AS PUBLISHED IN TIMEOUT NEW YORK
A yoga class in which only men can chant “om” seems silly today, but that restriction was once one of many imposed on female practitioners. Janice Gates, founding director of Yoga Garden Studio in San Anselmo, California, illuminates the yogic role of the fairer sex in her new book, Yogini: The Power of Women in Yoga (Mandala Press, $20). Gates begins with a compelling overview—including the story of how women’s role in the practice diminished once the Brahmin culture took hold in India in 1500 B.C.E.—before profiling 17 contemporary yogini pioneers, including Sharon Gannon, the director of megastudio Jivamukti, and Gurumayi, Siddha Yoga’s beloved leader. With handsome reproductions of yoginis in Indian art, the book uncovers a story that’s rarely told: Women were once valuable teachers and spiritual guides in yoga—and now finally are again.