
Yoga and Science
Yoga and Society
Yoga and the Future


A fundamental attribute of Yoga is that it is FREE. Once you know how to do it, you don’t need fancy clothing (anything comfortable will do), special mats (I use a carpet remnant), an awesome room (even florescent lights and linoleum floors will serve), intricate contraptions or props, a vast library, the world’s most famous teacher, or an exotic locale. Any small flat space will do. You can do it indoors or outdoors. You can do it clothed or nude. (Probably best if not outdoors and nude.) Yoga is FREE.

But since we all live in the highly monetized economies of the twenty-first century, it would be prudent to go through some of the ways to not lose money from Yoga, to make a small amount of money, to make a lot of money, and to make a stupendous amount of money.


This manifesto is for the whole world, so there are no footnotes or endnotes to slow readers down. And it’s very short, so no index. Here are a few personal notes to fill things out a bit.

My original intention was to write a rather conventional history of Yoga, but the more I got into it, the more I became interested in the current day and the future, presented in a lively way. Huge thanks go to Tom Trautmann, who sent me six single-spaced typed pages of comments. He substantially improved this book and is definitely not responsible for its remaining shortcomings.

Yoga and History
This was the hardest chapter to write. How does one sum up 25 centuries in a dozen pages in a useful way? I did my best. If you are not familiar with Indian history, you may want to keep Wikipedia handy.

I relied most heavily on Samuel’s The Origins of Yoga And Tantra and scores of articles various scholars generously posted to

I had been thinking of how best to construe the compound Hatha Yoga since my college days. Will be interesting to see how the scholarly Yoga community reacts. I originally intended to title the book The Yoga of the Force, but as its scope expanded beyond Hatha Yoga, I changed it to The Yoga Manifesto.

For more on the militarization of yogis, consult Pinch’s Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires. It’s wild and wooly and really quite wonderful. Incidentally, these yogi armies are not extinct, just dormant. James Mallinson, who translated two texts for us, holds the rank of commander in one of them.

Philip Deslippe is doing fresh research on Yoga in pre-WWII America.

Yoga and Money
This was the easiest chapter to write; I knocked it out in one afternoon. Publishing is a cultural industry, so I balance culture and commerce every day. Leonard’s Kochland is a great read. Charles Koch comes across as a wholesome Bond villain.

Yoga and Religion
I hadn’t intended to declare that Yoga is not a religion, but I took to heart Staal’s Exploring Mysticism and decided it does not have an organized superstructure like a religion. Nor was I intending to come down so hard on gurus, but let’s be honest: Their track record is pretty spotty. The observation that Yoga can be sexually stimulating comes from Broad’s The Science of Yoga.

Yoga and Science
In the course of researching this book, I read all of Geertz’s later, smaller books. One of his essays was about Thomas Kuhn. I realized that his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions had been sitting in my library for a couple of decades. Time to read it! It turned out to be key for this chapter.

Yoga and Society
This is the chapter that contains the answers to the two questions I posed at the beginning of the book. Inglehart’s Cultural Evolution (and Religion’s Sudden Decline) were essential to my arguments.

Yoga and the Future
Time to put on my science-fiction hat. From unlimited upside to precipitous downside. Who knows? The idea of bringing something primordial with us out into the solar system struck me as something Arthur C. Clarke would write.

I had a blast writing this book. Thanks should also be extended to the music of the Bangles, this place’s lunch special, and the parking lots of Kingston, New York, where I did a lot of reading while my wife was receiving medical care.

About the Author

Brian Dana Akers began practicing Yoga at age twelve, learning Sanskrit at seventeen, and working in publishing at twenty-three. You can find out more about him at