Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yoga Books: The Bhagavad Gita

Title: The Bhagavad Gita
Published: Penguin Classics, 2010 (First published -500)
Author: Anonymous

Description: 'The Bhagavad Gita', a scintillating jewel embedded in the great Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna set against the background of war. At the beginning of the poem, we learn that there is going to be a great war for the rule of a kingdom. (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I'm going to make my thoughts on this book quite short. Basically, this is one of the essential readings of Yoga, if you're interested in the spiritual and I guess you could say, religious aspect of a Yoga practice.

I read the Penguin Cloth bound classic version of the book and the translator was Juan Mascaro. He included a pretty comprehensive introduction that talked about the translation as well as some of the other ancient sanskrit texts on the same sort of topics.  I found the introduction to be really interesting and it gave a lot of insight into the history of the book and the translations surrounding it.

In terms of the actual text itself, I found it to be quite easy to read and really insightful. The poem is split into smaller pieces so you can read a section and take a break and let the ideas and philosophy being presented sink in a little and then move on.

I quite enjoyed reading The Bhagavad Gita and I definitely think I'll read through it again at some point.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yoga Books: The Beginner's Guide to Classic Yoga by Frances Houlahan

Title: The Beginner's Guide to Classic Yoga
Author: Frances Houlahan
Published: D&S Books, 2001

Synopsis: Not just a form of exercise, Yoga helps you achieve physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Classic Yoga is an introduction to the principal Yoga postures, each with fully illustrated step-by-step instructions, and is suitable for all ages and abilities.Featuring an introduction to the history and principles of the different styles of yoga, together with advice on general health care and relaxation. (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Normally in this section I will talk about well-known or easy to find books about Yoga but today I wanted to talk about this little gem of a book. I found this book on a table of free books at the university and decided to pick it up because, hey it's a book about Yoga so I'm definitely keen to read it.

This book is such a good introduction to Yoga. There's really great colourful sections on so many different things. There was a section all about the chakras and what they mean and I thought it was the best explanation for beginner's that I have found so far.

There are sections on Yoga philosophy and the different types of Yoga. I felt like this book was just a better guide to beginning yoga than the Yoga for Dummies book was. It just had more simple explanations, the poses weren't dumbed down and it was in a nice format to look at. I'm just so impressed by this book I found on a free book table.

There were two things I wasn't a huge fan of in this book. The first was that for some of the poses it would have been better if the person was lying on a mat or standing on a mat because when you have a person surrounded by white it's hard to tell if they're lying or standing. The other thing was there was a list of healthy eating rules and one of them was don't eat food prepared in a microwave and it gave no explanation as to why this was the case and I just thought it was a strange thing to say.

I really liked The Beginner's Guide to Classic Yoga, I wasn't able to find copies online for purchase but if you ever see it anywhere when you're out and about I would definitely suggest picking it up because it's such a handy little guidebook.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Yoga Books: The Tree of Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar

Title: The Tree of Yoga
Published: Harper Thorsons, 2013 (First published 1988)

Synopsis: Iyengar developed a form of yoga that focuses on developing strength, endurance, correct body alignment, as well as flexibility and relaxation. The Iyengar method integrates philosophy, spirituality, and the practice of yoga into everyday living. In The Tree of Yoga, Iyengar offers his thoughts on many practical and philosophical subjects including family life, love and sexuality, health and the healing arts, meditation, death, and PataƱjali's Yoga Sutras.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading Light on Yoga, I decided that my next book should be another of Iyengar's. This time it's The Tree of Yoga. Light on Yoga is more about the poses and how to do them correctly and The Tree of Yoga is a collection of Iyengar's teachings on how to incorporate Yoga into every day life.

There are so many short little chapters that have so much information that I had to take the time to read a little bit and then let the information sink in. I like this approach when 'studying' Yoga books so this was good. I did find that the content of the book wasn't too heavy so it was a pretty straightforward read.

Iyengar provides insight into a lot of different areas including an explanation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. I haven't read that text yet but it will probably be something I get to soon. That being said, I felt as though I didn't necessarily need to have read the text to understand what was being said. I actually found it to be a really good summary of some of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras so am more interested in picking them up than I was before.

I definitely think that The Tree of Yoga is a good resource about incorporating Yoga into every day life. It goes into the philosophy behind Yoga and gives advice from the perspective of someone who actively lives a Yogic lifestyle in every aspect. Iyengar has so much to say about Yoga that I will be continuing my journey by reading more from him soon.

Where to purchase the book:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yoga Books: Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar

Title: Light on Yoga
Published: Schoken, 1995 (First published 1966)


Summary: The definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga--the ancient healing discipline for body and mind--by its greatest living teacher. Light on Yoga provides complete descriptions and illustrations of all the positions and breathing exercises.  (Taken from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: This is basically the must-read book on Yoga. On all of the sites I visited Light on Yoga is mentioned as a book that everyone should read to get a good solid knowledge of Yoga. And this is true. It really is a great resource.

The first part of the book explains a lot of the history and foundations of Yoga. It explains what it's about and all about Yoga philosophy. It's a lot to get your head around but if you take it in small doses it's really informative.

Then the majority of the book is a detailed description of the asanas or poses. Each one has accompanying pictures and it's really impressive just some of the poses that are out there and how B. K. S. Iyengar can manage to do them all so well. I also really like how some of the mythology of certain poses and how they got their names is featured in the book too. I'm always fascinated by information like that.

Towards the end of the book there's a section on how to create a routine and regular practice with a program that starts off for a beginner and then it moves on to intermediate and advanced stages after a certain number of weeks.

At the end of the book there is also a section with different ailments and a selection of Yoga poses to try for each one. I haven't tried any yet but it is certainly a handy resource.

In most Yoga circles this book is considered to be one of the must-read books and I completely agree. There is so much information in this book that I will definitely be going back to it on a regular basis. I will say that there is a lot of information in this book so it's a good idea to take your time with this one and just let the information soak in.

Where to purchase the book:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yoga Books: Yoga All-In-One For Dummies

Title: Yoga All-In-One for Dummies
Authors: Doug Swenson, Georg Feuerstein, LaReine Chabut, Larry Payne, Sherri Baptiste, Stephan Bodian, and Therese Iknoian
Published: For Dummies, 2015


Summary: Everything you need to make yoga an integral part of your health and well-beingIf you want to incorporate yoga into your daily routine or ramp up what you're already doing, "Yoga All-In-One For Dummies" is the perfect resource! This complete compendium of six separate titles features everything you need to improve your health and peace of mind with yoga, and includes additional information on, stretching, meditation, adding weights to your yoga workouts, and power yoga moves.

Yoga has been shown to have numerous health benefits, ranging from better flexibility and athletic performance to lowered blood pressure and weight loss. For those who want to take control of their health and overall fitness, yoga is the perfect practice. With "Yoga All-In-One For Dummies," you'll have everything you need to get started and become a master of even the toughest yoga poses and techniques. Find out how to incorporate yoga to foster health, happiness, and peace of mind. Get a complete resource, featuring information from six titles that are packed with tips. Use companion workout videos to help you master various yoga poses and techniques that are covered in the book. Utilize tips in the book to increase balance, range of motion, flexibility, strength, and overall fitness.  (Taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I usually enjoy reading the For Dummies books as they offer really good basic information about a topic. So, when I found this Yoga resource for dummies, I just had to read it as part of my quest to read as much about Yoga as possible. This book has six different Yoga books inside, there's a basic Yoga, Power Yoga, Yoga with Weights, Meditation, Stretching and Mind-Body Fitness. So there's a lot of information contained within this handy compendium.

Now, I know that the For Dummies books often have very basic information but I was disappointed with just how basic the information was. By the point of my reading this book I had been practicing Yoga for a couple of months and had already read two other books. I felt like the information in this book was a little too basic. Especially when it came to the poses. So, it would give the names of traditional poses but then it would give an even more modified version than teachers tended to give beginners. I didn't really understand why but I am no expert. I just thought that was a little odd.

I guess I just didn't particularly enjoy this book because I found it far too simplified. That being said, the meditation section was actually pretty good.  There are also some very handy pictures of people in the poses and if you're learning a pose through reading, good pictures are always helpful.

I think this book is probably best for those who know absolutely nothing whatsoever about Yoga as it really is only the very basic stuff.

Other information: Most Dummies guides come with a cheat sheet and some online resources to check out alongside the book. This cheat sheet is a good summation of the main points of the book.

Where to purchase the book: