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Yoga's Healing Power: Looking Inward for Change, Growth, and Peace
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Yoga's Healing Power discussion > Yoga's Healing Power First Half of Book

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Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
So the exciting news is I spoke to the esteemed yogi/author Ally Hamilton and she is game for joining our discussion at the end. I am starting a separate thread for people to direct questions directly to her. At the end of the month she will come to that thread and answer them, at which time you can engage in dialogue with more questions and answers if you want.

The prompts below cover the first half of the book, through Chapter 6, the power of vulnerability (that one was for me!). Please keep your comments to that point. Prompts for the rest of the book will be posted in another week or so.

If you are reading the book and comment below, please come back and read and react to other people's comments, to get a dialogue going. That makes the book discussion much more fun.

If you aren't reading the book but any of these questions spark something in you, feel free to jump in. We are reading this book for how it relates to our own personal limitations and growth, which everyone can benefit from.

As always, the prompts below are just food for thought. Answer them, ignore them, comment about anything you want (till the start of chapter 7). As I usually say, this is not school. It is designed to be fun.

1) In the introduction Ally explains the 8 limbs of yoga in some detail. Were you familiar with them before reading this book? Did she offer any additional insights to them that made you think? (I personally like how she defined pratyahara as the withdrawal of the senses from any objects, including food and things, as well as the thoughts it is typically linked to.) Are there any that jumped out as ones you want to especially work on? As I mentioned in another thread, I have taken asteya, or nonstealing, as my yama for the month, trying not to take a single thing (extra napkins in the restaurant, a pen someone hands me to sign something with) that doesn't belong to me.

2) The premise of the book is to link these 8 limbs to modern life, including Ally's sharing quite a bit of her own history (overbearing boyfriend, eating issues, infertility, divorce...). Does this approach speak to you? Were you able to link your own issues to these limbs?

3) Did you do any of the journaling or asanas linked to the topics? Can you give examples? Did it help?

4) In the chapter on discernment, Ally writes, "We spend most of our time with our internal dialogue, interpreting data from the outside world through our own filters and lenses--lenses that have been shaped and informed by our experiences, by our beliefs, or by the things we think we should believe..." (print book page 34) Were you able to identify in reading this chapter some things you may think are true or inevitable but maybe aren't? Can you commit to trying to shift your views?

5) In the chapter on releasing your grip to things were are unhelpfully attached to (or avoiding of), she defines three main categories of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. We all tend to some more than others, but I believe we each do some of each in different parts of our lives (eg, we may feel secure about work but anxious in our relationships, etc.). Can you think of a situation when you were able to consciously switch from a less helpful style to a secure one? How did you do it? Is there anything in your current life that would benefit from this shift?

6) "If you aren't at peace with yourself, none of it [wealth, travel, appearance] matters," she writes on page 55 (print book), describing a wealthy man who, after years of success, was still waiting for the happiness payoff. Can you relate to this? How are you working toward more inner peace?

7) The chapter on the power of vulnerability focuses primarily on our fears of death, and how it keeps us from fully living (and also the fear of failure). How do you think your fear of death (or of failure) limits you? Have you had any situations that have helped you feel more powerful in this regard? If not, can you see a benefit to this?

I myself will say that after several years of a serious health situation, I have fully recovered and feel more powerful than ever. I appreciate every day like never before. And, having thought about death and clarified my own views of life after death (I personally believe our spirit unites with the whole in another dimension, and can choose to return if it wants), I am less afraid of death than before--although I hope to not go there for quite a few more years.

8) Are you enjoying the book so far? Best and worst things about it?

message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
I’ve just started the book but already I’m thoroughly engaged – I find Ally’s writing very accessible. I’ve been practicing for over a decade but have yet to embrace all aspects – I’m ashamed to say I only had a vague notion of all 8 limbs and often felt overwhelmed, like I couldn’t possibly integrate them all, so only focused on what I was comfortable with, and what I thought I could “master.” But even her breakdown of the limbs in the introduction, and the concrete real life examples, helped me better understand. I now see that it is a constant practice, a constant journey of understanding.

I tend to be very hard on myself in other areas of life, but yoga has always been the one place where I allow myself to “tuck my issues under the mat” – I almost treated yoga as a luxury, a selfish treat to myself when I had young children to tend to, a job that wouldn’t stop demanding things from me, etc. But I’m beginning to see that anything I absorb during yoga practice should radiate out into the rest of my day…in the same vein of, as she suggests, writing down your daily intentions and pinning them to the fridge. They are just words if you don’t put action behind them. I am going to be more mindful as I leave class and go about my day.

I am very drawn to that “inner steadiness” she speaks of.

Journaling often paralyzes me, pen in hand, (so ironic) but I plan to try some of the asanas from each chapter. Looking forward to reading on!

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Glad the book is resonating, Jessica. I too find it very applicable to real life.

Yoga, like any spiritual practice, is about making tiny steps forward, so no beating up on yourself for not making more. I typically choose one of the 8 limbs, or one section of them, to focus on for a while. As I mentioned before, now it's nonstealing--of anything, a paper clip or pen or whatnot.

I too have never gotten into journaling; I find it interesting that you don't. For me, I think it's because I write for a living, so writing isn't what I want to turn to to relax; maybe that's true for you, too?

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessicatopper) | 74 comments Mod
Your focus on the non-stealing stuck with me, Meryl - every time I reach for a napkin from a dispenser at a restaurant I think of you! And I think whether I really need one, or two...or any at all.

Actually, writing is usually a relaxing thing for me - I work out of my house for my day job so it felt like the work was never done, and to separate myself from it, I began writing fiction. But I find making up complex characters and their emotions, and working through their issues is easier for me to write than the subject of me. I guess I am an endless work in progress!

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Jessica, glad you've joined my non-stealing practice. I walked out with someone's pen yesterday and turned back to return it.

I didn't mean I don't find writing relaxing, even though that's kind of what I said. I meant I don't like journaling as my meditation because it's too close to what I do for work. I have tried journaling many times over the years because so many people swear by it, but it's never worked for me.

message 6: by Monette (new) - added it

Monette Chilson (monettechilson) | 66 comments Mod
I am just diving into Ally's book, so I'll start with thoughts on the first 20 pages. I always appreciate writers who work to demystify the eight limbs of yoga. Any work we can do to open people's minds to yoga beyond asana is of great benefit. Ally does a wonderful job with this, taking each limb out of the theoretical realm and making it clear that they can be practical tools in our lives.

The key to successfully incorporating the eight limbs into our lives is realizing we don't have to work on all of them at one time. I love how several of you have selected the specific limb or the yama or niyama that speaks to you where you are today. For me, the the interpretation of the yama of satya (truthfulness) is something I'm working on now in the same terms in which Ally described it—alignment between how we feel, what we say and what we do. I am resisting the urge to blurt out, "Fine!" when someone asks how I'm doing. Instead, I do a quick internal check and reply in a way that is reflective of how I am really doing without providing too much information. Also, her description of the niyama of saucha (cleanliness) as including the state of our external environment has me focusing on the many ways I need to declutter my surroundings. Again, the key to my success in this arena is taking this in manageable bites, i.e. one small section of my closet instead of telling myself I'm going to overhaul my wardrobe.

I do like how Ally told her own story very succinctly up front, so that she can carry the yogic correlations throughout the book. I am looking forward to seeing how see interlaces her story with the broader message of the book.

That's it for me now. I'll hop back on when I have another chapter or two under my belt.


message 7: by Julie (new)

Julie | 9 comments I finished listening to the book a few days ago & I haven't done the journaling as that's just not my style. I really enjoyed the book, it was an easy read & the narrator was easy to listen to. I had no idea what the eight limbs were before reading this as I'm new to yoga this year, so I found it all very interesting. At the moment I'm concentrating on being more mindful in my everyday life, trying to live with more compassion and am concentrating on getting into a routine with a regular yoga & meditation practice each day.
The book had me in tears at one point, as I lost my beloved elderly dog earlier this year & I could relate to one chapter in the book. Learning about us all being " beings of energy" & that we are all connected is really changing how I view the world.

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Glad you liked the book, Julie. If you have any questions you'd like to ask Ally, please write the in the thread with that title. She will answer them (and engage in a back and forth if you want) in a week or two.

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie | 9 comments Thanks Meryl, I'll do that!

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