Yoga – The Greater Tradition by David Frawley

Book Review by Marcus J Freed, and


There are many introductory books to yoga that are available on the market, but David Frawley’s new book stands out. Yoga – The Greater Tradition is a deceptively slim volume. The author has packed in an amazing resource of information, re-translating and re-imagining many traditional concepts at the foundation of yogic philosophy.
After many years of reading and studying works such as the Yoga Sutras, I thought I had seen all of the available translations. I was wrong. Frawley begins by commenting on the overall idea of yoga;

“Traditionally, yoga aims towards self-realisation, a term and most of us can relate to. We will want to realise our higher potential, to be all that we can in life. Terms such as self-in empowerment , self-esteem, and self-promotion abound in today’s popular literature. However, yoga is not concerned with the realisation of our human ego or outer self, our personal talents, desires, or ambitions…[rather] the higher consciousness within us that is linked to the universe as a whole” (p17)
One of the biggest discussions about yoga seems to be whether it is a religion. Frawley brings an interesting perspective to this great discussion, suggesting that we can find very little in the religions of the world that are not present in yoga. Yoga is a universal practice that touches the essence of reality be in a working of the universe, and through yoga we can get in touch with both our inner self and the universal self.

The overall structure of Yoga – The Greater Tradition loosely follows the outline of the stages of yoga, the eight limbs as outlined in the yoga sutras. He brings a new understanding to pranayama,describing it as ” developing that power of the breath” (p62).

This book is helpful for both beginners and experienced practitioners. It ends with uplifting and optimistic notes reminding us of the ultimate power of yoga. “There is no disease that asana cannot help, even if it is only employed as a supplementary care method. Releasing blocked energy after that can work wonders for conditions that seemed beyond its grasp.” (p99) .
Yoga is indeed a great tradition, and we would all do well to be part of it.