61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2003
This book Jivamukti Yoga is very different than most yoga books in that it is about Yoga in a more holistic sense. It has some material on asana sequencing (very interesting I might add), but that is the smallest part of the book. I would also agree with others that the photographs have a lot to be desired in their size and the way they are cropped. Not user friendly at all. It seems as they were willing to sacrifice clarity for the sake of being "artsy".
Jivamukti Yoga is more of an overview of the more spiritual aspects of yoga and puts the asana practice in the context of this more complete picture. It truly treats asana as just one limb of yoga practice.
While I enjoyed it on many levels, I must also say that there are many times where I felt the authors got very preachy and sometimes seemed a bit off base to me.
For example, Gannon and Life's view of "Ahimsa" compared to other authors on the subject. Most writing on this concept of non-harming that I've read also stresses not harming oneself, Gannon and Life don't give very much importance to this aspect of it which has a bit of a "martyr-like" attitude to it.
In Desikachar's book "The Heart Of Yoga" he says (I'm paraphrasing) that "Ahimsa also means acting in kindness toward ourselves". and goes on to say for example that " if one is a vegetarian but are in a situation where one must eat meat in order to survive then one must do what they need to do so they can continue to take care of their family and other responsibilities" and goes on to say that "it would show a lack of consideration and arrogance to become stuck on one's principles".
Gannon and Life often seem to be stuck on their principles which I found to be a bit of a turn off.
Even Buddhist Metta practices start with the idea that one has to love themselves in a healthy way(not in a hedonistic or egotiscal way) before they can truly have space and peace in their hearts for others. Only then can people love in a pure and unconditional way as that love expands outward. How can one give what they don't have?
Anyway, besides occasional somewhat "fanatical" attitudes throughout, I enjoyed this book immensely. I am currently reading it for the second time and can see that I will go back to it and re-read it many many times in spite of my occasional disagreements with the authors.
I have read some complain of a lack of "thoroughness" regarding the "yoga philosphy" in this book, but in fairness to the authors, this book isn't a scholarly book on Yoga philosophy but rather an introduction that will surely open many eyes to Yoga as a broader practice than just the asanas. Most people new to the more philosophical and religious aspects of yoga practice are not going to start with Patanjali but would be better off getting the overview from a book like this.
As mentioned above, for those interested, I would highly recommend Desikachar's "Heart of Yoga", which does have the "Yoga Sutras" translated at the end of the book. It is preceded by an overview of yoga philosophy prior to presenting his translation of the "Yoga Sutras" (as well as some chapters on yoga "asana" practice) to give the reader some background.
Desikachar himself is the son (and student)of the late Sri T.Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya himself was also the teacher of Pattabhi Jois (the primary Guru and Ashtanga yoga teacher of Gannon and Life and THE most well known proponent of Ashtanga Yoga). Krishnamacharya also taught BKS Iyengar. That should be enough of an endorsement to convince anyone of Desikachar's "Yoga lineage" and credibility which would in my eyes put him in a different class than Gannon and Life. Sometimes it seems that some Westerners tend to "romanticize" their experiences in India whereas someone like Desikachar is not apt to do that since he is a native of that land.
Still, regarding "Jivamukti Yoga", I still think it deserves a five star rating and Highly recommend it for those interested in this very interesting approach to yoga.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2003
This has been a very interesting read for me. I attempted to read the book without thinking about things that I have heard about the authors. Sharon and David are much discussed in yoga circles - they are considered fairly radical - and I have heard many good and bad things about them. I also tried not to let the views of the authors that I don't entirely agree with influence my view of the book. In the end, I was quite please with this book.
First of all, I think the overview of yoga philosophy, is good. This is the main focus of this book. As an introductory book on the philosophy aspect of yoga, it does not go into great depth. The authors believe that this aspect has not been being spread as much as the physical practice of yoga. However, be forewarned, the authors practice veganism as a part of their ahimsa (non-harming) practice and they are strong advocates for animal rights. This stance is presented throughout the book. While I don't entirely agree with them on this, if you read the entire book, they do explain where they are coming from on this issue.
As far as hatha yoga / asana practice / the physical postures of yoga, there is some of that in this book. The authors assume you have studied asana previously. They point out there are many books and teachers availible regarding hatha yoga, and they don't feel compelled to repeat this. What they do is dedecate a few chapters to demonstrate their style of vinyasa krama (linking the postures together with breath in a dance/tai chi like flow series). They give 5 sample 'lessons', three for beginners and two for intermediate/advanced. They also give numerous flow sequences you can put together yourself in various ways or incorporate as a segment into your own practice. As others have stated the pictures of the authors doing these sequences are not extremely clear, but I think this is because they are already assuming you know how to do the poses. They do state you should have studied yoga before attempting to do these sequences. I have incorporated some of these lessons into my home practice and have found their sequencing extremely enjoyable.
Basic meditation and pranayama (breathing) techniques are also given. They do suggest exhale retention, a practice many do not advise until experience in pranayama is gained; however, they don't go into discussion about the various theories behind this.
There is much discussion of spiritualism throughout the book and devotion to the divine in whatever form you see it. in the authors' opinion, this is the goal of yoga/life. There are also discussions of the arts in worship. Building a spiritual community is another major focus in the book.
There is a considerable bit of name dropping in this book. This may be American name dropping but I want to offer another explanation. In many yoga traditions you are supposed to recognize anyone and everyone who has contributed to your growth. It is a sign of humility: I would not be here without all these people (all things that have come before me have made me and I will be a part of all that comes after me), I have done none of this own my own.
I have never met David and Sharon, but I have heard a lot about them second hand. I don't know what of that is true or false. All I can say that this book is a good, well-rounded presentation of yoga that does include the authors viewpoints and personality in its pages (whether this is good or bad depends on how you feel about this as a reader).
I give this book four and a half stars.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2003
In an era when yoga has become trendy and commercialized it is refreshing that a mainstream publisher offers a book that advocates a return to spiritually oriented yoga practice. Ironically, the authors have created yet another "brand name" yoga while delivering a book that has more style than substance.
I was disappointed with most of the contents of this book. For example, the section on pranayama and bandhas has enough detail to get someone into trouble, but not enough detail to provide real guidance. The section on asana has some useful comments on sequencing, but the descriptions and the tiny, grainy, badly cropped photos are useless.
The text on various aspects of yoga philosophy and practice is uninspired and rather muddled. The section on ahimsa is particularly annoying, with a rather hectoring and judgmental attitude towards non-vegans.
I was especially disappointed with the recommended readings found in Appendix II. A book that is intended to inspire people towards a spiritual path should have a well organized reading list that describes the recommended books in some detail. The provided list has no organization at all, it isn't even properly alphabetized! Nor is there any description of the included books.
Surf on over to the Jivamukti website, there you can purchase some pricey yoga togs so that you can look very stylish on the road to spiritual liberation. The authors may have intended to promote a spiritual approach to yoga, but they've created yet another "brand name" yoga with themselves as "yoga celebrities". If this sort of thing appeals to you, I suggest you check out their other book, The Art of Yoga, which is all style and no substance--but it sure is way cool.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2004
This book is unique among Yoga books as some topics come out in more detail with more of the Author's personal experience. Such as Karma (action), Ahimsa (Non-violence), Prana (life force), Vinyasa Krama (the act of sequencing), etc. The coverage is more extensive than most of the typical yoga books. A whole chapter is devoted to each of these topics and more. The authors state that the book itself is not really about the postures but what (all) is essential in liberating the soul (Jiva mukti - life/soul liberation).
A very unique chapter is about the Guru. This chapter eloquently highlights the characteristics you should look for in a Guru. The authors point out the fact that your intuition apart from the intellect itself must play a role. Another point you don't read often is the fact that a Guru must have attained enlightenment. While very few teachers in the modern age have attained enlightenment, Sharon and David point out the need for the Guru to be in close touch with the scriptures as a substitute.
Being strong proponents of non-violence and animal rights you can expect a good deal of coverage on ahimsa. Very few Yoga teachers prescribe a vegetarian diet; Sharon and David prescribe it as an must for a true Yogi.
The book is complete with a superb collection of photographs and many charts of asanas for different focus - backbending, forward bending, twists and such. A quite comprehensive reference list and a comprehensive translation of sanskrit terms ends the well written and eloquent presentation.
The cover photos while beautiful is needlessly catchy! In all, an eloquent discourse on many aspects of Yoga. It would be a complete book if the authors had an as in-depth commentary on the other yamas and niyamas, the rules and observations as some of those in the book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
"Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul" is a wonderful book that reflects the path of Yogis David Life and Sharon Gannon. Although the couples views on Ahimsa (non-harming) are controversial (and to many readers somewhat extreme), they most certainly make one think.
I have had the pleasure of practicing Jivamukti Yoga (not with Sharon and David, but with their students) and find it to be an energetic and well integrated style of Yoga. Like all yoga, Jivamukti's asanas and philosphy will not be for everyone. Yoga is a personal path and each of us that embark upon that path must invariably find their own way.
What I enjoyed most about the book was that it is a detailed description of two people that clearly have found their path. Many find their path extreme, but that is for the reader and individual Yogi to decide. Ultimately you will recieve from the book what you need and put aside that which does not serve you.
I definitely recommend that yogis read this book in order to clarify their own path.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2006
This book is wonderful! I'm so energized from reading such accessible information about the basis of yoga. The chapter on ahimsa is incredible and has helped me go back to veganism, which has been a struggle for me the past couple of years. Now I've been reminded of being mindful when faced with an opportunity to make a choice about many things, including food. I hope to meet these two wonderful people someday!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2002
This book.....what can I say? I got it and read the whole thing in 2 days. This book challenges you to look at your yoga practice, and your life. Often i have felt empty after, and during yoga class -- but why? I was doing the poses right, but i was missing something -- as David and Sharon put it; I had taken apart the clock and still expect it to work. Yoga is a system, a spirtiual system that leads to enlighment. A yoga body and a clam mind are simply the bi-products of the work.
This book talks about the differnt braches of yoga and how they are still able to be practiced in today's busy life. The book has jivamukti yoga class out lines and ALOT of spirtural theory in a manner that is easy to digest. I recomend it highly for anyone who wants to take their practice to the next level.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2003
I cannot praise this book enough! I have never written a review on Amazon before but this time I had to. This book is one of a kind, integrating traditional Yoga - with all its colour, sounds, and mystique - with a modern day approach that far from detracting from the essence, truly brings Yoga up to date. So many other books skim over the other limbs and don't indicate how they can be integrated into every day life. In Jivamukti Yoga however, we are given differing methods to do just this! One of the real inspirations for me was that you don't have to live in perfect surroundings, you don't need to have serene, silent, idyllic conditions in which to practice; you can practice in the middle of a busy urban background and become an `Urban Yogi'!
I can heartily recommend this book for anyone who wants to practice Yoga how it was meant to be practiced! Buy the book, put some tunes on and enjoy!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2003
I think I have read many of the books on yoga today, some of them are really good about telling me where I should be putting my left toe, during my practice, where I should be looking when I do a headstand, really good about telling me how my body will get better , more flexible etc. etc. but none where more powerful in changing my perception of the world than this book.... Yoga is a spiritual practice an ethical way life , a compassionate way of living a political and social movement that cares about the environment and all living beings . This book brought the teachings of yoga to me in a straight way , it gave me more information about what yoga is than all those other books combine. Is a book that i keep coming back to ... I can pick any page and fine a teaching , to me that's the mark of a powerful and timeless book.. I don't really understand how can one compare Jivamukti Yoga to any other style or book out there...Its the only book in the market I feel that presents Yoga as a spiritual practice . OM
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2002
I recently attended David's workshop and prior to the workshop, read Jivamukti Yoga in a matter of two or three days. I have incorporated the beautiful sequencing into my own practice and my teaching. My students love it. I also have asked my students to go beyond themselves for their intentions for their practice. I am seeing such a difference in the peacefulness and focus present in the students. I am re-reading Jivamukti Yoga for the second time and often refer to it as I plan my classes. I highly recommend this book to both students and teachers of yoga.
Many thanks to Sharon and David for this very beautiful and spiritual work.