Photographs: Michael O’Neill, Essays: Chidanand Saraswatiji, Eddie Stern, Pg: 290, Price: Rs 3,299
As far as a photographic account of yoga across the globe goes, Michael O’Neill’s On Yoga offers a magnificent portfolio of beauty, strength and poise, even if of the well-worn, exoticised genre. From his native New York City to numerous pilgrimages in India and Tibet, O’Neil has managed to present various yogic poses with some astounding frames in this Taschen book. He has monks in Leh keeping the tradition of meditation, prayer and monasticism alive, sadhus at Kumbh mela, yoga on the wrestling grounds in Kochi and to that found in the temples in houses across the country. More recent exponents, like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and yoga-guru Ramdev, find more than a passing mention as well, with the Beatles also on showcase as O’Neill grapples with yoga’s global appeal. An incident worth mentioning is his encounter with a meditating Dalai Lama, who wipes the beads of sweat from O’Neill’s face as he struggles to get the perfect frame. After he almost lost an arm from an accident, O’Neill credited yoga for getting back the use of his limb. The extensive travel and O’Neill’s passionate regard for yoga shows, but the rest is a little ambiguous. The book itself is based on the belief that, firstly, yoga is not just about asanas, it is about the union of the creation with the creator, and asanas are the path to it. And two, yoga and meditation are one. The photographer also tries to thematically present pictures based on the union of the five elements, but the attempt falls flat as the narratives do not stitch together too well.