202 of 205 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2001
I have long been expecting a book from Mr. Iyengar that addresses the changes in his yoga since the publication the now classic Light on Yoga. This book clearly speaks to three major factors that Iyengar yoga is now famous for, but which are not covered in depth in Light on Yoga: the use of props and so called "restorative" poses, the therapeutic use of yoga asanas, and precise attention to anatomical detail in the poses.
To accomplish this, the book is divided into three sections: the Introductions, Yoga for You, and Yoga for Stress. The introductions are somewhat superficial with oddly anomalous photos, perhaps useful only to those who know nothing about yoga. The introduction to Light on Yoga, while dense, is much more rewarding.
Yoga for You gives detailed anatomical instruction in around 27 of the most basic and important asanas. This section has more pictures and more instructional information per asana than any other book I've seen. I was initially put of by seemingly trite little offset "advise from the Guru" sections but they eventually won me over, simply because Mr. Iyengar's advice is really, really good.
However, this section omits so many asanas that are also important, that it becomes difficult to give it a full endorsement as anything but a supplement to other Iyengar books. In attition, it is geared towards beginners, so intermediate and advancesed students might wish to look elswhere for further instruction. Yoga: the Iyengar Way by Silva and Mira Mehta, for instance, has slightly less detail, but covers more like 100 asanas with more some intermediate instruction(even this work, however, cuts corners).
Yoga for Stress is the most thorough work on the use of props in existence. It also gives a large section of routines for various ailments (with little pictures for each asana - a great touch which is steadily becoming for common) and a 20 weeks course for beginners (without such pictures - a pity).
This is, in general, great material, but I have found three problems with it:
1. Beginner's modifications for asanas in part 1, as well as several asanas (like Prasarita Padottanasana) which aren't covered in part 1, are put in part 2 which makes it frequently confusing when following the routines. A beginner looking for a simple introduction to props and Iyengar yoga might do better with How to Use Yoga by Mira Mehta. 2. It's much less useful if your not willing to invest heavily in specialized props (my own furniture and blankets weren't really appropriate, although some people may not have this problem). In fact, if you are not totally committed to the heavy use of props, I would find it difficult to recommend this book at all. 3. There is no discussion of why the given routines are good for certain ailments (the benefits of individual asanas are, as is usual, given with the poses themselves) and the modifying of routines is discussed only briefly. Gary Kraftsow's Yoga for Wellness, by contrast, gives a lot more of this type of information (although it has its own drawbacks).
Despite these problems, the instructional material for what is covered in the book is to notch. I would recommend this work highly to anyone who uses or is interested in using props, Iyengar teachers, Iyengar beginners who are committed to this style of yoga and want to be thorough in their understanding of it's more singular aspects, and anyone who insists on getting detailed anatomical instruction straight from Mr. Iyengar even in the knowledge that it will leave you wishing for more.
95 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Many people come to yoga from the perspective of health improvement. I am one of them. The path to yoga is often difficult in this case. You don't feel well, and those who instruct you are usually not yoga teachers. You get just a little dab to help you relax before meditating or as a supplement to an improved diet. Without knowing more, you do not know if you want to take on a lot of yoga. Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health is perfect for such health seekers. You will learn what asanas (poses or postures) can be used for what ailments, and the illustrations will help you use these asanas without an instructor.
I wish I had seen this book before having surgery recently. I did not know that there were asanas for improving my condition, and I might have avoided a procedure that has caused me much discomfort and inconvenience.
This book is a beginner's work, aimed at those who know almost nothing about yoga. As such, it is perfect for those who want to try some yoga to see what the health benefits might be. In my case, my brief exposure to yoga during meditation training led me to be interested in doing more. I found, though, that some asanas seemed to be hurting me. I was doing something wrong, but had no way to correct myself. Now, with this volume, I can see how to self-correct my practice. I also found asanas for what I want to accomplish that are easier on my middle-aged physique.
The illustrations give you the asana from 360 degrees, which is very helpful. He uses a range of models, so you will see both women and men performing the asanas. You are also told how to do them as a beginner. Each asana contains a caution section about who and when you should avoid this position. Mr. Iyengar also provides dynamic advice for how to move your body that gives you the essence of the asana in a way that mere illustrations could not. That advice focuses your attention on the way that the posture is being conducted in ways that I would have otherwise missed.
The book starts with a brief introduction to yoga and its benefits. The philosophy is then briefly outlined. Basic asanas are then described in sections based on whether you do them by standing, sitting, forward bends, twists, inversions, back bends or while reclining.
For people who live in Western countries, there is an extensive chapter on using yoga to relieve stress with lots of asanas. Many of these include props. I had not been introduced to props before, and liked what I saw.
To me, the core of the book was the section on which asanas to do for ailments. Your symptoms are the organizational structure. So if you have had asthma, for example, you go to the respiratory system section and look up the asanas that help. You then go to the front of the book (using the page references) to see how to do these asanas. From this, you can build your own program of self-healing. I recommend meditation as a supplement.
Finally, Mr. Iyengar provides a 20 week yoga course for those who want to begin yoga with a basic program. This looked like too much for me, but I will start it on my next vacation and see how it goes.
After you have used this book as a beginner for a few weeks, you will probably benefit from having an instructor check out your asanas once in a while. You are probably making small errors that are hard for you to self-correct.
The benefits of asanas come from relaxing the body and connecting the mind and body. You can also do this with your thoughts as the starting point. I suggest that you also select thoughts that you can use during the day to relax and create finer integration.
Ease into more positive positions, in order to flow with the natural river of improvement!
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2001
This book is of immeasurable value to both novices and masters of yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar is a master with great heart and caring for his students, which shows in his text and also the photos of him helping students with their postures.
This book is extremely accessible and is full of good, clear color photos of the postures, many of which are shown in a series of photos representing views from all angles.
In addition, the book is broken into clearly tabbed sections for easy reference. Sections include recommended series of postures for specific ailments and conditions, and conclude with a thoroughly illustrated 20-week yoga course.
Iyengar yoga often uses props to help students get deeper into postures, and there is a very good illustrated section here on how to use these simple props - something that's been missing from any other yoga book I've ever seen.
The book also contains a list of the postures by their Sanskrit names and their English names in translation and some basic anatomical information as well.
By far this is the best and most useful book on yoga I have ever seen, and I've seen more than a few.
This is Mr. Iyengar's first book in many years and well worth the wait.
159 of 178 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2001
Let's take a little journey. I'll do all the work and you can do all the listening. After we search our brains out on the web for the ultimate hatha yoga teacher, we will come to this man. It is inevitable. It seems that there are Iyengar Yoga Institutes all over the world. Start searching or just listen to me. And now he has written a book which requires no teacher. You will be introduced to a 20-week yoga program. I've done the five rites and some Power Yoga, but it really comes down to a firm commitment. And I know I will never be able to do better than this in health care.
In order to help you decide whether to buy the book, I will need to give you some facts.
Yes. The book does cost .... It also has 1,900 color photographs. And it is so heavy that I am using it as a bookend for my other books. True! It's worth the .... Believe me.
Iyengar believes in the Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali. This is Hindu Yoga. The book goes into some detail about this.
His Holiness the Dali Lama states in "The World of Tibetan Buddhism" that this is a "Brahma" Vehicle. This is a path that will lead you into the realm of form (astral rebirth) and the formless realm (causal rebirth). But that is it. There is no "wisdom-realizing" emptiness as in Tibetan Buddhism. Afterwards, you will return to one of the hells since you burned up all your good karma. Whether these hells are real or a projection of one's own mind is a mute point since one will experience them regardless. So be responsible for the philosophy if you decide to go further into yoga.
You do not need to use props. They are highly desirable. But not essential. Addresses of where you can buy these cushions, blocks, and so forth are listed in the back of the book on page 416. I think that you had better plan on spending $100 or more if you really want to get set up this way. Yours truly is using a wall and a blanket. I can't afford the props right now.
There are all kinds of health problems which these postures can help. The book lists quite a few. All the way from skin problems to helping your immune system work properly. Each problem has photographs of the postures to do!
In the 20 week yoga program, we will be going from 12 exercises to 47! I'm just starting out from the top. A few now. And add on a couple more. I just want you to know that his is a long program unless you cheat. Like I am doing. I highly recommend it in this case.
If you have heard of Krishnamurti, this is the program that he did. Two hours daily! He also did fast walking. Iyengar does not believe in any exercise that might case strain or puffing and huffing. You can deal with that as you will with the philosophy issue cited above.
What else can I do to help? I have the book right here. Boy is it beautiful! Sorry. That just slipped out. I guess that is about all. And from my research, this is the best exercise program that you can do. Scientists are confused now about aerobic activity. They keep lowering the amount of such exercise needed every few years. I wonder when they will get down to zero.
All I can say is that if you want the best, buy the book. I've gone through so many programs and done so much research. I wish you well. I really do. And if I have helped you any, I am happy.
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
This is an impressive, big book by Mr. Iyengar himself, but the much smaller "Yoga: The Iyenger Way" by Mehta is better. This book lacks cross-references but instead shows the same poses in different parts of the book. It also shows the poses for various ailments, while the Mehta book simply lists them with a page reference. In other words, this book is so much bigger than others not because it offers more but because it's inefficiently organized.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2004
By far the most colorful book on Yoga. A nice and colorful introduction to Yoga. In contrast to his original book, Light on Yoga, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar has presented the contents in a more usable way. The discussion of asanas is easily understood with a number of photographs and visual hints. From his vast teaching and practice experience, he has pointed out an exhaustive list of contra-indications. Many of the postures has an 'all-round' view that helps the beginner in following the directions quite easily. As in his original book, a series of asanas are presented for different ailments. However, the postures are presented with photographs and in sequence which helps one practice much more easily than just referring to a list. An large number of ailments are covered. The hard cover helps the book spread and stay open while one can glance and practice.
You can expect the book to refer to and use a great number of props. While it may appear that the use of so many props in virtually every asana to be detrimental to a smooth practice, the author points out that in course of time one will be able to practice without the props, which is very reassuring. A nice compendium of translation of Sanskrit to English names of the asanas adds to the book's usability. All in all, a very inspiring and essential addition to the list of yoga books for the beginner, adept and the teacher.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2001
I believe that this new book by B.K.S. Iyengar is the most accessible introduction to Iyengar yoga available on the market. There are already several excellent guides to the Iyengar method of yoga, including Mr. Iyengar's own "Light on Yoga," which is still widely regarded as the definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of yoga, and "Yoga: The Iyengar Way," written by three of Mr. Iyengar's students.
While this book certainly does not surpass "Light on Yoga" in its coverage of the various asanas (postures), the large color illustrations and detailed instructions regarding the postures make the book an ideal choice for beginning students. It also reflects Mr. Iyengar's innovative use of props to help students experience the postures, an aspect of Iyengar yoga which is not really included in "Light on Yoga." Speaking of props, this book could actually serve as one--in hard cover, the thing weighs a good 3-5 pounds!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2001
You can use this book without spending much on props. All i have is a yoga belt, about twenty bucks. The rest I improvised. The hardest thing was a little table you put over your lap with legs to do one type of forward bend. I use one of those low, reclining lawn chairs, of the aluminum summer furniture variety. It folds up--the front over the middle, then the back over the middle, then is sitting on four legs and...presto--It works just like the yoga bench in the book. and you probably already own one. Or can get one for maybe fifteen bucks (as opposed to a real table for seventy bucks). I just use this as an example. I found a bunch of things that are very much like bolsters at a local variety store. for a yoga chair you buy just a six dollar folding chair and then fold it up, lie it face down on the floor, and kick the back out (going forward), using your weight and a hammer. That leaves a chair with just an arched pipe for a back that you can use for the various things he has in the book.
blankets and pillows you already own. so, the bolsters are the hardest to find but you can find cheap substitutes.
It's worth it. This book is a life changer.
Only one criticism--he has each series illustrated by little photos for people with particular problems, but at the end of the book where you find the daily schedules, there are no pictures--you have to look them up if you can't remember the sanskrit names. Well, this does encourage you to learn the sanskrit names, but it would be better if there were pictures to save time. I've had to turn the pages in mine so much it's already beginning to wear out.
buy it, though. or maybe in a few years a newer addition will be improved by adding the pictures to the daily schedules.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2001
This book is an excellent and thorough source of information about yoga. Yoga is not just about the physical movement of the body. It is a lifestyle that betters the mind. It also allows practictioners to deal with physical and emotional stresses.
Chapters include Philosphy of Yoga, Asanas for You, Yoga for Stress, Yoga for Ailments. The excellent illustrations guide you step by step on how to practice the routines. The 20 week Yoga Course at the end of the book outlines exactly which asanas to do, starting with simple ones and adding the more complex. I loved the Yoga for Ailments chapter because it went through common ailments (osteoarthritis, insomnia, PMS, asthma etc...) and (through illustrations) outlined each asana to follow.
All this from a leading practitioner and expert.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2002
I consider this book an excellent companion to Iyengar's previous publication "Light on Yoga". All though this one does not have the broad spectrum of asanas (postures) of its predecessor; just the fact that the ones illustrated here (shown in a 360 degreee view), makes it more comprehensive and makes clear the need for alignment and form often emphasized by yoga instructors.
If you're considering starting a yoga practice on your own and want to know of its benefits, this book is highly recommended since it's very comprehensive (though feedback and access to an instructor is highly encouraged). If you're already taking a yoga class, this book will expand and aid in your practice. Each asana or pose (wish they will show more)is clearly explained and the photos are just amazing, it also list its benefits and has a special section on poses to heal or treat some physical ailments. For begginers or people with poor flexibility, there's a large chapter on the uses of props to aid in your practice, one of Mr. Iyengar's many contributions to the practice. Though I doubt that anyone will have access to such range of "props", it is a good reference for instructors to have. When I first started practicing I only had a belt, a chair and a pair of blocks and this few "props" sure helped me a lot with my practice.
This beautifully edited publication, along with Iyengar's "Light on Yoga" is a "must" in any yogi or yogini's reference library.