It’s about that time when the New Year has lost its sparkle. When we might be in need of a little kick in the pants to motivate. Winter blahs? I’ve rounded up three of my fave new yoga books that will refresh your practice.
2,100 Asanas – The Complete Yoga Poses. I got this one at CostCo. Yep, CostCo. It called to me from the book pile, hypnotized me with the promise of 2,100 gorgeous poses, by gorgeous yogis clad only in white. This ambitious project is cleanly presented and well-organized, with some of the most creative twists I’ve ever seen, and variations I’ve never dreamed of (and I’ve done a lot of dreaming about yoga). Bound arms tip toe bound wheel pose? Lion pose dedicated to an avatar of Lord Vishnu in hero pose?? I have so much fun looking through it, and always want to jump down onto the floor to try something new. It’s great inspiration when you might be a tad bored with your practice. Obviously, this is not one to download on your Kindle. Get the old-fashioned, big bold hardcover that takes up space. Also check out my other fave coffee table yoga book, Jivamukti’s Art of Yoga.
Do Your OM Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life. Most books on the more esoteric topics such as chakras and koshas are not exactly scintillating reading. Most “modern yogis” don’t go there. But there comes a point when merely doing down dog in the latest from Lululemon isn’t enough. I’ve never been a believer in pushing the yoga tradition on people who aren’t ready to be interested in it – yoga is not about “converting” people. I’ve read the Bhagavad Gita in multiple yoga teacher trainings, and I’m never going to tell you that it changed my life. But I think that when we participate in a tradition that does in fact change our life – at some point we will want to delve deeper into everything about it. This book makes that accessible. Her cheeky tone is funny and relevant, with gems like, “Breath is spiritual espresso”.
My only complaint about this book is the subtitle; I think we have to be careful with this adjusting of ancient yoga practices to “fit your modern life”. It’s tempting to put our modern selves on a pedestal, and we’ve already made our yoga practices modern in many ways. It’s unavoidable. But let’s remember why we are so drawn to this practice – there is an utterly timeless quality to something that can benefit people for thousands of years. What this book does a good job with is helping us understand how every part of the practice, not just the asana, fits together to create a system of multiple layers that work synergistically. If you’re only exploring one of those, you’re missing out.
Yoga At Home: Inspiration for Creating Your Own Home Practice. Speaking of modern yogis, in America: this book gives you that taste of voyeurism our culture seems to crave, yoga-style. What do “celebriyogis” do on their mats, in their homes?
You might say, I do my yoga at my neighborhood studio, I don’t need to practice at home. As Sharon Gannon puts it, “You have to want to practice at home”. Taking yoga home with you is a pivotal part of your practice’s evolution, so don’t cheat yourself. It’s a whole new world on your mat. One of mindbodygreen’s 10 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2016 is seeing our homes as sanctuaries. I don’t know about you, but yoga is also my sanctuary.
What I liked about this book was that it wasn’t a bunch of glossy, staged home practices set up just for show. These are people who have dedicated their lives to the teachings of yoga, so of course their own practices will awe and inspire – but in the end, they too are human. They too struggle with the challenges of daily life, and balancing their yoga practice with other demands. It can be messy at times, and they don’t necessarily have a perfect yoga altar always at the ready (well, except for Shiva Rea). This one makes you want to roll out your mat smack dab in the middle of your living room, and bask in all its glory.