The Story of Yoga

From Ancient India to the Modern West

Alistair Shearer

The astounding story of how a venerable Indian practice became a truly global phenomenon.

Bibliographic Details
The Story of Yoga Hardback
October 2019£25.00
9781787381926 384pp
Request Press Review Copy
Request Inspection Copy

How did an ancient Indian spiritual discipline turn into a £20 billion-a-year mainstay of the global wellness industry? What happened along yoga’s winding path from the caves and forests of the sages to the gyms, hospitals and village halls of the modern West?

This comprehensive history sets yoga in its global cultural context for the first time. It leads us on a fascinating journey across the world, from arcane religious rituals and medieval body-magic, through muscular Christianity and the British Raj, to the Indian nationalist movement and the arrival of yoga in the twentieth-century West. We discover how the practice reached its present-day ubiquity and how it became embedded in powerful social currents shaping the world’s future, such as feminism, digital media, celebrity culture, the stress pandemic and the quest for an authentic identity in the face of unprecedented change.

Shearer’s revealing history boasts a colourful cast of characters past and present, who tell an engaging tale of scholars and scandal, science and spirit, wisdom and waywardness. This is the untold story of yoga, warts and all.


Alistair Shearer is a cultural historian specialising in the art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent, a former lecturer at SOAS University of London, and a teacher of meditation and the psychology of yoga. He has translated the Yoga Sutras and co-created an award winning retreat hotel in Kerala (