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Myths of the Asanas: The Ancient Origins of Yoga Paperback – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mandala Publishing (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601090579
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601090577
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“Alanna and Arjuna moved down an amazing road of story and myth that truly enhances our yogic lessons. Some of the nuances of ethics,posture, breath, and meditation can only be touched through metaphor and mythology and we thank them for taking us on this journey.“

—Rodney Yee, instructor & co-director of Piedmont Yoga Studio


“What I love most about this treasure of a book is that it faithfully reminds me of the roots behind our modern day approach to yoga. I am truly grateful to Alanna and Arjuna for providing us with such a delightfully accessible handbook on the vibrant history of our practice.”

—Rusty Wells, instructor & founder of the Urban Flow Yoga Studio


“Myths of the Asanas has a lyrical essence that comes forth in its story telling.”

—Ana Forrest, founder of Forrest Yoga

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Stories are great, very easy read.
Tiana Duvauchelle
Understanding these stories gives yogis and yoginis yet another way to move more deeply into their asanas.
Lori Holden
This book was one of the recommended readings for my Yoga Teacher Training program.
doctor_beth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mr. E on November 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading an excerpt from "Myths of the Asanas: the Ancient Origins of Yoga" in the October 2010 issue of "Yoga Journal" magazine, I got online and ordered a copy of the book from Amazon.com. A student of the works of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, I immediately recognized the authors' understanding of, and respect for the mythic tradition. The writing, like magic realism, is reminiscent of children's literature, yet contains deep truths relevant to those in all stages of life. The book is a collection of short stories: synopses of the myths which correspond with the asanas or postures familiar to contemporary practitioners of yoga. Highly informative, but not patronizing, each short section is a relaxing read which gives those who practice yoga a greater understanding of the longstanding tradition in which we take part.
I have enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who practices yoga or is interested in mythology/collective consciousness. My only complaint is, however, like so many things "yoga" the presentation is uber-feminine, specifically the cover art. Not everyone who practices yoga is female. Is it too much to ask the marketing gurus to take a more androgynous approach?
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By all.j on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is good that the writers are honouring the tradition of Yoga by linking the asanas to the myths. I also liked the fact that they recognise the links between the myths, asana practice and the development of personal qualities like loyalty, faith, generosity and persistence. If you are looking for a children's book, or if you just want an easy read on the myths, or perhaps (if you are a yoga teacher) an easy reference point for stories to mention in class, then this could be the book for you.
However, if you want more, if you really want to delve into the meanings of the asanas, then you need to know how to do it. For this, there are much better books on the market.
Swami Sivananda Radha's 'Hatha Yoga; the Hidden Language' brings the ancient yoga myths and the symbolism of nature together with the asanas in a more helpful way. It helps you to move to a deeper level, to take the asanas as reflective and meditation postures, observe how each one affects the mind and the body, make connections between what you are experiencing as you do your asana practice and your daily life. It also helps you to move towards deeper understanding, making your own discoveries.
Another book worth mentioning is Swami Lalitanada's 'Inner Life of Asanas'. This is a more personal illustration of working with asanas. She takes many of the poses covered in 'Myths of the Asanas' and explores insights she has had from her practice. Swami Laltananda provides instruction and takes yogic themes (such as developing awareness, exercising choice and moving towards union) to demonstrate by example, how to bring the teachings and our experiences together in our practice.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Sausman Judd on July 22, 2010
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Highly recommended for yoga students and teachers or anyone interested in learning more about the stories behind the poses. I've always found these stories to be a bit confusing and hard to remember, but this book is written in a way that makes them very real and relatable. The graphics are lovely as well. This is a book to return to time and time again.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thyme Management on September 10, 2010
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Yoga teachers have to read a ton of information and sometimes it becomes overwhelming (the yoga practice! the spiritual growth!) This book does a great job of summarizing many of the asana's origins in a light hearted way without dumbing it down. You'll find yourself enjoying the poses a little more and maybe even smiling a bit when you hear them called out in class.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By brazzabuzz on September 25, 2010
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Myths from this book enrich a yoga class, giving students a sense of connection to the past in their yoga practice today. Good book for a teacher to have.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karin DeCicco on April 19, 2011
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It was great to finally find a book that breaks down the story for a lot of the yoga asana's in a crisp, concise way, all in one place. I love this book and as a yoga teacher, it is a great resource for theming my classes. For my latest class, our peak pose was Hanumanasana, and it was lovely to incorporate the story from these pages, as well as a few quotes. I will use this book again and again as a yoga teacher.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Love on September 23, 2010
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This is an excellent resource for yoga teachers and students alike. Alanna is an extremely entertaining writer and adds beautiful insight into classic tales. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in yoga.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ubalu on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
The stories and Sanskrit names of asanas used in this book are essentially from Hinduism. Yet the authors and those who have written recommendations in this book have done so without using the word Hinduism. This has been a trend in the West for some time, but it does not change the fact that Yoga came from Hinduism. Genuine traditions/schools have no reservations or fear in stating that Yoga is for everyone, but it is deeply rooted in Hinduism.

The stories are essentially Hindu, the tales Hindu children grow up with. But for yoga practitioners who have not heard these stories or known that the asanas are not just a physical culture/exercises as practiced in many places in the West, this book will be an eye-opener. The information in the book has a lot of value for such beginners.

For those who want to go deeper into Yoga, there are original works and translations available from many authentic traditions. These are written by Yoga masters, Gurus and Swamis, and available in selected book stores and University libraries. To name a few, Swami Sivananda Radha, Swami Lalithananda, Swami Rama, Swami Veda Bharathi, Swami Kuvalayananda, Swami Vishnudevananda are masters who have a lot to offer. Those who want almost all aspects of Yoga Science and Philosophy in one volume in English can refer to Mircea Eliade's intimidatingly scholarly (to the average reader) work 'Yoga: Immortality and Freedom' (This book does not instruct on how to do asanas).

Until one is ready for the study of Yoga in the higher levels, stories from Hindu scriptures will immerse the practitioner in Yoga science and philosophy. The book is well-written in an entertaining way for the popular audience, using selected versions of stories.
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More About the Author

Alanna Kaivalya is the founder of the Kaivalya Yoga Method and an internationally known teacher and author. In 2008 Yoga Journal recognized Alanna as one of the Top 21 Teachers Under 40. Her first book, Myths of the Asanas, showcased the myths behind the poses, and she has developed an e-course based on the work of Joseph Campbell called Following Bliss: A Modern Mystic's Guide to the Hero's Journey, which teaches practical tools for inspired living. In her decade-plus of studying mythology, eastern spirituality, philosophy, and yoga, she has traveled the world and taught at conferences, teacher trainings, and workshops. She offers teacher training in the Kaivalya Yoga Method as well as Pure Yoga Immersion. She is currently a PhD candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Join her community at alannak.com. 

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