Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 25, 2016 Reading time: 3 minutes
The first Yoga book is detailed in The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice by Elliott Goldberg © 2016 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
“Wherever I went [to promote asana practice on the tours with bodybuilder K. V. Iyer in the early and mid-1920s],” S. Sundaram recounted, “persons asked for a book of instructions, a guide or text-book on the subject.” “After the publication of my articles on ‘Yoga in Physical Culture’ in the Brahmacharya [a monthly English-language magazine published in the late 1920s], the demand for a book increased. My profession [as a lawyer] and its dry-as-dust duties claimed most of the time and attention. My ambition to popularise Yogic Physical Culture and make the sons and daughters of India partners in the enjoyment of its benefits, remained unfulfilled. Then the indefatigable Editor of the Brahmacharya, Sjt. Ramachandra, found the ways and means for the publication of a work on this subject. All that remained for me was to write it up.”
Sundaram worked on his manual in 1928 after studying and practicing and becoming an expert on yogic health cure. Yogic Physical Culture or the Secret of Happiness was published in English in 1929. It is the first modern hatha yoga book. This pioneering book is fully illustrated with photos of Sundaram demonstrating asanas. It places asana practice at the center of hatha yoga and health cure as its raison d’être.
Sundaram realised that publishing a book about hatha yoga was just as critical to modernizing hatha yoga. Previously, gurus, secretive and reclusive, had made yogic health practices available only to a select few. However, Sundaram believed that the yogic system of physical culture is the ideal “system of Physical Culture intended for masses.” Therefore, his mission in publishing Yogic Physical Culture was to make yogic physical culture indiscriminately available to anyone who cared to take it up. The book covers all critical aspects of asana, pranayama and purificatory techniques.
“Our duty in this World is to work and leave the results in His hands. May He who is All-powerful infuse enthusiasm in the readers and enable them to reap the rewards of Yogic Physical Culture in benefits enduring and substantial! Om!”. Sundaram closes the preface to his book with the above invocation.