My Favorite Yoga Book: Dune (Yes, That Dune)

YJ editor Kyle Houseworth on why Dune may just be the yoga book missing from your collection.

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The Dune series by Frank Herbert probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of mindfulness and yoga, but I find that these books are saturated with yogic philosophy.

If you’re not familiar with Dune, it’s a Sci-Fi Space Opera loaded with detailed world-building, exciting adventures, coming-of-age stories on warp speed, and a spice called melange that the entire intergalactic empire depends on.

The majority of the action takes place on the desert planet of Arrakis—also known as Dune.  Thousands of years before the story takes place, intelligent machinery (think A.I. and computers that can reason like the human mind) were banned, giving rise to Mentats and the Bene Gesserit—people who have been bred over generations to act like human computers and have complete control over their bodies and minds. Enter the connection to yoga.

The Bene Gesserit practice what is called prana-bindu, a technique that gives them complete control over every nerve and muscle in their body. In Sanskrit, prana means “life force” or “energy” and is often linked with pranayama—or breathing practices—that allow you to channel this life force through your body. Bindu directly translates to “point”  and is understood as the expression of the highest consciousness, or the point that leads into pure consciousness. It’s not a reach to argue that the Bene Gesserit practice the same body and mind control that we do when sitting in meditation or holding an asana.

Dune Book Series
The Dune series on the author’s nightstand.


I’m currently on the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune, and have been astonished by the references to yoga, meditation, and philosophy all throughout the series. For example, on page 260 of God Emperor of Dune, Herbert writes, “Let there be no doubt that I am the assemblage of our ancestors, the arena in which they exercise my moments. They are my cells and I am their body. This is the favrashi of which I speak, the soul, the collective unconscious, the source of archetypes, the repository of all trauma and joy. I am the choice of their awakening. My samadhi is their samadhi. Their experiences are mine! Their knowledge distilled in my inheritance. Those billions are my one.”

Woah… casually referencing the 8th limb of yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra in the middle of a Sci-Fi book. Depending on the version that you pick up, Paul is even found meditating in the first few pages of the original Dune.

Whether you’re looking to escape into a fascinating universe, receive inspiration for your meditation practice, or maybe—just maybe—gain complete stillness in Bakasana (Crow Pose), the Dune series will have what you’re looking for. The lengthy books may seem daunting, but have no fear, because fear is the mind-killer.


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