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Yoga books - reviews

Yoga for Equestrians
A new path for achieving union with the horse
Linda Benedik & Veronica Wirth

As an experienced yoga teacher and the owner of eight horses, some of which I ride, I read this book primarily as part of some preliminary research I am doing for the yoga and horsemanship courses that we are running at our yoga retreat centre.
In contrast with other rider fitness programmes, yoga practice is holistic and develops both body and mind while being great for beginners. Yoga also increases body awareness, a key element in riding, because even if you are not aware of your body, the horse you are riding most certainly is. As your body awareness increases, you become able to communicate more efficiently and effortlessly with your horse. Furthermore, by helping to counteract the effect of stress on both body and mind, yoga helps to ensure a more pleasurable ride both for yourself and, presumably, for your horse.
Clearly, this book is written with newcomers to yoga in mind and presents in a clear and concise style a broad range of yoga techniques and concepts which will greatly benefit any equestrian taking up yoga with a view to improving their work with horses. The book would even constitute a good, clear introduction to yoga for someone with little interest or past experience with horses.
I personally object to the omission of the Sun Salutation sequence (Surya Namaskar) from the book. Surya Namaskar is an essential yoga technique, and considering the importance that the authors (rightly) place on yogic breathing, it should have been included in the section entitled “Developing the cadence of the breath”, which deals with way of integrating breath and movement. But in spite of this omission (which may be a choice rather than an oversight), the book is a worthy read. It is well researched, with useful quotes from various yoga and horsemanship authors illustrating the various points, as well as testimonials from riders. It is also very well written and conveys, at times eloquently, not just the techniques, but also the spirit of yoga.
One of the possible translations of the word “Yoga” is “Union”, and indeed this well written book is true to its promise and offers riders a path to a closer bond with their horses.

Book review by Christophe Mouze

Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis
by Georg Feuerstein

In an age when yoga is becoming a fashion accessory, placed amongst Pilates and circuit training in the "body beautiful" trend, this is a most welcome book.
In a world where hundreds of children are violently killed by the armies of "democratic" nations (as happened over Christmas in Gaza), this is an indispensable book.
In times like ours when lies, broken promises and corruption have become normalized within political and diplomatic circles, and when greed is considered a virtue in the corporate world, morality may however seem a quaint subject to many.

Two thousand years after Patanjali, the author, who has written more than thirty books on yoga and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost authorities on yoga, reminds us that yoga is first and foremost a spiritual pursuit, and that the backbone of any spiritual pursuit is morality.
Looking closely at the five key virtues or yamas (nonharming, truthfulness, nonstealing, nongrasping (greedlessness) and chastity) which constitute the first limb of hatha yoga philosophy, he details how they can be applied in today's rapidly changing world.
This book should appeal to genuine practionners of yoga, regardless of what style they practice or how much experience they have.

Reviewed by Christophe Mouze


Yoga posture adjustment and assisting
An insightful guide for yoga teacher and students
Stephanie Pappas
Trafford Publishing

Written by a very experienced teacher and teacher trainer, this book details teaching techniques for nearly 100 yoga postures. Stephanie makes a useful distinction between adjusting, which she describes as a short alteration or correction to the student's posture, and assisting, which involves helping a student to go deeper into an asana, and therefore lasts longer.
Packed with very valuable tips and practical advice, this book should be near the top of the reading list of anyone currently training to be a yoga teacher, and even experienced teachers will pick up new ideas from it.
It has, however, definitely been written with yoga teachers in mind, and yoga students would be better off getting a copy of Iyengar's "Light on yoga".
But it certainly should be on every yoga teacher's bookshelves. In the short time it's been on mine, I have found myself referring to it more than once.
Click here to order this book


The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The original Sanskrit by Svatmarama
English translation by Brian Dana Akers

A new, crisp, no nonsense translation of this great 14th century classic on the practice of Hatha Yoga. Unlike most other English translations, it includes the original Sanskrit, but no commentaries. The original text in its entirety, and 'nothing but' seems to have been the translator's motto for this work. This means that this translation also includes the controversial verses 84-103 of chapter 3, which, because they refer explicitly to Tantric sexual practices, are often left out by prudish - or less conscientious - translators.
If one, like me, holds that the work of the translator is to be as discreet as possible, then this very faithful translation is probably the best available. This is the kind of small book that I like to take with me in my travels, although unfortunately, while it is thin, it is too large a format to slip in one's pocket.

The publisher, also produces a version of the Gheranda Samhita, and, I am told, are working on the Siva Sahimta. Serious yoga students watch out, these are serious translations of serious classics.