supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Step-by-Step Yoga for Pregnancy is an excellent guide to all aspects of prenatal yoga, from physical postures to pranayama and meditation. Teasdill discusses the implications of pregnancy on yoga practice at each step of the way; she makes the poses fresh for those already familiar with yoga, and her warm tone is encouraging for new beginners without being overwhelming. This nicely illustrated book is appropriate for new students as well as experienced practitioners.

In chapter 1, Teasdill begins with an overview of how the body changes during pregnancy and how yoga can facilitate good health; chapter 2 discusses some yoga basics and describes how yoga can be beneficial in everyday life. Chapters 3-5 detail the physical asanas appropriate for each trimester, with drawings and descriptions of how and why to do each posture. Teasdill links the asanas in several sequences to accommodate different times of day or energy levels. As the pregnancy progresses, Teasdill focuses the chapter on a different aspect of yoga practice: pranayama in the first trimester (chapter 3), asanas in the second trimester (chapter 4), and meditation in the third trimester (chapter 5). She finishes the book with chapters 6 and 7, discussing labor and birth and life after the birth, respectively, including yoga postures to help heal the body after childbirth.

Teasdill explains clearly which poses are safe to do at which stage of pregnancy and offers plenty of options for modification or support with props like chairs and bean bags. For the spiritual side of prenatal yoga, Teasdill includes several nice guided meditations to foster relaxation and connection to the growing baby. Yoga teachers will find this book an excellent reference, and expectant mothers will appreciate Teasdill's expertise, guidance, and sensitivity.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
My father has had three spine surgeries to date, and as a yoga teacher, I've wondered what I could do to help him while at the same time fearing to damage his back further. My friend Kyle recommended this book. Dr. Brownstein's program is one that a yoga teacher can really get behind, focusing not just on recovering from physical injury, but on the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of healthy living as well.

Dr. Brownstein begins the book by telling the story of his own struggles with debilitating back pain and his journey to recovery. His experiences give him a special understanding of what those with back pain are suffering. Because of his own search for healing, Dr. Brownstein has a unique perspective on how to heal from a back injury and prevent future problems.

Dr. Brownstein's program for healing is based on his concept of the mind/body connection, described in chapters 2 and 3. According to Dr. Brownstein, mental and emotional stress can result in an increase in muscle tension and tightness, leading to injury. Dr. Brownstein urges the reader not to overmedicate, or to leap ahead to treating back problems with surgery and other invasive techniques; rather, he advocates spending some time with the pain, to understand what's wrong and what the body is trying to communicate. It's important to understand how the back works physically, and chapter 2 describes back anatomy in detail so the reader will understand the structures and terminology and know how back pain can result from weakness, imbalance, or strain elsewhere in the body. But sometimes the best and most permanent solution to a back problem is to make changes to lifestyle and behaviors that cause stress.

This book covers the full lifestyle spectrum in Dr. Brownstein's approach to healing the back. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the physical body. Chapter 4 includes a wide variety of stretches for the back; most of these are taken from yoga asanas, and may are simple and gentle enough to be done in the midst of back pain and can lead to some relief when done properly. Dr. Brownstein outlines how to use these stretches, in the order he lists them and over time, to regain mobility and reduce pain. Once the back has been fully stretched and the pain is gone, the reader can move on to strengthening the back as described in chapter 5. Back muscles that are both flexible AND strong are less likely to be pulled or strained.

Chapters 6-10 cover stress management, healthy eating, work, play, and spirituality as they relate to back care and overall health. Dr. Brownstein takes a holistic approach based on his mind/body concept: since anxiety and stress can affect the body, causing muscle tension and contributing to injury, it's important to heal not only the body but also the mind, heart, and spirit to truly recover from a back problem. By reducing stress, reducing caffeine intake, improving one's outlook on work, opening the heart in personal relationships, and cultivating a sense of humor and fun, the reader can improve her overall health and happiness and remove many of the stressors that can lead to future back pain and injury.

I've never suffered from a chronic pain condition, so I can't comment on the book's usefulness for those actively in pain. However, as a yoga teacher, this book helped me to understand better the perspective of someone in that kind of pain and gave me some tools to help those future students. I plan to buy a copy of this book for my dad as well.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
I found Cope's approach to this book pretty fascinating. Read more... )
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
I'm still way behind on my YJ reading - have a stack of them from the fall and winter to go through - but I am at least trying to keep up with the current issues. The May 2012 YJ is the Creativity Issue. LJ-cutting this because I'm going to cross-post this to the yoga blog too. )
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Trying to catch up on my back issues of YJ - read this a few weeks ago and found a lot of good stuff in it.

There was a short article about teaching yoga to deaf students that I thought was really interesting, since that's something I'd never really thought about, but a deaf person could walk into my yoga class anytime. There are some simple things a yoga teacher can do to make a class more accessible for a deaf student, like making eye contact, demonstrating poses, and using touch to guide. These are easy things to do that wouldn't disrupt my usual teaching rhythm at all but that I wouldn't have thought of on my own, so I was grateful that this article broadened my awareness. Definitely tore that one out for future reference.

There was an article on chair pose that I really appreciated, since it wasn't too long ago that I was struggling a bit with chair pose and did a write-up for the yoga blog. I can see myself coming back to that article for reference later. I was also really interested in the moon salutation sequence - I haven't tried it yet, and it could end up being a little flowy for me, but it's definitely something I want to try.

I was also really interested in the article on yoga and religion. I really appreciated that YJ put together a panel to discuss this. After reading the article, I went back to the March 2012 issue that I'd read a few weeks earlier, and there were several letters from readers about this article, some of whom really liked it. One reader noted that the article might have had more depth if the panel had included some actual religious leaders (priests, nuns, rabbis), rather than just yogis, which was an interesting point. I was glad, though, that Brooke Boon, the founder of Holy Yoga, a Christian ministry group, was included on the panel. I'm really interested in the intersections of yoga with personal faith, and the article gave me some new perspectives and talking points. I wish YJ made its back issues available online.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
I liked the look of this issue of YJ because it features a woman in her 40s or 50s on the cover, doing quite an accomplished navasana. I love it when YJ expands their horizons to include cover models who aren't white women in their 20s.

In this issue, there was a page about yoga being good for high blood pressure (which I tore out to give to my parents), a handy guide to cooking different types of whole grains and some delicious sounding recipes (looking forward to trying the blueberry quinoa muffins and the wheat berry salad), and an interview with Sanjay Patel, author/illustrator of The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities, which I now want to buy in order to get awesome posters to hang on my baby's wall.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness is an excellent and informative book and a good practical manual for meditation. A wide variety of meditation techniques are discussed, in language that makes them accessible to even the most un-Buddhist of readers. Mingyur (Rinpoche is an honorific given to respected teachers) is a kind and encouraging teacher; his writing style is very natural and conversational, helping you feel as if he's right there beside you to help along the way.

The book is divided into three main sections. Part One: The Ground begins by describing Mingyur's early life and training in meditation and his journey toward overcoming anxiety. He's an engaging storyteller, and it's comforting to hear that even a monk who grew up meditating from childhood can still struggle with his mind. This section also discusses the connection between the ancient Buddhist practices of meditation and modern advances in neuroscience, physics, and biology. Raised in isolated monasteries, Mingyur is fascinated with Western science and has worked with many scientists to learn about the brain's workings and the structure of the universe and compare them with the Buddhist understanding of the mind and reality. While interesting, this area was not as strong as other sections - these discussions could have benefited from a scientist coauthor to help refine and make specific Mingyur's comparisons. However, Mingyur does make a good case for meditation as valuable and needed in the West, and his ideas here are well worth reading.

In Part Two: The Path and Part Three: The Fruit, Mingyur is at his best, carefully walking the reader through the basics of meditation. He provides a firm foundation for beginners, with examples from his own history as guidance. Beyond the basics, he details a variety of different meditation techniques that will appeal to new and experienced students alike. He asserts that it is the intention to meditate that is most important, not the actual time spent on it or whether your mind wanders off in the middle. Mingyur strives to make meditation available to everyone.

I began reading this book back in February 2011 and just finished it this month, but the long reading time is due to my own crazy schedule this year, not any failing of Mingyur's. I've actually posted about this book on several other occasions because as I read I found his words so encouraging and insightful. I highly recommend this book to anyone hoping to begin or deepen a meditation practice.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Swami Vivekananda lived from 1863 to 1902 and is best known for his address at the Parliament of Religions in 1893, which helped to bring Hinduism to the modern world as a major religion. Vivekananda wrote a number of books, some of which are based on his lectures, and Karma-Yoga is one of these. In this book, Vivekananda expands on the concept of Karma yoga as set out in the Bhagavad Gita. The copy that I read is borrowed from the library at the college where my husband works; it's a tiny little book, maybe 4" x 5", and only 143 pages, but Vivekananda's explication of Karma yoga really moved me and helped me to understand how the path of Karma yoga can work in my life. Because the book was published so long ago, you can read the whole thing online, so feel free to check it out! If you're interested in the topic, this book is well worth the time. Read my full review behind the cut. )
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
The Upanishads are a group of ancient wisdom texts. Each individual upanishad is named for the sage who delivered its teaching, long ago; each one describes in flashes of insight how to explore your own consciousness, how to come closer to the Divine. Some of the upanishads take the form of a story: a student (or a wife, or even a king) implores a great sage (or even Death itself) to share holy secrets. Most of the upanishads rely on classic natural images - birds, trees, water - that make the metaphors timeless and appealing even thousands of years after they were written.

It's impossible to write an unbiased book review of a cherished spiritual text - how could I possibly critique the writing style or the structure of a book like this? So this review will be a little more personal. I loved The Upanishads. They called out to me in a way other spiritual books, including the Bible, just haven't. I expect to keep The Upanishads by my bed, read them again and again, consult different translations, flip through seeking guidance. It can be a difficult book, and I don't ever expect to understand it fully, but I loved it.

While the text itself is beyond critique, the translation and the version I can comment on. I really like Eknath Easwaran's translations (I also read his version of the Bhagavad Gita). Easwaran is well-versed in Sanskrit and in Hindu spirituality, and before becoming a spiritual teacher was an English professor, so he has all the tools to create both a beautiful and accurate rendition. Easwaran also writes the introduction, which I found helpful for putting The Upanishads in their historical context and setting the stage for the sort of text I was about to read (since when I started I really had no idea what I was getting into). This volume also includes a brief 2-3 page introduction before each upanishad, written by Michael Nagler. These I also found informative, and it was helpful to look as I read for the points that Nagler had called out as being important, but I think I would have preferred to read the upanishad first and then read Nagler's summary of it. Nagler also writes a lengthy afterword, which I did not find very useful. The end matter includes a glossary and a section of notes, which I didn't realize were there as I was reading the upanishads, and I think I'm glad I didn't know they were there - I'm the sort of person who will flip back and forth consulting the notes, and I'm glad I was able simply to experience the upanishads on this first read rather than analyzing them academically. There will be plenty of time to look at the notes and read other translations. The glossary might have been helpful a few times, though, and I imagine it would be very useful to someone who hasn't spent the past ten months up to her ears in yoga philosophy.

Overall, I would say that if you're new to Hindu spirituality, I wouldn't recommend starting with The Upanishads - the Bhagavad Gita is a much more accessible book for most people. For me, though, The Upanishads was more inviting, more enthralling than the Gita, and more accessible too. The first time I read the Gita I walked away thinking that it was nice and all but nothing great, and I needed the lectures and discussion of my yoga teacher training course to put the Gita's systems in context and help me understand what I was reading. With The Upanishads, I felt like I could really hear the sages speaking directly to me: faraway, murky, blurred voices, sure, but I could hear it. I look forward to listening again and again.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Leslie Kaminoff's Yoga Anatomy is a fantastic reference and guide to the way the body moves during yoga. The drawings are incredibly detailed and really help to increase understanding of how each pose works. The introductory sections on breathing and the spine are clearly written and really helpful for comprehending how breathing functions and how the spine develops and moves. The remainder of the book is organized by categories of postures: standing, sitting, kneeling, supine, prone, and arm support poses. Each pose gets detailed coverage with at least one drawing, often two or more showing the pose from different angles. For each pose, the text describes relevant joint actions and structures and muscles that are working, lengthening, or stretching, and provides any notes on or significant obstacles to practicing the pose as well as notes on breathing. Common variations on certain key poses are described in detail as well.

I started out trying to read this book from start to finish, which was fine in the early chapters on breath and spine, but less fine when I got into the specific postures. Eventually I began to use the book more as it was intended, as an on-the-spot reference guide. The biggest problem I've had with the book is that of vocabulary: I'm just not familiar enough with the names of bodily structures to be able to follow along with some of the text. For example, the text will often go into detail describing how a muscle is stretching, but the drawing won't have those structures labeled. I have a very vague sense that the obturator externus is somewhere in my leg, but telling me that it's lengthening in a seated wide-leg forward fold doesn't help me identify it. I wouldn't expect the drawing for each pose to have every single active muscle labeled, since that could easily become overwhelming, but I could have really benefited from a chart somewhere with all muscles labeled that I could flip to for quick reference. I also had trouble keeping straight exactly what sort of action is occurring with words like "flexion" and "extension", particularly because one part of the body can be flexed while another is extended, and if you add to this my anatomic vocabulary confusion, I have no idea what's going on. Sometimes I would have to perform the pose while I read so I could literally feel what the author was talking about, and that did help. In general, though, the descriptions really lost something for me, which is a shame because the book is very thorough and detailed and I could have really gotten a lot out of it if there had been more help included for less scientific minds. Overall, this is an excellent reference, but I'm going to be looking for another anatomy book to accompany it on my reference shelf.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Some good recipes to tear out in this issue. I feel like I have stacks of read YJs sitting around waiting for me to go through them and tear out the recipes or otherwise do something with the pages I marked while I was reading. Plus when I do get around to tearing out the recipes, they just get shoved into my recipe binder, where I then need to organize them. (The recipe situation is made worse by the fact that F has a subscription to Bon Appetit.) I don't want to throw this stuff out because we've cooked some really good recipes from these magazines before, but just looking at my recipe binder is stressful. Anyway, yeah, Yoga Journal, I read it. (And just now in the middle of writing this post, I went through the two read YJs and tore stuff out, and now I'm done with them. Yay.)
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
In this book, Ellen Barrett uses yoga to help couples access the poses of the Kama Sutra. Both yoga and the Kama Sutra originated in ancient India, and Barrett relates each to the other to show how, with yoga practice, the difficult sexual poses of the Kama Sutra can be achievable (and pleasurable!). The book contains over 100 black and white photographs, illustrating both the yoga asanas and the Kama Sutra poses.

Barrett begins the book with an introduction describing the origins of both yoga and the Kama Sutra and how they relate. She covers yoga breathing, the chakras, and auras. The second section, “Glowing Solo”, is a guide to the yoga poses Barrett feels will be most helpful in opening the body for enhanced sexual pleasure. For each pose, Barrett provides instructions on how to get into the pose, how long to stay there, the benefits of the pose, ways to modify it, a meditation to consider while practicing the pose, and a photograph of what the pose looks like.

In the third section, “Divine Duets”, Barrett provides a guide to yoga asanas for couples – using yoga poses to mimic their counterparts from the Kama Sutra to give couples a workout and a good stretch before heading to the bedroom in section 4, “Sacred Sex”. In this last section, the models in the photographs take off their clothes to demonstrate the Kama Sutra poses hands-on.

Sexy Yoga would be a great book to keep in the bedroom for quick reference or inspiration at bedtime. However, with its large photographs, Sexy Yoga is not a book you can read on the train. Even throughout the introduction, photographs of bare nipples and buttocks abound – great for a bedroom guide but not for reading in a public place. Overall it’s not the sort of book that people will use by reading it cover to cover; readers will likely want to flip through looking at the photos to get ideas, only reading more deeply when something catches the eye.

Where Better Sex Through Yoga is in essence a yoga book with sex in it, Sexy Yoga is ultimately a Kama Sutra sex manual with some yoga in it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The combination of yoga and the Kama Sutra does make sense: for example, a man doing camel pose and a woman doing cow tilt combine to create the Kama Sutra’s congress of the cow. By practicing yoga asanas, one can build the strength and flexibility to be better able to utilize the Kama Sutra pose and get more enjoyment out of it in the bedroom. However, readers should note that this book is by no means a complete guide to yoga, as Barrett really only gives coverage of 20 solo yoga asanas, and recommends that the asanas be practiced in the order she presents them. Better Sex Through Yoga gives a wider variety both of poses and of routines/sequences. However, the poses discussed in Sexy Yoga are covered thoroughly and well, including modifications for those with physical limitations. This feature makes the book more accessible than BSTY, which generally assumes its reader to be physically fit. Barrett’s sections on pose benefits are more in-depth than those in BSTY, and the meditations for each pose are a nice touch. Barrett does give attention to the spiritual and emotional aspects of yoga, and acknowledges the Kama Sutra as a sacred text.

One downside of Sexy Yoga is the fact that the author seems to scrimp on some of the yogic content, leading to inaccuracies. For example, Barrett describes hatha yoga as having three parts: asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, which she mistranslates as “meditation”. It wouldn’t have taken too much more effort to list the eight parts of classical hatha yoga correctly and then say that she’d focus on three of them. Also, Barrett conflates several pranayama techniques together into one, which she calls ujjayi breathing. I just don’t see a need for presenting this material inaccurately. In BSTY, the authors leave a lot out, but the material they do present is given accurately and correctly. Still, while Barrett’s omissions may annoy experienced yoga practitioners, they won’t hurt a beginner.

On the whole, Barrett’s Sexy Yoga is a fun and frisky guide for couples who want to bring some Kama Sutra adventure and yoga strength and flexibility to the bedroom.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
This issue had Alanis Morissette on the cover. It was a music issue: interviews with musicians about how yoga keeps them centered on tour, info about kirtan and yoga music and concerts. Interesting, but not really where my head's at these days.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute)
In Better Sex Through Yoga, Jacquie Noelle Greaux and Jennifer Langheld discuss in detail how yoga can make your sex life better by boosting your sex drive and enhancing physical pleasure. For those who already practice yoga, this concept is a no-brainer: yoga makes you physically stronger and more flexible, it improves your stamina and muscle control, gives you more energy, and helps you develop a thorough knowledge of how your own body works, all of which can lead to improved physical performance in the bedroom. Further, yoga practice often leads to increased self-confidence and a more open and compassionate heart, and yoga is proven to relieve stress, so practicing yoga can help with the emotional and spiritual side of sex as well.

In the first few chapters, Greaux and Langheld discuss all of these benefits, going into detail about why both yoga and sex are good for you and how practicing one can benefit the other. In chapter 3, they embark on a yoga primer for those who've never practiced it before, including coverage of yoga breathing and the chakras.

The bulk of the book is in chapter 4, which offers a detailed breakdown of each pose Greaux and Langheld use in the Better Sex Through Yoga program. There's a brief description of each pose, detailed instructions on how to perform the pose, notes on which chakras benefit, which areas of the body are worked, and which sexual positions work the same muscles, followed by a "hot tip" for improving your posture in the pose and/or your sexual use of the pose. In addition to yoga poses, Greaux and Langheld also pull from pilates and dance moves to provide a full body workout. Duo-assisted poses are offered, as well as poses you can do at your desk at work. There are photographs of each and every pose, often demonstrating step by step how to accomplish the pose.

In chapters 5 and 6, the individual poses are pulled together into a series of routines. There are three core routines and eight quickie routines, which offers the reader some flexibility in her yoga practice depending on how much time she has available. The routines vary widely, and there are routines specially designed for being stuck in a chair at the office, calming down after a stressful day, or stretching out quickly before joining a partner in the bedroom. Chapter 7 ties it all together by giving a list of sexual positions, with an illustration and a description for each telling how your yoga practice will deepen your sexual satisfaction.

I have some conflicted feelings about this book, so I'll get the negative stuff out of the way first. Greaux and Langheld obviously have a target audience in mind: straight women (lesbians could certainly use this book to improve their sex lives too, but they're clearly not the target audience), women who probably work in offices, and who are already in fairly good physical shape and are already physically active. I think this book would be difficult to use for someone who was overweight or someone limited in their flexibility. That's not to say that yoga wouldn't help those people, or that those people can't have hot sex, just that the book seems geared toward women who resemble Greaux herself, as Greaux models all the poses (there's a male model as well, credited in the back of the book as the "Living Male Work of Art" - he's good at yoga poses but I'd almost rather see him on a naughty birthday card). You can see Greaux on the book's cover, doing a split. Photographs of less flexible people might have been more helpful for those who are true yoga beginners.

The routines are definitely intended to be vinyasa style: each routine includes a lot of poses, with instructions that you should work up to practicing for 30-45 minutes. They expect you to move fast through these routines, and that's not necessarily what beginners can or should do, unless they're already very used to exercise. From my perspective as a yoga teacher, I didn't appreciate how the routines would bounce you up and down: you do some standing poses, then some seated poses, then you stand up again, then you get back down to the floor. That sort of thing is more difficult for beginners or those with limited mobility, and it's also contrary to my understanding of the purpose of practicing yoga (but then again, practicing yoga to prepare the mind and body for meditation is different from practicing yoga to prepare the body for hot sex, so really there is a different purpose here). Finally, the writing style is really sensationalist - I think they must have had a rule in place to make sure they used the word "sexy" at least twice per page. That's the sort of thing that drives me nuts.

But, all that aside, the content here is really very good. The section on poses is great because it's quite thorough and it does tell you exactly what part of the body you're working in each pose and how that helps you in bed. The authors don't shy away from detail. In some cases the authors have altered the traditional pose, but it's clear to me (as a yoga teacher, anyway) why they've done it and what the sexual benefit of doing the pose a different way would be. They've incorporated moves from pilates and dance, but the ones I've tried so far are easy and clearly have some bedroom benefits. The routines get you up and down and up and down, but they're otherwise well structured to be full body workouts. Finally, the "sexy secretary" sections, which modify poses so they can be done from a desk chair, are brilliant. I'll be photocopying these and surreptitiously doing them at the office.

The sexysexy language, while troubling, is the maple syrup on the vegetables: the idea that yoga isn't just good for your sex life, it's good for you as a person. The authors don't leave out the emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of doing yoga. In fact, when they list the reasons why yoga improves your sex life, the very first thing on the list is compassion, the ability to love and be loved. The language used sounds shallow, but the core message is not, and I really think the authors want to reach a wide range of readers and improve their lives. I liked the book a lot and would recommend it to anyone with a working knowledge of yoga who can take the sexysexy talk with a grain of salt and move on to the practical stuff.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
The Bhagavad Gita is one of India's best known scriptures. It tells the story of Arjuna, a warrior on the eve of battle who has lost heart and become uncertain as to his duty. Arjuna turns to his spiritual guide, Krishna, for answers to all the key questions of life, questions about wisdom and service and spirituality. The battle that Arjuna is about to fight is the perfect metaphor for life and the interior battle we all fight to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. The Gita, in essence, is a manual for how to live.

For my yoga teacher training, we were asked to read a translation of the Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran. On the back cover, Easwaran's version is described as "reliable" and "readable", and this is definitely true. Easwaran opens the book with an introduction to the Gita, setting the scene, and then each chapter of the Gita opens with a brief introduction that explicates the content of that chapter. This makes the story easy to follow, and really helps in understanding the context of Arjuna's and Krishna's conversation. The endmatter of the book includes a section of notes (typically, helpful insights on issues of translation), as well as a glossary of Sanskrit terms and an index. Easwaran's version really focuses on making the Gita accessible for the reader, so this version is a great place to start if you're reading the Gita for the first time.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Full title: The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman's Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras

I first read this book a little over a year ago but reread it for yoga teacher training. It was interesting to read in conjunction with the other translation my teachers chose for the class.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
The Yoga Sutras, the key text in the study of yoga, is an ancient text dating back at least 2000 years. The sutras were compiled by the sage Patanjali (pah-TAN-ja-lee). Patanjali didn't invent the concept of yoga, but he made a system of it by bringing together all the existing teachings and traditions and giving them a structure for students to follow. The word "sutra" means "thread" - the text is a collection of almost 200 brief "threads" of wisdom. Patanjali used as few words as possible in each sutra with the idea that students would be learning from an established teacher, who would expound upon each sutra in turn. Sri Swami Satchidananda takes on that role in this translation of the sutras and the accompanying commentary.

The sutras are traditionally grouped into four books: Book One, Contemplation; Book Two, Practice; Book Three, Accomplishments; and Book Four, Absoluteness. For most students, just reading Books One and Two is sufficient - the last two books contain the more esoteric teachings. For my teacher training we actually started by jumping right in with Book Two, the practical teachings, and this certainly isn't a bad idea. For Patanjali, the physical practice of yoga is simply a means of calming the mind, and the vast majority of the sutras are about the mind; it can be a little easier for the modern student to begin with the practical sutras in Book Two before working on the contemplative sutras in Book One.

This version of the sutras follows a helpful format: for each sutra, the original Sanskrit is given, along with the Sanskrit transliteration, the literal translation, and finally a translation set in readable English prose. This is a helpful structure because it can appeal both to the serious Sanskrit student as well as to the beginning student (who can just skip right to the English). After each sutra follows commentary from Swami Satchidananda. At first I found the commentary to be rather dry, but after journeying through the whole book I came to enjoy his tone and appreciate his stories. Satchidananda's translations of the sutras are very straightforward, and his commentary really elucidates each sutra and gets to the heart of what Patanjali is saying.

Overall, this is a good translation of the Yoga Sutras for beginning students, and for those who have studied the sutras before, Satchidananda's commentary is a worthwhile reason to choose this edition for a re-read.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
This issue of YJ went surprisingly fast. There was a page on natural sleep aids for travelers, which I ripped out for F, and a page on brain health for older people, which I ripped out to send to my mom. The article about hoop yoga was energetic and fun.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
I read this last fall, but I had to reread it for yoga teacher training. Really enjoyable to read the book in a different context - last time I was looking mostly at the poetry, this time at the content, the instructions for how to live. Got more out of it this time.
supercheesegirl: (yoga - cute lotus sunburst)
Took me forever to read this. A good issue focusing on women leaders in yoga: how women leaders can support younger women without feeling threatened, how women leaders can act for change in the world. A good issue.

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