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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self


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About the Author

Stephen Cope is a psychotherapist who writes and teaches about the relationship between contemporary psychology and the Eastern contemplative traditions. He holds degrees from Amherst College and Boston College. He is currently Scholar-in-Residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, the largest residential yoga center in the world. This is his first book. From the Hardcover edition.


Loosely utilizing the parable of the Indian king Viveka's spiritual journey to frame his own, Cope describes his ten years of yoga practice, first as a resident and now as a senior teacher at the Kripalu Institute in the Berkshires. Inspired by a devastating breakup, Cope, a psychotherapist by training, first went to Kripalu to investigate an undefined but powerful spiritual yearning. He found a home for himself in the vibrant, complex community dedicated to yoga and personal growth. In this, his first book, he provides a Western perspective by drawing parallels between yogic philosophy and psychology and emphasizing yoga's benefits as both a therapeutic tool and a spiritual path. Cope hints that yoga is being reinvented by its widespread practice in the United States, but, unfortunately, he only begins to probe such changes when, for example, he describes the liberating reorganization of Kripalu following a scandal in 1994. Though Cope's emphasis on Kripalu's style of yoga and his New Age tone will turn some readers off, few other accessible books provide as good an overview of the spirituality of yoga. As a result, this will be in demand wherever yoga is popular.ÄRebecca Miller, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"A down-to-earth, wise, spiritually mature and compassionate teaching that integrates the best of yoga and our own Western humanity. Destined to be a classic." JACK KORNFIELD, author of A Path with Heart "Few other accessible books provide as good an overview of the spirituality of yoga.... This will be in demand."

Yoga, according to first-time author and longtime yoga teacher Cope, can cure the sense of separation that dogs many people in our culture: "a separation from the life of the body; a separation from the hidden depths of life, its mystery and interiority." Here, Cope, a psychotherapist who left a practice in Boston to live, study and ultimately teach at the Kripalu Yoga ashram in Lenox, Mass., navigates yoga for Western seekers. Drawing on his own experiences and the stories of many friends and yoga students, Cope holds up ancient yogic concepts of the self against evolving theories of modern psychotherapy. Rather than attempting a reductive comparison, Cope suggests that various ideas experienced during yoga practice can enhance the goals of Western psychotherapy. Readers familiar with Jack Korn- field's A Path with Heart or Mark Epstein's Thoughts Without a Thinker may find Cope's approach noncommittal. He tells stories of liberation and release without ever quite conceding that yoga and psychotherapy are two profoundly different worldviews. Although ineluctably drawn to yoga practice and the ashram, Cope's point of view is resolutely Western and psychotherapeutic. Still, Cope's psychotherapeutic orientation and genial win-win approach lights up a notoriously arcane subject for Western readers. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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