Step-by-Step Yoga for Pregnancy is an excellent guide to all aspects of prenatal yoga, from physical postures to pranayama and meditation. Teasdill diStep-by-Step Yoga for Pregnancy is an excellent guide to all aspects of prenatal yoga, from physical postures to pranayama and meditation. Teasdill discusses the implications of pregnancy on yoga practice at each step of the way; she makes the poses fresh for those already familiar with yoga, and her warm tone is encouraging for new beginners without being overwhelming. This nicely illustrated book is appropriate for new students as well as experienced practitioners.
In chapter 1, Teasdill begins with an overview of how the body changes during pregnancy and how yoga can facilitate good health; chapter 2 discusses some yoga basics and describes how yoga can be beneficial in everyday life. Chapters 3-5 detail the physical asanas appropriate for each trimester, with drawings and descriptions of how and why to do each posture. Teasdill links the asanas in several sequences to accommodate different times of day or energy levels. As the pregnancy progresses, Teasdill focuses the chapter on a different aspect of yoga practice: pranayama in the first trimester (chapter 3), asanas in the second trimester (chapter 4), and meditation in the third trimester (chapter 5). She finishes the book with chapters 6 and 7, discussing labor and birth and life after the birth, respectively, including yoga postures to help heal the body after childbirth.
Teasdill explains clearly which poses are safe to do at which stage of pregnancy and offers plenty of options for modification or support with props like chairs and bean bags. For the spiritual side of prenatal yoga, Teasdill includes several nice guided meditations to foster relaxation and connection to the growing baby. Yoga teachers will find this book an excellent reference, and expectant mothers will appreciate Teasdill's expertise, guidance, and sensitivity....more
This interests me from a yoga perspective, since I've taught yoga to a couple of dancers and the way their bodies work is so utterly different from thThis interests me from a yoga perspective, since I've taught yoga to a couple of dancers and the way their bodies work is so utterly different from that of non-dancers....more
My father has had three spine surgeries to date, and as a yoga teacher, I've wondered what I could do to help him while at the same time fearing to daMy father has had three spine surgeries to date, and as a yoga teacher, I've wondered what I could do to help him while at the same time fearing to damage his back further. My friend Kyle recommended this book. Dr. Brownstein's program is one that a yoga teacher can really get behind, focusing not just on recovering from physical injury, but on the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of healthy living as well.
Dr. Brownstein begins the book by telling the story of his own struggles with debilitating back pain and his journey to recovery. His experiences give him a special understanding of what those with back pain are suffering. Because of his own search for healing, Dr. Brownstein has a unique perspective on how to heal from a back injury and prevent future problems.
Dr. Brownstein's program for healing is based on his concept of the mind/body connection, described in chapters 2 and 3. According to Dr. Brownstein, mental and emotional stress can result in an increase in muscle tension and tightness, leading to injury. Dr. Brownstein urges the reader not to overmedicate, or to leap ahead to treating back problems with surgery and other invasive techniques; rather, he advocates spending some time with the pain, to understand what's wrong and what the body is trying to communicate. It's important to understand how the back works physically, and chapter 2 describes back anatomy in detail so the reader will understand the structures and terminology and know how back pain can result from weakness, imbalance, or strain elsewhere in the body. But sometimes the best and most permanent solution to a back problem is to make changes to lifestyle and behaviors that cause stress.
This book covers the full lifestyle spectrum in Dr. Brownstein's approach to healing the back. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the physical body. Chapter 4 includes a wide variety of stretches for the back; most of these are taken from yoga asanas, and may are simple and gentle enough to be done in the midst of back pain and can lead to some relief when done properly. Dr. Brownstein outlines how to use these stretches, in the order he lists them and over time, to regain mobility and reduce pain. Once the back has been fully stretched and the pain is gone, the reader can move on to strengthening the back as described in chapter 5. Back muscles that are both flexible AND strong are less likely to be pulled or strained.
Chapters 6-10 cover stress management, healthy eating, work, play, and spirituality as they relate to back care and overall health. Dr. Brownstein takes a holistic approach based on his mind/body concept: since anxiety and stress can affect the body, causing muscle tension and contributing to injury, it's important to heal not only the body but also the mind, heart, and spirit to truly recover from a back problem. By reducing stress, reducing caffeine intake, improving one's outlook on work, opening the heart in personal relationships, and cultivating a sense of humor and fun, the reader can improve her overall health and happiness and remove many of the stressors that can lead to future back pain and injury.
I've never suffered from a chronic pain condition, so I can't comment on the book's usefulness for those actively in pain. However, as a yoga teacher, this book helped me to understand better the perspective of someone in that kind of pain and gave me some tools to help those future students. I plan to buy a copy of this book for my dad as well....more
I would love to read something real about tantra that doesn't involve descriptions of how Sting has sex for 22 hours straight. This looks like a likelI would love to read something real about tantra that doesn't involve descriptions of how Sting has sex for 22 hours straight. This looks like a likely candidate. Recommended by Heather's yoga teacher....more
Swami Vivekananda lived from 1863 to 1902 and is best known for his address at the Parliament of Religions in 1893, which helped to bring Hinduism toSwami Vivekananda lived from 1863 to 1902 and is best known for his address at the Parliament of Religions in 1893, which helped to bring Hinduism to the modern world as a major religion. Vivekananda wrote a number of books, some of which are based on his lectures, and Karma-Yoga is one of these. In this book, Vivekananda expands on the concept of Karma yoga as set out in the Bhagavad Gita. The copy that I read is borrowed from the library at the college where my husband works; it's a tiny little book, maybe 4" x 5", and only 143 pages, but Vivekananda's explication of Karma yoga really moved me and helped me to understand how the path of Karma yoga can work in my life. Because the book was published so long ago, you can read the whole thing online, so feel free to check it out! If you're interested in the topic, this book is well worth the time.
Vivekananda begins by providing an introduction to the concept of Karma and work. For Vivekananda, a person's character reflects that person's will, which is shown through their work. He states,
Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man. Great occasions rouse even the lowest of human beings to some kind of greatness, but he alone is the really great man whose character is great always, the same wherever he be (5).
Karma, or work/action, is the means by which we each build our character. Our actions, our work, build us into who we become: doing good works reinforces good character, and constantly doing evil work builds a bad character. Therefore it's possible for someone to change his character through his actions.
Vivekananda also discusses the motive for work: one shouldn't work for money or fame or even the results of our work, but simply for the work's sake. Removing selfish motives from our work builds self-control and character. He has a great passage on how the ideal person can find balance between a quiet, solitary spiritual practice and life in the world. Such a person can be in the middle of the densest city traffic and his mind will be as if he's in a cave by himself, and he's intensely working at all times.
Vivekananda describes how the concept of morality and duty varies greatly depending on the country or culture: what's considered right and moral in one country can be thought wrong and evil in another. Vivekananda argues that for this reason there can't be a universal morality or sense of duty, but that each person must act according to what is deemed right and good in his or her own culture. Vivekananda recommends that we try to view each person's actions through their own eyes rather than judging that person by our own standards of duty, especially when meeting people from another culture. If we view them by our standards, we may think they are acting wrongly or strangely, but if we try to understand their actions in the context of that person’s culture, we may see that the person’s actions are right and good to him. Every person should work to accomplish his own ideal, according to his own skills and abilities; if you take up someone else's ideals, you can never hope to make progress. He then explains that one person's duty isn't higher or lower than another person's; even working at hard physical labor can count towards spiritual progress if it's approached with the right attitude.
Vivekananda also discusses the idea of non-attachment. Each person must constantly work, because it's in our nature as human beings, but the only way to truly make our work count is to be unattached to the results of the work. Vivekananda compellingly describes how attachments affect the mind as well as how non-attachment relates to love, self-sacrifice, and charity, and how all of these come together: being able to love perfectly, without attachment, we are able to give freely of ourselves to others without worrying about how it will affect us. Vivekananda uses the powerful image of the grumbling worker: if you're grumbling and complaining about your work, that means you're attached to it; all your duties will seem distasteful and you'll never be satisfied. However, if you're able to do the work for the work's sake, without attachment, you'll find satisfaction and freedom.
Vivekananda states that no action can ever be completely good or completely bad: even the most kindly meant action can have negative consequences, and even the foulest evil act can result in some good. Because Karma results from every action, there's no way to attain perfection simply by doing good works, because each good work will also have some negative effect. This is where non-attachment comes in: you continue to work and strive to do good, but free yourself from attachment to the results of the action. You set yourself aside, removing all selfish wish for praise or reward, and do your duty because it's right to do your duty.
At the end of the book, Swami Vivekananda sums up his views on Karma yoga:
Karma-Yoga, therefore, is a system of ethics and religion intended to attain freedom through unselfishness and by good works. The Karma-Yogi need not believe in any doctrine whatever. He may not believe even in God.... He has got his own special aim of realising selflessness; and he has to work it out himself. Every moment of his life must be realisation, because he has to solve by mere work, without the help of doctrine or theory, the very same problem to which the Jnani applies his reason and inspiration and the Bhakta his love (131-2).
The Upanishads, translated by Eknath EaswaranThe Upanishads are a group of ancient wisdom texts. Each individual upanishad is named for the sage who dThe Upanishads, translated by Eknath EaswaranThe Upanishads are a group of ancient wisdom texts. Each individual upanishad is named for the sage who delivered its teaching, long ago; each one describes in flashes of insight how to explore your own consciousness, how to come closer to the Divine. Some of the upanishads take the form of a story: a student (or a wife, or even a king) implores a great sage (or even Death itself) to share holy secrets. Most of the upanishads rely on classic natural images - birds, trees, water - that make the metaphors timeless and appealing even thousands of years after they were written.
It's impossible to write an unbiased book review of a cherished spiritual text - how could I possibly critique the writing style or the structure of a book like this? So this review will be a little more personal. I loved The Upanishads. They called out to me in a way other spiritual books, including the Bible, just haven't. I expect to keep The Upanishads by my bed, read them again and again, consult different translations, flip through seeking guidance. It can be a difficult book, and I don't ever expect to understand it fully, but I loved it.
While the text itself is beyond critique, the translation and the version I can comment on. I really like Eknath Easwaran's translations (I also read his version of the Bhagavad Gita). Easwaran is well-versed in Sanskrit and in Hindu spirituality, and before becoming a spiritual teacher was an English professor, so he has all the tools to create both a beautiful and accurate rendition. Easwaran also writes the introduction, which I found helpful for putting The Upanishads in their historical context and setting the stage for the sort of text I was about to read (since when I started I really had no idea what I was getting into). This volume also includes a brief 2-3 page introduction before each upanishad, written by Michael Nagler. These I also found informative, and it was helpful to look as I read for the points that Nagler had called out as being important, but I think I would have preferred to read the upanishad first and then read Nagler's summary of it. Nagler also writes a lengthy afterword, which I did not find very useful. The end matter includes a glossary and a section of notes, which I didn't realize were there as I was reading the upanishads, and I think I'm glad I didn't know they were there - I'm the sort of person who will flip back and forth consulting the notes, and I'm glad I was able simply to experience the upanishads on this first read rather than analyzing them academically. There will be plenty of time to look at the notes and read other translations. The glossary might have been helpful a few times, though, and I imagine it would be very useful to someone who hasn't spent the past ten months up to her ears in yoga philosophy.
Overall, I would say that if you're new to Hindu spirituality, I wouldn't recommend starting with The Upanishads - the Bhagavad Gita is a much more accessible book for most people. For me, though, The Upanishads was more inviting, more enthralling than the Gita, and more accessible too. The first time I read the Gita I walked away thinking that it was nice and all but nothing great, and I needed the lectures and discussion of my yoga teacher training course to put the Gita's systems in context and help me understand what I was reading. With The Upanishads, I felt like I could really hear the sages speaking directly to me: faraway, murky, blurred voices, sure, but I could hear it. I look forward to listening again and again....more