Tag Archives: books

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBook

I was recently asked to review a new yoga eBook, and it looked pretty cool. Darren Rhodes successfully kickstartered the Yoga Resource Practice Manual, a 360-pose guidebook that’s totally digital. You can browse everything on the computer, your phone, your Kindle, and more. Here’s the preview:

I’d seen Darren’s awesome poster (From Tadasana to Savasana) in the back of my Anusara studio, but didn’t know much about his style. The poster and the book show his love of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga; each presents a comprehensive index of poses, showing a range of forms the human body can take. (Darren actually created that poster as he learned to do each and every pose in Light on Yoga. Read his piece on Elephant Journal for more details.)

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBookThe book was nice to browse, I skimmed it as I planned a Saturday morning class with a friend. Each category has some important explanatory text, and a cool diagram of the main alignment cues. You can save poses to your favorites, add notes, or highlight the text. You can quickly find the alignment instructions for any pose, as well as a little piece of inspiration in the “refinement” section. I liked these personal notes a lot, and would actually like to see a book of just these details!

As a student, you can choose new poses by browsing categories and picking a photograph. It would be good for discovering new poses outside of your regular classes, and for getting all their alignment details in one organized place.

I hope that future versions let you create and save actual sequences — I saved a bunch of poses and notes, and they were all mixed together in the sidebar. Beginners might also appreciate some default sequences, or some instructions on how to sequence a home practice.

I also wanted to know why I might choose one pose versus another, so that there are goals beyond the shape. After the category intros, there’s not a lot of details on particular benefits (or contraindications).

Accommodating injuries is (still) my current challenge, so (as a side note) I’d also love to hear more about what Darren learned from his intense approach to asana, his breaks from it, and his current practice. He writes:

“Consider viewing hatha yoga as a sport instead of as a remedy for injury and health issues. In that context, when injury occurs in your practice it simply goes with the territory. The aim of hatha yoga is certainly not to injure you. Nor is that the aim of any sport. However, in both sports and yoga, injury does occur. In my view, that is not necessarily a problem.”

That seems like a healthy relationship to injury, but I still haven’t decided if I want to agree!

I’d recommend this book for intermediate students in good health, and for any teacher wanting an inspiring, comprehensive index with clear and efficient alignment instructions. Thanks Darren.

 

 

Russell Simmons Wants You to Be Super Rich

David, Russell, and Sharon
David, Russell, and Sharon

Last week I got to attend one of Jivamukti’s Master Classes at the Prince George Ballroom. Three hours with David Life is like solid gold. (Talk about an intense guy! He looked straight into my eyes, and I thought the back of my head might catch on fire.)

We had a(nother) special guest in class: Russell Simmons. He stuck around for a Q&A after class, and even gave us all copies of his latest book, Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All. It’s a great overview about the state of consciousness — not the financial strategy — that will bring you infinite rewards.

Who wants a free copy? I read mine in two days, it’s ready for a new home! Just post a comment by tomorrow, 1/11/11, telling me the best thing you’ve ever given away. I’ll randomly choose a winner and pay for the postage. Be sure to include your email (I won’t spam you) so I can get your mailing address.

Read my extended notes about A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life and Sharon Gannon on MindBodyGreen

A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon

The Time for Change

Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (a GREAT book), has a new documentary out. It’s playing a limited run at Loews Village (3rd Ave at 11th St) until this Thursday, October 18th.

2012: Time for Change presents an optimistic alternative to apocalyptic doom and gloom. Directed by Emmy Award nominee João Amorim, the film follows journalist Daniel Pinchbeck, author of the bestselling 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, on a quest for a new paradigm that integrates the archaic wisdom of tribal cultures with the scientific method. As conscious agents of evolution, we can redesign post-industrial society on ecological principles to make a world that works for all. Rather than breakdown and barbarism, 2012 heralds the birth of a regenerative planetary culture where collaboration replaces competition, where exploration of psyche and spirit becomes the new cutting edge, replacing the sterile materialism that has pushed our world to the brink. The film features Sting, Ellen Page, David Lynch, Gilberto Gil, and many other artists and visionaries.

Here’s the trailer:

Thanks swissmiss for the heads-up. More info at Reality Sandwich.

Books: The Subtle Body (The Story of Yoga in America)

The Subtle Body by Stefanie Syman
The Subtle Body by Stefanie Syman

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a book reading by Stefanie Syman this weekend at YogaWorks Soho. Her book / seven-year research project, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America hit shelves this summer, and taught me a lot about the ways that Americans have interpreted “yoga” over the years. (Thanks Anya Porter, host of Saturday’s Breakti, for teaching the free community class beforehand!)

Stefanie talked about several notable shifts in the yoga community. The first, in the early 70’s, when Iyengar and other teachers were reclaiming yoga from its “dirty hippie” associations with the psychadelic 60’s. Iyengar forbade chanting and meditation in classes, and many teachers followed their gurus’ direct instructions to secularize yoga, to “save” it from irrelevance. Yoga could cure insomnia, help your back pain; you didn’t need to worry about the spirituality.

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Hope in Progress

Aw, cute! The energetic and inspiring Christa Avampato, who has blogged here on Yogoer on occasion, was kind enough to include me in her new book, Hope in Progress: 27 Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me During the Great Recession.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, it’s a great book. I loved the stories of other entrepreneurs (it’s definitely a new label for me), and Christa has pulled together some great advice from admirable New Yorkers like Michael Dorf of City Winery, Jerri Chou of All Day Buffet, and Scott Belsky of Behance. It’s amazing to think about all the paths you can take with your life.

Hope in Progress is available as a Kindle download or a free pdf download on Christa’s blog. Enjoy!

Why We Do Yoga

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

I’m reading The Feminine Mystique right now, one of those books you always hear about but never get around to reading. A pithy quote from Betty Friedan finally got me to the library. It was written in 1963, but it’s kind of blowing my mind. I’m not much of a history buff, so to read her analysis of WHY these liberated career women of the 20’s and 30’s CHOSE to become the polished, yet depressed, housewives of the 50’s, is staggering. (Short answer: WWII veterans filling the media w/domestic nostalgia, Freud’s “penis envy” equating female achievement with sublimated jealousy, and the 50’s daughters rejecting their mothers as role models in the typical pendulum of generations.)

The book is especially interesting to read now, with all the Martha Stewart, Mad Men, and back-to-the-farm nostalgia going around. One passage in particular made me think:

The uncritical acceptance of Freudian doctrine in America was caused, at least in part, by the very relief it provided from uncomfortable questions about objective realities. After the depression, after the war, Freudian psychology became much more than a science of human behavior, a therapy for the suffering. It became an all-embracing American ideology, a new religion. It filled the vacuum of thought and purpose that existed for many for whom God, or flag, or bank account were no longer sufficient—and yet who were tired of feeling responsible for lynchings and concentration camps and the starving children of India and Africa. It provided a convenient escape from the atom bomb, McCarthy, all the disconcerting problems that might spoil the taste of steaks, and cars and color television and backyard swimming pools. It gave us permission to suppress the troubling questions of the larger world and pursue our own personal pleasures. And if the new psychological religion — which made a virtue of sex, removed all sin from private vice, and cast suspicion on high aspirations of the mind and spirit — had a more devastating personal effect on women than men, nobody planned it that way.

Wow. We’re in similar predicaments today, right? But we’re choosing other philosophies at the moment. So let’s play Madlibs and insert some more modern topics.

The uncritical acceptance of yoga in America was caused, at least in part, by the very relief it provided from uncomfortable questions about objective realities. After the recession, throughout the Iraq war, yoga became much more than a workout for hippies, a therapy for the suffering. It became an all-embracing American ideology, a new religion. It filled the vacuum of thought and purpose that existed for many for whom God, or job title, or bank account were no longer sufficient—and yet who were tired of feeling responsible for global warming and Guantánamo Bay and the military-industrial complex. It provided a convenient escape from the oil spill, Fox News, all the disconcerting problems that might spoil the taste of organic food and iPhones and HDTV and luxury travel. It gave us permission to suppress the troubling questions of the larger world and pursue our own personal pleasures. And if the new psychological religion — which made a virtue of physical fitness, removed all sin from self-absorption, and cast suspicion on material well-being — had a somewhat devastating personal effect on our joints, nobody planned it that way.

[Last bit referencing http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/24stretch/ and other updates on the increasing injuries due to yoga.]

What do you think? Am I off my rocker? There’s a bit of escapism needed right now, and I think that’s part of yoga’s popularity.

Books: Anatomy for Yoga; Yoga Anatomy

Anatomy for Yoga; Uttanasana Spread
Anatomy for Yoga; click to view Uttanasana Spread

McGraw-Hill Publishing was kind enough to send me their latest yoga book to review. Anatomy for Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Your Muscles in Action, by Nicky Jenkins and Leigh Brandon, is a helpful guide to a personalized yoga practice. The authors provide an overview of yoga anatomy, including terminology, main systems, and breathing. They also review meditation and the chakra (or “subtle”) system, and how it might affect your physical systems.

From there, they identify four major postural types: kyphosis (round shoulders), lordosis (overarched lower back), flat back, and swayback (hips forward). Each type has a few possible causes; you might have a head-forward posture because of your computer setup, the sports you play, or the emotions trapped in the chest.

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Jules Henry Says

The function of high school, then, is not so much to communicate knowledge as to oblige children finally to accept the grading system as a measure of their inner excellence. And a function of the self-destructive process in American children is to make them willing to accept not their own, but a variety of other standards, like a grading system, for measuring themselves. It is thus apparent that the way American culture is now integrated it would fall apart if it did not engender feelings of inferiority and worthlessness.

— Jules Henry, quoted in Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen

Aldous Huxley Says…

In one way or another, ALL our experiences are chemically conditioned, and if we imagine that some of them are purely “spiritual,” purely “intellectual,” purely “aesthetic,” it is merely because we have never troubled to investigate the internal chemical environment at the moment of their occurence.

Aldous Huxley
Quoted by Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire

Michael Pollan Says Forget It

Memory is the enemy of wonder, which abides nowhere else but in the present. This is why, unless you are a child, wonder depends on forgetting–on a process, that is, of subtraction.

Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire