yoga for dummiesAn Essential Beginner’s Guide to All Things Yoga

Author(s): Larry Paynem Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, and Therese Iknoian

Last year, after many days of munching away on snacks at work, I began to think about health in a more immediate manner. Experiences of those around me, some fairly grizzly, lead me to note that if I didn’t take care of my own health, it would certainly “take care” of me – in the Godfather sense that is. My issue, however, is that I hate most forms of exercising having at various times tried bowflexing to tone the flab only to give up in a sweating heap of disgust less than a week later. I needed a fitness routine more tailored to my own personal tastes and yoga was the answer. Several classes had me feeling revived and better, several more had me publishing an article praising the discovery of yoga in my life, yet internally I flinched at every Asana because ultimately, although I could do most of the stretch moves, I didn’t understand that much about yoga. I can’t always be at a class either. I wanted to learn how to improve and deepen my practice and when I found the Yoga All-In-One For Dummies compendium which combined six previous Yoga for Dummies books into one arm tiring tome, I realized I stumbled upon the best introduction – ever.

From the correct way to hold a table pose, to the art of meditation, to the pronunciation and understanding of yoga terms – I was a complete and total novice (although I’d done some fancy-ish aerial yoga poses in class).  While private, one-on-one classes sound awesome, who has the money and the time? I knew that while my teachers were helpful, they weren’t watching me all the time and that bad posture in a pose did more harm than good. So the onus was on me to learn everything from terms to breathing techniques to holding postures and ensuring that at all times, I was doing it correctly (or at least, trying to). This particular guide was compelling because it covered all aspects of yoga from the easy to the difficult, although the exotic (and the new such as my much loved aerial yoga) are left out. Starting from the simple, don’t forget to breathe technique, the books go through typical yoga, main differences between popular yoga techniques, yoga with weights, yoga for kids, all the way to yoga for seniors and finding enlightenment through the spiritual side of yoga.

The books included are:

  • Yoga for Dummies
  • Power Yoga for Dummies
  • Yoga with Weights for Dummies
  • Meditation for Dummies
  • Stretching for Dummies
  • Mind-Body Fitness for Dummies

The first two books are the most helpful and the most in-depth. Each pose is explained both in its traditional roots and with the “forgiving limbs” idea which advocates adopting changes in poses to benefit the individual’s skill level and flexibility. We get the low-down on how to be a cool yogini (or yogi) but the text takes a distinctive, “this is for the every-man/woman” workout, which is exceptionally helpful to those of us just beginning our yoga journey. The 576 thick pages provide step-by-step details including a walkthrough of your typical poses, myriad routine suggestions for people of all ages and yoga skills, and pictures of each movement. An entire website is also devoted to this book where videos are provided for key workouts/poses that readers can follow along with. I admit, I might have been too lazy to log on for the videos, but they hardly seemed necessary with all of the pictures and in-depth, step-by-step instructions.

Most importantly, this book helped me with my in-class workouts and I was able to see and notice things I was doing and shift accordingly to improve my workout, the benefits of my workout, and my general alignment. The instructions made sense, the pictures were extremely valuable, and the routines geared to different experience levels and preferences helped me to modify my in-class practice without ever having to spend extra on a one-on-one session. At my current yoga studio, the rate for one hour of instructor one-on-one time is $75, so you can imagine how pleased I was with this helpful book. It even made me begin to think that maybe the breath work was important and something I should stop ignoring and start practicing; plus, the forgiving everyman nature helped to keep me focused on my new health regime and not disappointed by my failures.

The spiritual aspect of this huge compendium is the only short spot. The other books are pretty packed with goodies and routines. The spiritual “enlightenment” side was more of a short “FYI.” If you really wanted to go Zen, another book would be in order, but if you just want to understand the occasional terms in yoga class, and steer clear of the spiritual yoga practices, then this section gives you all the highlights and cursory information necessary.

Overall, I am exceptionally pleased by the guidance from this book, the easy to follow text, the general good tone, and most importantly, the vast amount of cash it saved me. I’m still happily practicing and improving at my yoga and anytime I forgot a posture or have a question, I have this book (and those online tutorials provided with it) to help me through the struggle. Highly recommended.

–        Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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