The Story of Yoga

This is the fascinating story of how a venerable Indian spiritual discipline turned into a £20 billion-a-year mainstay of the wellness industry. Tracing the steps along yoga’s winding path from the caves and forests of the sages to the gyms, hospitals and village halls of the modern West, it sets yoga in its global cultural context for the first time, and shows how the practice relates to important contemporary social currents. These include female empowerment, celebrity culture, the stress pandemic and the quest for authentic identity in the time of cultural crisis and widespread confusion. An engaging tale of scholars and scandal, science and spirit, wisdom and waywardness. This is the untold story of yoga, warts and all.

Alistair Shearer is a cultural historian specialising in the art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent, a former lecturer at The School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and a teacher of meditation and the psychology of yoga. His books have been translated into all major European languages, as well as Japanese and Hebrew, and his translation of the Yoga Sutras has remained in print for almost forty years Alistair is co-creator of an award winning retreat hotel ( on the coast of Malabar, in Kerala.

Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Published 23 January 2020
384 pages
ISBN 1787381927

Available from all good bookstores and from Amazon. Spread the word on social media!

Amazon  RRP £25 UK Hardback
Amazon  RRP. US Paperback

In the Light of the Self: Adi Shankara and the Yoga of Non-dualism

Adi Shankara was a South Indian sage and the foremost teacher of Advaita Vedanta, the perennial philosophy that lies at the heart of all religions. Such is his stature that even Ramana Maharshi, probably the best-known modern exponent of Advaita, referred to him simply as Acharya – ‘The Teacher’ – and translated some of his works from Sanskrit for his own devotees.

Advaita offers a vision of life as the manifestation of an absolute, non-dual consciousness transcending all time, space and causation, and it provides the direct means to experience this divine ground of all being as our own Self.

Far from being some dry and dusty ‘Indian philosophy’, Advaita is a system of practical psychology, based on meditation and insight, that draws the practitioner into the deepest consideration of their own status and what it means to be a human being. As such, it is of immediate relevance to us today, torn as we are by questions of identity and purpose, and the struggle to resolve the age-old problems of ignorance, suffering and inequality.

This book presents the teachings of Adi Shankara in a highly approachable form through modern translations of his original writings, set in the lively context of his life and mission.

The author, Alistair Shearer, is well-known for his translations of Sanskrit classics: Selections from the Upanishads and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He is a long-time teacher of meditation in the lineage of Shankara.

Previous critical acclaim:

The Upanishads:

‘A lovely decanting of this very old wine into a sparkling new bottle.’ John Updike

‘This is the kind of text that one keeps close at hand like an old, wise and compassionate friend.’ Ram Dass

‘An elegant and valuable contribution to the growing corpus of Upanishadic texts in English.’ Dr. Karan Singh

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

‘A wonderful translation, full of contemporary insight yet luminous with eternal truth.’ Jacob Needleman

About the author

Alistair Shearer ( has worked and travelled throughout the Land of the Veda over many years. He has taught courses on Indian art and architecture for several prestigious institutions, such as the British MuseumThe School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and the auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. He recently co-created an award-winning retreat hotel ( on the coast of Malabar, in the sage’s homeland Kerala.

Publisher: White Crow Books
Published December 2017
484 pages
Size: 229 x 152 mm
ISBN 978-1-78677-021-9

Amazon  RRP £16.99 UK Paperback
Amazon  RRP. $22..99 US Paperback
Direct from publisher – White Crow

Buddha: The Intelligent Heart

Buddhism is a very broad church that includes many different schools of thought and practice. This beautifully illustrated survey presents a limpid and concise overview of the essential teachings of the Buddha and his early followers and then charts their historical development and artistic expressions.
An acclaimed bestseller published in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Hebrew.
Publishers: Thames & Hudson
with 165 illustrations; 15 in colour.

The Hindu Vision: Forms of the Formless

To the Hindu, the entire universe is a living being, and through the visual arts – ritualistic, compelling, often stunningly beautiful – that holistic awareness is made available to all. Long rejected by the West as alien and bizarre, Hindu imagery speaks a language that is at last beginning to be understood. Its extraordinary symbolism – elephant-headed and multi-armed deities, fierce demons and fabulous creatures – is a sophisticated iconography conveying universal religious truths. Uniting sensuousness and spirituality, passion and detachment, Hinduism celebrates the fullness of life, and teaches the indivisibility of body and soul, time and eternity. Alistair Shearer is a teacher of meditation and a historian of oriental art, who writes and lectures on the sacred function of art and architecture. His other books include “Buddha: The Intelligent Heart” (1992). Paperback: 96 pages Publisher: Thames & Hudson (November 1993) Language: English ISBN-10: 0500810435 ISBN-13: 978-0500810439 Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches

Effortless Being: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

A lucid new translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with an illuminating introduction and stunning black and white photographs by the veteran interpreter of India, Richard Lannoy. This book set new standards in the imaginative presentation of sacred texts.
with photographs by Richard Lannoy
Published in UK, USA, France & India
Publishers: Wildwood House; Mandala Books

Thailand: The Lotus Kingdom

In Bangkok, saffron-robed monks pad barefoot through the streets on their early morning alms round, while the last of the nightclub revellers stagger home through traffic already building up under a purple dawn sky pierced by temple spires and tv aerials. In Haat Yai a pavement vendor begins barbecuing snakes for office workers’ breakfasts. In Korat, subsistence level farmers drive out their water buffalo to the paddy fields while in Mai Sae, a caravan of mules laden with raw opium picks its way carefully along a mountain track driven by tribespeople adorned with heavy silver jewellery and Kalashnikovs. Another day begins in Thailand, land of contradictions, hub of Americasia.
Publishers: John Murray
Published in UK

The Upanishads

With photographs by Richard Lannoy
‘A lovely decanting of this very old wine into a sparkling new bottle’ 
John Updike

‘An elegant and valuable contribution to the growing corpus of Upanishadic texts in English’ 
Dr. Karan Singh

Published in UK, USA & France
Publishers: Mandala Books.

The Spirit of Asia

With photographs by Michael Freeman
Published in UK, USA, France, Germany & Holland
Publishers: Thames & Hudson

The Traveler’s key to Northern India

‘This is quite simply the most informed and the most literate guide to the great Indian keynotes. It is the vade mecum for the intelligent student of the subcontinent’ 
Geoffrey Moorhouse

‘Superb. A well-written, vivid and informative guide’.
Travel & Leisure

‘By far the best guidebook on India I have ever seen’
Huston Smith

‘An engaging and lively narrative of first hand experience…one is touched not only by the deep mystery of these sacred places but by the devotion and sensitivity that the author brings to his task’
Published in UK & USA
Publishers: Alfred A Knopf; Harper Collins. Amazon UK
Amazon USA