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Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  520 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Practitioners around the world reap the physical benefits of yoga, assuming poses and frequently calling them by their Sanskrit names. While many know that hanumanasana is named for the deity Hanuman, few understand why this is the case. Behind each asana and its corresponding movements is an ancient story about a god, sage, or sacred animal, much like Aesop’s fables or Eu ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published May 5th 2010 by Mandala Publishing (first published 2010)
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Beautiful collection of mythic stories drawing from Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and the asana postures that are inspired by them. Kaivalya and van der Kooij compiled a lovely book that I will use over and over again for my own practice and sharing with students.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three-line review: The first of four books I have to read for my yoga teacher training class, this was an easy introduction into the physical poses combined with the myths associated with yoga. I've always enjoyed myths and fairy tales, and these easy-to-read stories were new to me – though no less fantastical than Greek, Roman or Norse mythology. The book did a great job of tying each pose to its respective myth and a larger theme or lesson, so there was something applicable to take away from ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting book and I enjoyed learning about how the various Indian myths correspond to the different asanas (yoga postures). I will definitely be re-reading and taking some notes because the pantheon of Hindu gods and demigods is still somewhat confusing to me. I did notice and appreciate that savasana was at the end of the book which did give me a small sense of continuity.
Jennifer Marlowe
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is another to assist in deepening the practice of yoga. Defining the mythic meaning behind many asanas (poses) helps to bring further awareness and meaning to our daily physical practice.

Highly recommend for all teachers and students of yoga
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: yoga
I wish there had been some worked cited or a bibliography in order to do some further research.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: decolonize-yoga
Treat yourself and get this in the physical copy. It has that amazing book smell and the pages are nice and thick. But enough about how it looks. If you like myths and do yoga, you will have fun with Myths of Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooij.

This book was created for all that have ever wondered about the backstory to the asanas we practice. Myths of Asanas divides the poses into four sections, that of the yogi, gods, sages, and animals and earth, with an introduction for each s
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I really loved how the connections between myths and asanas were explained, and how easy to read the language used for explaining the myths were. It is true that at times the myth devolved into more mystic/religious territory than this atheist is comfortable with, but that's just my perspective. All in all, a very interesting read!
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wish they included more of the asanas I'd love to talk about and that I do more often, but this is a guide to the stories behind the asanas. Didn't love how it was organized.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little book for everyone who is interested in learning The stories behind The asanas.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read which likely will add a dimension to my yoga practice; the book is attractively designed. 3 1/2 stars
Niki Walters
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful in all ways. It was the easiest to understand depiction of yogic myth and philosophy that I have ever read, the art is stunning and it's filled with wisdom bombs.
Sini Hietaharju
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a mystical stories that I always want to get back to read maybe one for evening. So much we can learn from the deepness of these stories.
Keisha Adinkra
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written! I enjoyed learning about the myths behind the asanas. I recommend reading all or some parts of the stories to your yoga students!
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition presents mythology from Hindu scriptures related to a variety of yoga asanas. I found it to a great introductory text with it's short, easily digestible chapters! It inspires an appetite to continue to learn more and read the myths in more detailed forms.
Alex Rosenblum
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Easy read. Good background for the asanas. Great things to think about and help deepen the practice especially in balance poses and twists. I didn't know much about the names of poses except that that they often visually represented them, so this will give me some good things to reflect on in class:)
Some descriptions - lotus pose, fish pose, peacock pose, felt significant and I guess that would be personal to the reader/ practitioner. Definitely good addition to any yoga library.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga
I really liked this book. It outlined the myths behind different Yoga poses and I felt like it explained a lot of the teachings of Yoga in a really easy to read format. The book itself is presented so beautifully. There are really nice illustrations and the pages are so clearly presented. There are quite a few coloured pages too which I really liked. I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to others.
Saumya Soman
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An another non fiction read this year. I have been doing yoga for a while and this year I started to take it more seriously. So I thought why not read a book about yoga. This book is so engaging where each story is a story of an asana. Asanas are usually named after sages or gods of Hindu mythology. Some of the stories I have heard before but I never connected them to an asana. It took me back to a time when I was craving more for mythology.
Dec 11, 2010 rated it liked it
A very quick read that reveals the stories of some of the basic (and not-so-basic) asanas. Personally, I enjoyed discovering the inspiration for many of the poses which can be inspiring. The book often has a conversational tone which a reader may or may not enjoy. I'm always on the fence about that.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga
If anyone who wants to know more about the myths associated with yoga poses, this is the perfect book. I used this book during my Holistic Yoga Flow teacher training, and I found it really helpful when I went on to plan my own classes.
Jennifer Mcferran
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga
Enjoyable read. As with other mythological tales, the stories are over the top and vivid, full of symbolism. I got the book out of curiosity, both for my personal practice and perhaps as a facet to add to teaching.
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
John's little cousins loved the myth behind the warrior poses, so cool.
This is a great book to have in your teaching arsenal. Interesting stories behind the poses that you can use in class.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I will read this many times.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fun to learn the myths behind several of the poses, and inspiring as well. Really helps understand the purpose behind yoga that goes so deeply beyond the physical.
Leslie North
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Using this as a curriculum for yoga class. I loved all the stories. Such a great background for yoga postures
Kate Lumsden
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
so fun! i was given this as a birthday gift and i'm shocked at how often i open it up. i'm not completely sure of it's accuracy, but it sure is fun. :)
Misa Derhy
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The must for yoga teachers especially if teaching yoga for kids. They adore those stories (and me too).
Kayla Newman
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I want to re-read this book, it has a lot of information behind the asanas. I feel it is good to know more of the history behind the poses, it's something I think about during my practice.
Chloe French
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book

It shows the poses and how they relate to the stories of how they came to be. The author did a great job of explaining how everything is connected.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it liked it
A fun and breezy book with less than amazing prose. It's like an entertaining and extended magazine article.
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