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Paperback The Heart of Yoga : Developing a Personal Practice Book

ISBN: 0892815337

ISBN13: 9780892815333

The Heart of Yoga : Developing a Personal Practice

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Book Overview

Here is the first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to viniyoga-yoga adapted to the needs of the individual. The author is a world-renowned teacher and the son of Krishnamacharya.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Excellent all around yoga resource

I own a lot of books on yoga and this is one of my favorite introductions. What makes it particularly valuable is that it explains how to construct a practice. This allows the reader to intelligently use other resources and link his or her yoga practice to overaching physical, psychological and spiritual principles. I also found this volume to be well balanced. It covered a lot of ground and had a broad scope, but it was not overwhelming in any way. It really did a great job of covering the essentials of yoga philosophy, principles of joining breath with movement, connecting poses and varying poses. The book also contains a good introduction to pranayama and presents the basics of the bandhas. The material on the mental and moral application of yoga are also well done, but not over done. I also liked that the book included a pronunciation guide for Sanskrit and 60 pages of a translation of parts of the yoga sutras of Patanjali with insightful commentary. If you are looking for a book that explains how to do particular asanas, then this isn't your best choice although it does include a short section on Four General Practice Sequences. This book does NOT provide detailed instruction on how to perform particular asanas. For this, you might try 30 Essential Yoga Poses by Judith Lasater, Dancing the Body of Light by Dona Holleman (a must have) or Back Care Basics by Mary Pullig Schatz M.D. (don't let the title full you, it's a great general introduction to yoga, especially for people starting later in life). The Heart of Yoga will compliment any of the books above, which are not nearly as strong with respect to how to construct a yoga practice on your own.

Required reading for understanding yoga

I am dismayed that so many members think of yoga as part of a new age mentality that is the antithesis of religion or an alternative to any faith. "The Heart of Yoga" by Desikachar does much to dispel this myth. Yoga is not a religion, although for the vast part of its existence has been practiced by people who have adhered to Hinduism. Yoga is a comprehensive approach to mental and physical health, which may fall under the rubric of alternative health systems, but as it has existed for millennia, there is nothing "new" about its age. Desikachar's book discusses the history of yoga and its practicality for today. A copy of Patanjali's "Yoga Sutra" is included in the appendix of the book. The Yoga Sutra is a collection of inspirational maxims for how to approach life. In some of their writing they acknowledge one's connection to a divine entity, or a concept greater than our selves, but it never defines this entity or commands any sort of conceptualization for what many would refer to as God. Yoga is more than just a series of poses, which have gained popularity as an exercise fad. It is a philosophy that commands the respect of life and recommends dietary practices to purges the body of yama, which we could be referred to as toxins; the accumulation of which make a person prone to disease and mental anxiety. Poses also have therapeutic benefits in that they release hormones and antibodies in addition to toxins, by compressing, stretching, and releasing various glands and muscles of the body. Desikachar writes about the history of experienced yoga teachers, who did not design one series of yoga poses for every one, but looked at the needs of particular individuals and assigned poses based on their needs; such as did the person have trouble sleeping, digesting food, or a physical ailment that needed to be addressed. He offers suggestions for poses that can help address common maladies, as well as a series of poses that address the mot popular affliction that people from the modern world suffer. The book also spends much time on teaching the reader on how the physical practice can be spiritual; that one's approach or aversion to a particular pose may reflect a person's approach to challenges in life. One finishes the book learning how to make meditation out of movement; a practice which increase perception of ourselves and our environment.

Yoga is more complex then just poses. This book shows you!

This book is a great starting point for an understanding of yoga and what it really is. Yoga is more then just poses to get skinny. Yoga is a way to make you happier, healthy, and strong. If you start yoga in a class at a gym you will not learn as much as you could if read his book. Most yoga in the US is the non threatining version. An ex-aerobics instructor who took 20 hours of yoga teaching classes is not fit to teach the real yoga. This book is not trying to change your religion. Hindus are not expected to do yoga. Any god of your choice (or no god) will do. Yoga is a philosophy not a religion. This book gives you the why and the how. Holding poses is not yoga. You need this book to know why you do things in yoga. If you read this, your practice of yoga will be better and you will get 100 times more out of it. Buy the book before you buy any other yoga book.

How to understand yoga?

No introduction is needed for the author (son of famous yogacharya Sri T Krishnamacharya). I got interested in yoga after reading his series of articles in Indian magazines in late 1980s. First of all, this book is not an explanation of yoga poses (I recommend Light on Yoga for that). I first bought the book thinking its another book about yoga poses. But I was wrong. This book is exactly what the title says - how to develop a personal practice. The emphasise of the book is for the practitioner to observe himself/herself and see how he/she can augment the benefits of the poses. This is an invaluable and a very important step in learning yoga. Now, everytime I read it I find it throws more light on understanding yoga. I used to do yogic poses mechanically, but now I have a different perspective. The book really makes you think about an asana and how to improve yourself to benefit from it (the term for this is viniyoga). The emphasis is on gradually learning and enjoying each pose instead of hurrying to accomplish some asana. There are several tips for maximizing the benefits of asanas - for eg counterposes, developing breathing techniques by observing oneself etc. The explanation is lucid, the writing is so simple and effective. Several common questions are answered in Q & A format which is very helpful.The second part of the book contains Patanjali's yoga sutras in Sanskrit and followed by explanations in English. (Yoga sutras are the foundations of yogas in other words - the heart of yoga). The explanations are very simple and easy to understand.

Best translation of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.

This is an excellent book. Be advised that this book contains an incredible bonus - the best, and most understandable translation (actually a translation/interpretation) of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali that I have ever read. After years of searching for a translation that I could actually use in my personal practice, I am very grateful to have found this one. This alone is well worth the price of the book. Highly recommended.
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