And it felt like a winter machine That you go through and then You catch your breath and winter starts again And everyone else is spring bound And w
And it felt like a winter machine That you go through and then You catch your breath and winter starts again And everyone else is spring bound And when I chose to live There was no joy It's just a line I crossed It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost So I was not lost or found --Dar Williams, 'After All'
Reasons to Stay Alive is a sort of memoir, a sort of letter-to-self, a bit of a self-help book. It talks frankly about depression and anxiety, trying to put into words the sensations it can cause, the extent to which each is beyond simply feeling sad or worried. Most of the chapters are short; some seemed more useful than others. Some of it might help with understanding a loved one who has depression or anxiety, or any mental health issue, because Haig is a writer and knows how to communicate, and has been there feeling this. Some of it might be helpful in dealing with these kinds of feelings for yourself.
The thing I’ve found is that mostly, people with depression aren’t able to hear this sort of story. I certainly couldn’t. People could tell me until they were blue in the face that it could get better, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the fog would lift, etc, etc. I totally get the urge to share that understanding with people who don’t have it yet, but I’m not sure it works.
But if it does, even once, then it’s worth saying, so here’s my voice too: it can get better. No matter how scared or despairing or fucked up you feel, you can come back out of it. You’re never going to be the person you were before the depression, but you can be a new person who has learnt to cope with it, who has good times again.
I’ve been scared again, even desperately so, since I began to get better from my GAD. The important thing was that hard won knowledge that my brain was lying to me and it is possible to be okay again. I believe that for me, I believe that for Matt Haig, and I believe it for you, too, even when you can’t.
Quirky? Not quite, I think. Overall, this came across as a relatively non-mystery-making, level headed look at practicing yoga, with a sceptical eye tQuirky? Not quite, I think. Overall, this came across as a relatively non-mystery-making, level headed look at practicing yoga, with a sceptical eye toward stuff like chakras and the like, but an attempt to understand the roots of the practice. There are obvious things that make the author an unusual yogi, at least: I’m pretty sure getting your fat lasered away is not something yoga really encourages. Working towards a better body, yeah; hating the one you’re in and going for drastic measures to change it, not so much.
So for quirky, read ‘sceptical and very Western’, but there is useful information here about the types of yoga. For example, from what she says here I’m inclined to avoid Bikram yoga, but encouraged to look into Iyengar yoga — there is some advice on what might suit you and how to choose a teacher.
Overall, you can get the same information from looking online, really; certainly none of it was really new to me. I’m not entirely sure why I bought it, since the last thing we need is another Western woman extolling the virtues of taking what you want from other cultures… Curiosity, partly, I guess; what the heck makes a quirky yogi? I still don’t really know the answer to that, but at least she’s not a ‘holier than thou’ yogi....more
Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole is a really fascinating book. It's a little fictionalised, so we get dialogues and little portraits of character, enoughReaching Down the Rabbit Hole is a really fascinating book. It's a little fictionalised, so we get dialogues and little portraits of character, enough that we can care about the cases discussed. Dr Ropper is pretty much everything an ideal doctor should be: knowledgeable, capable of acting fast, capable of explaining complex processes clearly, intuitive, willing to listen, willing to admit he's wrong... At every stage, he emphasises to the reader and to the residents he's teaching that each case is individual, that the right answer for one person isn't the right one for the next, and so on.
There are a couple of very good chapters on Parkinson's and ALS, some fascinating things like the fact that an ovarian teratoma can cause seizures and all sorts of neurological symptoms, etc. At every turn, it demonstrates the complexity of the brain, the limits of our understanding.
What nearly spoiled it all for me was the fact that Ropper really does revert to talking about hysteria. When I quoted a section to my mother, a psychiatrist, she texted back to ask if the book was written in 1899 -- that's how out of date that section seems. For the most part, he even seems sympathetic to these patients, which is more than I can say for a lot of people who dismiss hysteria/psychosomatic illnesses/conversion disorder, etc. But in this case there seems to be a barrier in his thinking: he sees a young woman with a teddy bear, and he immediately chalks it up to hysteria. Whatever her symptoms: hysteria is the answer. Sure, he dresses it up as "conversion disorder", but what he means is still pretty much the Victorian hysteria. He uses that term as a direct synonym for conversion disorder, psychosomatic problems, etc.
And it's exactly that attitude that makes life difficult for people who have mental illnesses, insight and even a glimpse of the way that people are going to look at them. If I'm going into a doctor's office with some problem, I prepare myself for the inevitable questions about my levels of anxiety, my depression during the last few weeks, is there anything at home I'm struggling with... Because there's a diagnosis of GAD and depression right there in my file, I know that nine out of ten doctors will listen to my symptoms and hear only psychosomatic. And some of those will even blame me for that -- me, the thinking rational person -- even though I could no more help it than I could pick the stars out of the sky.
I started having horrible stomach pains in 2010, my second year of university, at the same time as I started a pretty steep descent into anxiety. Doctors were reasonably sympathetic, but continually told me that what was happening to me, whatever it was, just happened because of my anxiety. Here's a pill, take it and everything will go away. And I believed them: the pain had to be in my head, because I have an anxiety disorder. I knew they wouldn't believe in the pain and so I didn't either.
Even at the point where my physical symptoms were completely blatant, when you could do a physical exam and precisely locate the source of the pain, my GP was reluctant to send me for an ultrasound because, in his opinion, I was probably just stressed about my master's degree. He repeatedly asked if I was happy, if I was sure I was doing the right thing in my career, while I was trying to ask for pain relief. When eventually I pushed hard enough, he sent me for an ultrasound, warning me that I was wasting everyone's time.
My gallbladder was packed with stones, and the only option was to remove it.
At one point in this book, Ropper discusses signs and symptoms. Symptoms are what the patient reports; signs are what the physician observes. Don't stop listening to the symptoms just because you think you can see the signs. Don't get blinded to one thing because another has already been diagnosed....more
I didn't read this from cover to cover, as I've read other books like it before. My main interest was in seeing how solid the scientific basis of thisI didn't read this from cover to cover, as I've read other books like it before. My main interest was in seeing how solid the scientific basis of this is -- one of the authors has a PhD, but I could have a PhD in literature, which would by no means qualify me to speak on neuroscience -- and how helpful I thought it might be for other people who end up in the same position I've been in. The good news is, from my knowledge of science and my intimate knowledge of anxiety disorders, there's a lot here that's useful. It doesn't just focus on targeting the conscious part of anxiety generated by the cortex -- which people often try to target on its own, with CBT -- but also acknowledges the contribution of the amygdala.
Generally, it seems a sympathetic and credible book that someone with curiosity and determination could work through to help cope with anxiety, whether it's a full blown disorder or just something that crops up more often than you'd like. It's not an exhaustive reference book of information mentioning every single disorder, every single type of medication, but it is somewhere to start. And it quite rightly encourages the reader to get the help of medical professionals, and it doesn't dismiss the uses of medication....more
I didn't expect to connect so personally with this. On the surface, there's not much to compare between me and Susannah Cahalan. There are a few correI didn't expect to connect so personally with this. On the surface, there's not much to compare between me and Susannah Cahalan. There are a few correspondences: the start of her illness was marked with an intense fear, almost a belief, that she'd been infested by bedbugs; so was mine. On the other hand, I "just" had GAD: Susannah Cahalan had an autoimmune disorder in which her own immune system was attacking her brain. (She does mention some speculation that obsessive-compulsive behaviours and other psychiatric issues may actually be attributable to inflammation of the brain similar to what she experienced. The more I think about that, the more I want to become a doctor, maybe work in psychiatry, or maybe neurology, and push that research further. And research into epigenetic aspects of mental illness. Or at least get to the point where I can understand all of the existing research.)
(And sotto voce, I can almost hear my mother's comment: "Well, you should be a doctor.")
Anyway, despite the vast differences in the actual content of our diseases, I shared some of Cahalan's feelings about it. I felt like I lost part of myself, the steady logical voice that refutes the brain's wilder ideas about what's going on, and though Susannah lost a lot more than that, I know something about the struggle to regain your own mind. I think people often believe that my anxiety was just an emotion like all my others. It wasn't, though. It felt stronger than anything else, stronger than me. It felt like something from outside of me, subjugating the real me. It was like having another person physically holding me back, sometimes. The sheer courage it took me to step outside the front door, sometimes -- it felt impossible, alien.
So I shared with Cahalan some of the feelings of getting my old self back. Self-hate at the things that still aren't going right. Worry about what people will think of you. Celebration of tiny steps at the same time as feeling they're not enough, you're not there yet. Wonder at how far you've come. Worry that you'll relapse. I very directly share that fear Cahalan feels when she thinks she sees a bug or something. My brain conjured 'em where there weren't any, too.
I was expecting to find this interesting because of the medical content. That is interesting, though because it's from Cahalan's point of view, it's more of a layman's understanding of the disease, a memoir of dealing with it. I found it unexpectedly much more compelling than that, because Susannah Cahalan lost and regained her identity, and therefore has a lot to say about the whole idea of identity, and maybe some things to teach neuroscience, maybe even psychiatry.
The financial cost of treating a patient with Cahalan's disease is staggering, eye-watering, jaw-dropping -- there aren't enough adjectives. But to bring someone back from that state, that's beyond price....more
This didn't really work for me as a history of medicine, even a short one. Each chapter treads the same ground, but with a different theme, instead ofThis didn't really work for me as a history of medicine, even a short one. Each chapter treads the same ground, but with a different theme, instead of following the history of medicine through chronologically.
That's not to say it wasn't interesting in places, and I liked the inclusion of so many images to go along with the text, but it didn't feel like there was anything to get my teeth into. I felt like it would have been much better done chronologically, even if it was in broad swathes of time: 'early societies', 'the Classical world', 'medieval Europe', 'British empire', etc. Something like that would've worked a lot better for me.
Also, I know he says up front that he's not even going to touch on Eastern medicine, but considering the way we've imported alternative medicines as a commodity here, it would actually be relevant to talk about their development and give them some more credit....more
I never actually finished reading this, because by the time I was halfway through, I was actually getting better. I'm returning it to the library nowI never actually finished reading this, because by the time I was halfway through, I was actually getting better. I'm returning it to the library now because I think it may be useful for other people, and right now, I don't need it.
That said, I did find a lot of comfort from reading Ingham's assurances that you can get better, and will gladly add my voice to that. The prognosis for someone with panic attacks improves if you know from the start that you can get better, and I'm here to assure you that you can. As my counsellor pointed out, I may always be an anxious person, and that means I have to work a little harder, but it's possible. See also my Mental Health Awareness Month post for more about my personal journey.
The book itself is easy to read and encouraging, without minimising the fear you may feel if you have panic attacks. I had quite a few pages bookmarked in the half that I read. But really, like I already said, I think the most important thing was that it told me I could get better, when I wasn't hearing that from a lot of people. And it told me I wasn't alone....more
This was... intriguing. It had something of the voyeuristic sense about it, too: you're getting a glimpse into anonymous people's lives that only theyThis was... intriguing. It had something of the voyeuristic sense about it, too: you're getting a glimpse into anonymous people's lives that only they and their psychoanalyst have ever seen. The stories are simply written and well structured, and I don't doubt that the book was written with good intentions and a genuine passion and interest.
I still find myself torn by it, though. I'm not sure I like that sense of complicitness in being a voyeur, the fact that I didn't know if he'd even asked these patients' permission to publish these stories until I finished reading it. On the other hand, he has some interesting insights, and there's a lot of pathos and tenderness here.
Ultimately, I don't know enough about the field to really make any judgements. This review is a very interesting one in terms of evaluating the wider context a bit....more
I pretty certainly have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). I score 19/21 on the GAD 7 test, even medicated. According to this book's tests, I get 80/I pretty certainly have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). I score 19/21 on the GAD 7 test, even medicated. According to this book's tests, I get 80/80 on the Penn State worry questionnaire, indicating GAD; 39/72 on their OCD test, which indicates OCD as well; 46/88 for a single traumatic event on their PTSD test, where 30 and above indicates probable PTSD.
So that probably tells you why I read this. Another person with GAD recommended it to me: it explores the physiological/genetic/environmental/sociological understanding of GAD, more or less from an outsider's point of view, thereby offering a reasonably academic and detached perspective. For me, this is helpful. I got really sucked in to wondering about the techniques for treating anxiety disorders, trying to apply the conclusions to things I'm familiar with...
For example, people with GAD will often try to avoid the situations that make them feel anxious, but that only enhances their fear of those situations because they never actually experience them to find out that they can live through them, that it wasn't so bad after all. People in fandom often (though not always, and not exclusively in fandom) provide "trigger warnings", enabling people to avoid things that commonly cause people anxiety and distress. E.g. warning for discussion of rape. One my friends usually warn me of in advance is cancer, or bugs. Anyway, so is that actually causing further harm, in the long run, by unduly insulating the person? I always used to think that it would cause more harm for someone to be triggered, not be in any way helpful, but this book suggests -- the research suggests -- that actually, avoidance of triggers makes them worse.
Still, I know first-hand that triggers really can be distressing, can cause harm of their own on top of the existing fear. So I remain pro-trigger warnings: they're a valuable way for people to ensure that they don't encounter something distressing without support and the choice to do so. ERP therapy is valuable not because of the exposure to the trigger alone, but because it is done in a controlled environment by someone who knows what they're doing, and by the patient's choice, it's different to just saying "you've got to man up and face your fears".
Anyway, I think it's helpful, speaking as a person with anxiety, for understanding what's happening to me and why. I think it would also be helpful for people who don't understand what anxiety is, who might be inclined to dismiss it as "all in the mind", but reluctant to actually do so. It identifies a lot of causes and contributing factors, and makes reference to a lot of studies. Additionally, for those who have some form of anxiety but aren't sure whether it qualifies as a disorder, there's several different tests in the back for evaluating how likely it is that your anxiety is severe enough to be considered a disorder.
It's a basic book, of course, probably not useful to anyone with degrees in psychology or even just plain medicine. But I found it both interesting and helpful....more
Got this in the Kindle sale, since I'm doing something similar off my own bat, to see if there were any ideas. It's pretty USA-centric, and pretty preGot this in the Kindle sale, since I'm doing something similar off my own bat, to see if there were any ideas. It's pretty USA-centric, and pretty predictable -- get enough sleep, cut out saturated fats, manage your budget, etc, all the usual suggestions for avoiding stress and living a healthier life -- but it does come with handy charts and stuff, and if you need a good structure, it should help. Some of the 'extra credit' suggestions were handy....more
I've been doing mindfulness-related stuff -- meditation, yoga -- for a long time, but I'd never read specifically about mindfulness. If you've done yoI've been doing mindfulness-related stuff -- meditation, yoga -- for a long time, but I'd never read specifically about mindfulness. If you've done yoga and meditation before, there's very little new in it, but it's a helpful reminder to slow down and really taste, touch, smell, hear, see things. It's an easy read -- as befits an introductory, practical guide -- and easy to absorb, with lots of practical advice and careful explanation of what you're "meant" to do.
Since it's practical, it's very unfluffy about it -- if you feel like mindfulness/meditation/etc is kind of a hippy thing to do, this probably won't dissuade you at first glance, but it doesn't make it sound mystical or anything like that....more
I had a copy of this book when I was little, and I've missed it ever since. With my recent diagnosis of asthma (as if it wasn't obvious since I was aI had a copy of this book when I was little, and I've missed it ever since. With my recent diagnosis of asthma (as if it wasn't obvious since I was a child) my parents tracked down a copy and bought it for me, to cheer me up. It's a very simple little story designed to teach kids about when and how to use their inhalers, and to encourage them with the idea that once asthma is controlled, you can live very normally as long as you remember to take your medication. The art is cute and colourful -- I don't have a very good visual memory, but it stuck with me all these years.
Definitely made me smile, and though I'm not that easily reassured, I still feel slightly better about my current struggle with breathing....more
Entertaining and a surprisingly breezy read, The Psychopath Test is a somewhat rambling and ultimately non-conclusive record of an investigative journEntertaining and a surprisingly breezy read, The Psychopath Test is a somewhat rambling and ultimately non-conclusive record of an investigative journey into the mental health industry, conspiracy theories and scientology. The author meets some very interesting people -- about whom you can form your own conclusions: I was never exactly happy about Bob Hare.
I enjoyed reading it, but oddly I'm not sure I can recommend it. Looking back at it, there's not much substance, and isn't as hilariously funny as the blurb and reviews on the back would have you believe -- then again, I don't think it was a waste of time either....more
Every ten runs, I get to buy a book from my local indie bookshop. This is my first. According to the site I use to track, I've now run twenty miles toEvery ten runs, I get to buy a book from my local indie bookshop. This is my first. According to the site I use to track, I've now run twenty miles total in the last month.
When I got in the bookshop, I couldn't actually decide what to get. I dithered over some Arthuriana, some historical fiction, Kazuo Ishiguro, something with dragons... And then I saw the little row of Haruki Murakami's books. They always make me a little curious; I've read one of his books before, read the first chapters of a couple of others, but I've never got into it. But the memory of the existence of this particular book was already hovering in my mind, since my running partner and I had literally stopped running only fifty metres up the road.
I'm not a distance runner, yet, but Haruki Murakami made me want to be. I'm twenty-two years old, and he's got me completely, utterly beaten in terms of fitness. I want to someday say, oh, I only did thirty minutes running today, and have that genuinely be not that much of an achievement (at present, my housemate and I are steadily pushing through Couch to 5k in preparation for a 5k run for charity, which seems a big enough goal to us). I want to start cycling and swimming and see if a triathlon will work out for me. And I guess Haruki Murakami kind of gave me the confidence that I can do it, if I'm only determined enough, if I just want it enough and work hard enough.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running isn't just about running. It's about writing, and working, and growing older, reaching your limits. It's, like he says in the foreword and afterword, a memoir. I don't know how much you'll get out of it if you're not interested in running and/or writing, but I found it interesting.
Unfortunately, it still hasn't pushed me out of my strange inertia when it comes to reading Murakami's other work......more
I was in a bit of a funk this evening. A lot of a funk, actually. I got my first MA essay results back, and I wasn't happy with them. At all. And I blI was in a bit of a funk this evening. A lot of a funk, actually. I got my first MA essay results back, and I wasn't happy with them. At all. And I blamed everyone else for how horrid I felt. And then I stumbled on this tucked away in the recesses of my Kindle: I read Loving What Is a while ago. I don't remember picking this up, but I do remember finding Byron Katie's work powerful and helpful, even if I didn't agree with it.
A lot of the issues I wasn't happy with in Loving What Is seem to be addressed here. I felt more comfortable with it, anyway. There is one part where she essentially says that for a woman to stay with a man who hits her, she's hurting herself through his fists. I don't think she means that a woman who stays with a man who hits her is hurt through her own fault; she's saying that the woman doesn't leave that relationship because of the things she's telling herself, which might include the idea that she deserves it. Something within herself is holding her back from leaving -- fear, self-hatred, whatever -- and that isn't her fault. It just is.
I can see how that would make people uncomfortable, and how it is victim blaming in a sense. But there's something empowering in realising that a lot of what is holding you back is you, yourself.
This book is mainly about relationships, and given that I have a lot of issues with friendship and family, I think it's probably been quite helpful. The idea of the turnaround is maybe the best part. I was upset because my mother was disappointed in me -- the original thought. I was upset because I was disappointed in me -- a turnaround: I'd expected better, I'd wanted to be perfect first time round, I couldn't accept that my mark was still perfectly acceptable, even good. Another turnaround: I wasn't upset because my mother was disappointed in me -- that's just the way she is, and I love her the way she is. She can't be any other way.
And maybe the most true: my mother isn't disappointed in me. When I think about it, she might not like my low marks, but she read the essays and thought they were wonderful. She does believe in me, she thinks I can do no wrong. She probably thinks that the markers were stupid for not understanding my line of argument.
"The Work", as Byron Katie calls it, doesn't solve things all in one go. But even just stopping and asking yourself if a thought is true and then turning it around to see other things that might be true, once in a while, can really help....more
"Just as the Big Bang theory is far more interesting than the creation story in Genesis, so the story that science can tell us about the natural world"Just as the Big Bang theory is far more interesting than the creation story in Genesis, so the story that science can tell us about the natural world is far more interesting than any fable about magic pills concocted by an alternative therapist." Well, no. Stories are important. They tell us what people's preoccupations are, what people want and what they're scared of. Scientifically, Goldacre's right -- but science isn't the only thing to be concerned about. I'm sure he'd think this reaction typical of an arts student who has a belief system that, wishy-washy, may or may not involve a god, and who rather defends people's right to believe whatever damn fool thing they want to as long as they don't force it upon me. That's very much Goldacre's style -- flippant, funny, but at the core you get the sense that he'd like to hit you over the head with the book to batter the concepts into you. Science Is The Only Thing. If You Can't Test It, It Isn't Real.
For what he's talking about -- "brain gym", which I was subjected to, for example, or homeopathy -- he's totally right, but the way he talks just sets my teeth on edge. I'm quite sure we couldn't get on if we got onto questions with subjective answers. So yeah, his writing about science is good, and perfectly clear to a relative layman (I did a biology AS level, and my mother's a doctor, though), but something about his attitude just narks me.
I mean. "The people who run the media are humanities graduates with little understanding of science, who wear their ignorance as a badge of honour. Secretly, deep down, perhaps they resent the fact that they have denied themselves access to the most significant developments in the history of Western thought from the past two hundred years..."
That's a direct quote from Goldacre. And watch! I can do it too: "The people who [write books like Bad Science] are [science graduates] with no understanding of [the important things in life], who wear their ignorance as a badge of honour. Secretly, deep down, perhaps they resent the fact that they [do not understand the power of stories, and resent their limitation of thinking that Western thought is the pinnacle of human achievement]."
Oh, and SSRIs: to be honest, I do subscribe to the theory that if they work for me, I'd rather not question it. (And they do. I haven't reacted to them in the exact way I'd been told I would: I had no side-effects, for example, and they began to work fairly quickly. Within a couple of weeks, all the major symptoms of my depression were gone, and though I wept when my grandfather died while I was on antidepressants, my feelings were in proportion to the event, unlike when my dad's mother died and I took to my bed for a week. I have not experienced any increase in anxiety, or that much trumpeted criticism that SSRIs make people want to kill themselves.) So I'm probably too biased to accept a word that Goldacre says on the subject, even forgetting the fact that a close relative has done research into antidepressants and I typed up their results! Of course it would be galling to accept that SSRIs are rubbish and I've been duped. But still, even trying to keep my own bias in mind, that doesn't sit right with me.
I wonder -- has Goldacre written anything about his own biases? My humanities degree has at least taught me that no one acts without some kind of stimulation. If you're looking at post-colonialism in literature, it's probably because the theory speaks to you (in my case, because I'm Welsh and some postcolonial theory can be applied; for others it's the issue of kyriarchy, the way that all kinds of things intersect, so that racism sometimes looks and acts a bit like sexism or homophobia, and so the theory can be applied elsewhere). If you're a feminist, you can find sexism in every text you read (and I'm not saying it isn't there, or you don't experience it as there). More harmlessly, perhaps, I'm a lover of Gawain, and I can interpret any given text as sympathetic to Gawain based on the social mores of its time -- or it's a shitty book, of course.
So yeah, watching Ben Goldacre froth in this book made me sort of want to know why it's so important to him. That's a bit of an ad hominem attack on his work, I suppose, but I do wonder how careful Ben Goldacre is to make sure he doesn't just find the results he's looking for, as he accuses other people of doing, or if he assumes that because he's debunking it in other people, he's immune....more
I was recommended this by my counsellor. I was very unsure about it because a lot of reviews suggested it includes a lot of victim blaming -- and thisI was recommended this by my counsellor. I was very unsure about it because a lot of reviews suggested it includes a lot of victim blaming -- and this is, in a sense, true: Byron Katie's theory is essentially that we are always the ones causing ourselves pain. She does tell a woman to figure out what part her nine year old self had in her own rape, what she did 'wrong'.
That sounds very discomforting, but I think I see why she does it. When you've had some kind of trauma, there's often a question of what you could've done to prevent it. Maybe you let someone do something bad to you because you were frightened. You can believe almost totally that you couldn't have escaped the situation, but you still have that lingering shard of doubt -- and that could be a way in to learn to recover from it, starting with forgiving your own perceived complicity.
I don't think Byron Katie is 100% right. I found her attitude a little arrogant at times, and condescending. But the basic ideas can be useful and provide a way to logically see how you can better a problem by controlling your part in it. Likewise, it asks you to accept the past as it was, because that's the only way it can be -- you can't change it, only the way you relive it in your mind.
I would say, read this with caution, if you do read it. Aspects of it were useful for me, but I'm still uncomfortable about other aspects....more
Handy little thing, but by virtue of it being so little, quite limited. A couple of poses I wanted to look up weren't in here at all. It has a lot ofHandy little thing, but by virtue of it being so little, quite limited. A couple of poses I wanted to look up weren't in here at all. It has a lot of information on what yoga is and why people practice it, but not many poses. One handy thing it has is a little box suggesting the benefits of each separate pose, and also who shouldn't do the pose (e.g. people with high blood pressure, people with wrist injuries, etc)....more
Handy little introduction. I used it as a supplement to youtube videos and sites like Yoga Journal, and I don't think it really stands alone as more tHandy little introduction. I used it as a supplement to youtube videos and sites like Yoga Journal, and I don't think it really stands alone as more than an introduction, but if you're a little curious about yoga, it isn't too expensive or scary. It's available free (or very cheap, anyway) on the app store for iPod Touch, etc, too....more
This book contains four suggested workouts for different needs/different times of day. The workouts do seem gentle -- perhaps a bit too gentle for meThis book contains four suggested workouts for different needs/different times of day. The workouts do seem gentle -- perhaps a bit too gentle for me in general, but good to wind down on an evening or after longer, more difficult practices. The photographs are clear, and modifications are clearly demonstrated, in the book; I haven't yet tried the accompanying DVD. The book has a lot of helpful information and tips, and each workout has some focus on breathing and relaxation.
Overall, seems clear and accessible, particularly if you're just interested in gentle exercise to destress and unwind. It doesn't focus on the Sanskrit names for poses, and there isn't much about mudras or anything about chakra....more
I had my first counselling session today, and mostly she just wanted me to read books, once she'd got some idea of how I'm feeling and why. This was oI had my first counselling session today, and mostly she just wanted me to read books, once she'd got some idea of how I'm feeling and why. This was one of them. I've always recognised that my parents were not the best possible parents they could be. While much of this book didn't apply to me, much of it could help me. While it does seem to set out a bit of an only-one-way attitude to it, which I don't think is true, it can definitely be helpful. It includes case studies as examples, some of which are quite upsetting, especially if you identify with them at all. It's easy to read, in the sense that it doesn't use complicated vocabulary, and it's quite matter-of-fact.
I felt quite resistant to parts of it, but that didn't mean it wasn't true on some level. Definitely worth reading, and if you have a counsellor/therapist, talking over your reactions with them....more
I've been having some problems with anxiety lately. Maybe not huge ones, but still, I've found myself having little panic attacks and focusing way tooI've been having some problems with anxiety lately. Maybe not huge ones, but still, I've found myself having little panic attacks and focusing way too much on lumps, bumps and skin blemishes. I've been trying to handle it myself, though I am going to see a counsellor soon, and this book was less than £3, so I thought... why not? It explains what health anxiety is, and how it comes about, and provides a lot of different exercises to help stop you focusing on your supposed health problems.
To be honest, this guide doesn't really have that much more information than some sites online, for example this self-help guide. It's somewhat expanded, with more explanations, but you can find most of the suggested exercises online....more