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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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The Power of Yoga by Vimla Lalvani (Basic Health Publications) Vimla Lalvani is an acclaimed yoga expert and teacher with several bestselling videos and books, including Yogacise, Classic Yoga, Yoga for Stress, and the Complete Book of Yoga. Now she looks at bringing the power of yoga into one's life using yoga for health, exercise, stress relief, and relaxation, feeling its effects on the body and the mind and spirit.  

The Power of Yoga is an instructional book with full color illustrations. For those who are new to yoga, there is an introduction that explains what yoga is and how it works, with basic techniques for posture, breathing, and the Salute to the sun. For those thinking about or needing exercises for health and fitness purposes, Lalvani provides a reference chart that identifies the particular yoga exercises and routines that are beneficial for toning particular muscles, relieving localized aches and pains, and alleviating stress-related disorders.  

Moving into the core of the book, she focuses on the power of yoga for:

  • Exercise, with a warm-up routine and exercises designed to improve general fitness levels, as well as work on individual fitness requirements, such as toning stomach muscles
  • Health, with routines that improve general health and well-being, while also working on special health needs, such as digestive ailments, back pain, and gynecological problems
  • Stress relief, mental balance, and relaxation, with exercises that bring about natural balance and harmony
  • Mind and spirit, with routines and basic meditation techniques that help clear mental clutter


The exercises are based on Hatha yoga for exercise and relaxation, and Kalari yoga for preparing the mind and body for meditation. The physical, mental, health and Ayurvedic benefits of each asana (yoga posture) are clearly explained; step-by-step pictures accompany the text, gently leading the reader through the routines. Pointers indicate particular things to watch out for that will maximize the results of the routines. And a Benefits panel elaborates on the routine's effectiveness in areas of fitness and health, both physical and mental.

Instructional and inspirational, The Power of Yoga brings Vimla Lalvani's expert coaching into one's home, presenting exercises and routines simply and clearly, with specific guidelines on what works best for migraines, insomnia, wrist problems, digestive disorders, lower back pain, cramps, metabolism, stress, and dozens of other conditions. Indeed, that's the power of yoga!

Yoga: A Yoga Journal Book by Linda Sparrowe, photos by David Martinez (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates) (PAPERBACK)is essentially a commercial work of art that deserves special mention on at least two counts: its size and its stunning photography. Yogas 5,000-year tradition is rich and varied, and has always evolved to meet the needs of the culture it serves. Ever increasing numbers of people come to the practice and encounter its many benefits: the union of opposites; an understanding of the effect of the outside world on the body; a significant reduction in stress; a path to liberation; and the discovery of ones true self. Above all else, yoga has been and continues to be about the process of transformation. Linda Sparrowe discusses yogas roots in the sacred texts and provides a look at the 20th-century yogis who brought it to the West Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Indra Devi, and B. K. S. Iyengar, to name a few. Her essay is a well wrought introduction to the ancient and contemporary developments in yoga practice. Four hundred artful posture-illustrating photographs of the most famous yoga practitioners, including Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden, Sharon Gannon, David Life, and Richard Freeman, pull the reader ever closer to this powerful practice.

This is a big book: Its size and weight, 8 lbs. and 11"x14" and 2" thick, cloth binding and quality of paper. Unfortunately the binding is not quite strong enough for this format and signatures tended to become loose. The true beauty of this book, however, is in its photography and the poses of the models. Photos are arranged according to types of poses, such as standing, backbends, balance, recline, etc. The models all do a splendid job in assuming these difficult asanas. Only the classic names of the asanas (poses) are listed with the photos. The models are well known American yogis such as Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden and also lesser Known yoga teachers such as Darhma Mittra, who shows and exceptional ability to balance, and Lauren Peterson displays such astute grace and beauty, Maia Heiss whose flexibility is truly astounding, Ana Forest displays concentrated strength and lighted hearted humor, David Life and Richard Feeeman both display a flexibility and postures of such extreme complexity I wince to see them. The models are identified near the end of the book. It is obvious this title will inspire intermediate yoga students, though I would be loath to try them myself. This volume documents the Westernization of Yoga as many of thes postures are modern inventions and have as much to do with western athleticism as Yoga tradition. All told Yoga is fabulous for the skillful photography that captures the artistry of these masters at work.

THE AMERICAN YOGA ASSOCIATION BEGINNER’S MANUAL by Alice Christensen ($15.00, paperback spiral bound, 203 pages, Simon and Schuster Books; ISBN: 0671619357) Alice Christensen has been teaching yoga since 1960. She offers a very balanced health-wise approach that stresses easy increments and gentle way to approach ourselves as whole persons rather than just stiff bodies. Yoga is shown to be a incredibly adaptable discipline. It is a perfect candidate for any level of focused exercise.  Yoga strengthens the body and calms the mind, then offers a pleasingly straightforward guide to developing an efficient yoga exercise. All of the routines are designed to decrease stress and increase balance, strength, flexibility, and energy, but many are aimed at easing specific discomforts, such as PMS, back and neck problems, asthma, high blood pressure, and weight problems. This is a sound and practical introduction to yoga, an path to health and well-being that is attracting more interest than ever.

THE EASY DOES IT YOGA TRAINER'S GUIDE by Alice Christensen ($21.95, paperback, spiral bound, 112 pages, American Yoga Association; ISBN: 0787211907)  Christensen, founder of the American Yoga Association, explains how Yoga teachers should encourage a gentle and harmless approach to Yoga disciplines. That this is in the deeper spirit of Yoga.

20-MINUTE YOGA WORKOUTS by Alice Christensen, ($12.95, paperback, Ballantine Books, ISBN: 0345388453) A common excuse for not exercising is lack of time, even though many doctors recommend the practice and countless studies bear out the beneficial effects of short workouts done on a regular basis. This easy-to-understand book will teach anyone how to have a stronger body, more energy, better concentration, and less stress by performing powerful Yoga breathing exercises, gentle Yoga warm-ups, classic Yoga postures, and deep relaxation and meditation. After an informative introductory section, a variety of 20-minute routines are presented with step-by-step instructions and photographs as well as tips on how to fit a yoga practice into a busy schedule and how to get the most out of each session. With about 150 "how-to" photos this book shows how to integrate YOGA into ones life.

THE AMERICAN YOGA ASSOCIATION’S NEW YOGA CHALLENGE: Powerful Workouts for Flexibility, Strength, Energy, and Inner Discovery by Alice Christensen ($15.95, paperback, 192 pages, 172 photos. 9 illustrations, NTC/Contemporary Publishing, ISBN: 0809231751)

This volume is for intermediate students of yoga in that it goes beyond the basics to provide a dynamic, intensive series of workouts. Each of its seven suggested routines targets a specific goal, such as strength, energy, focus, concentration, or increased flexibility. The routines include new breathing and meditation techniques.

YOGA AND YOU: Energizing and Relaxing Yoga for New and Experienced Students by Esther Myers ($17.00, paper, 244 pages, photos, line drawings, bibliography, glossary, index, Shambhala, ISBN: 1-57062-320-1) Whether one is new to yoga, returning to it, or want to enhance an ongoing practice, YOGA AND YOU is an useful companion on one’s journey. One of Canada’s leading yoga teachers, Esther Myers brings more than twenty years of teaching experience to help us integrate this ancient wisdom into contemporary life.

With clear step-by-step instructions for over one hundred poses and with photographs and illustrations throughout, YOGA AND YOU guides us from relaxation and breathing techniques through a comprehensive set of poses, including the most basic as well as advanced and challenging positions. Filled with helpful hints and tips, YOGA AND YOU provides ideas for adapting the poses to your needs and abilities. Also included are suggested practice sequences for students of all levels. This is a definitely mainstream introductory book to hatha yoga.


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