Yoga Dharma by Hamish Hendry ****

Reading dates: 28–31 December 2016

I started by disliking the simplicity of this book, which I took to be full of generalisations. Hamish Hendry gives an overview of the important milestones in yogic texts, with summaries of the Sutras, the Gita, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Upanishads and others. I thought it was a crazy task to begin with and I felt disappointed by the little knowledge of Hendry’s vast pool that came through. I have never practiced with him but all accounts I hear are that he is an excellent teacher, very experienced and knowledgeable. Why write a 60-odd page book covering everything yogic?

Yet, as I went on, I realised that Hendry wrote this book possibly as he teaches, giving enough but also creating space for the student to find their own journey. I am coming to think that yoga cannot be taught, certainly not imparted, but all one can do is invite the setting for someone to learn. Thought in this way, Yoga Dharma is a lovely little gift, with useful pointers (which made me read want to read the Ramayana next) and succinct but sound advice—’yoga comes and goes’, and ‘never replace practice with teaching’, or example, jumped out at me. It is hard, very hard to write a book like this, and it is also hard to read and do something with it. It is a book to return to and, frankly, how many of these are there? The book I wanted, the longer, fuller, one might have been easier to write and read, but would have it inspired me to go deeper?