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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 1999
This book is an excellent guide to astanga yoga. For beginers, or experienced practicioners.
If you're looking for an exercise routine, you can't do better than this.
Astanga yoga builds strength, flexiblity, stamina, discipline and mental quiet. It won't change your life overnight. But bit by bit as you start to feel healthier, and better about your body, the way you perceive the world changes as well. But everything comes very slowly, as it should.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 1999
This book is a must have for anyone interested in realigning their body and overcoming injury. While most of us will never duplicate some of the more difficult poses, with practice - most of them can be achieved. The author makes it very clear that mastering this yoga work is not done quickly or easily. Do not buy this book if you are not willing to work hard. This book is geared mainly toward preventing and recovering from injury - realigning the body thru strength and stretch work. There is quite a bit of text dealing with injury and misalignment - explaining the benefits and process of healing. Also explained in great detail is the proper breathing technique for this practice. The breath is an important part of *heating up* the body. This heat enables the body to perform the stretch work safely. The only complaint I have about this book is that the picture labeling is difficult to follow. If the book is reprinted, this should be addressed.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2000
I purchased Power Yoga after attending classes at my gym, since I wanted a yoga workout that I could do at home. This book certainly has served that purpose, and it following the workout increased my strength and flexibility tremendously. The pictures are very helpful in getting into the various poses from the series. There is also a great deal of information in the book concerning yoga history and practices which was interesting for a beginner. The biggest problem that I have had with the book is that I think that it would be very difficult for someone who had never taken a yoga class with a live teacher to understand what is called for by some of the positions. I believe that this book is best used as a home supplement to taking a yoga class with an experienced teacher who can guide the student through the asanas (postures) and help correct them if need be. The book also does not really discuss meditation before or after a workout, which I have found to be tremendously relaxing.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2002
This book could have been half as long if Birch wasn't so interested in talking about herself. For the most part, this is book about why Birch practices yoga.
Certainly there is a lot of quality content here, but it is sparse and has been covered more thoroughly by other authors (Schiffmann and Farhi for philosophy, Kraftsow for yoga therapy, and David Swenson for asanas).
The program which Birch recommends is basically a watered-down ashtanga yoga workout in the primary series, with a few embellishments.
When this book was initially released, it would have been a very valuable addition to any yogi's library. However, with the current selection of books and videos covering this subject, it has become obsolete and unneccessary.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2001
This book is one of the few books out there to deal with the ashtanga system. It is very readable; I personally enjoyed the author's personal, conversational style of writing. The pictures and text describe the postures very well, and the author is good at stressing that one should work within their limitations. I don't think anyone should buy this thinking that they will be able to practice ashtanga on their own at home, without any outside instruction. Maybe you would do alright if you were already familiar with basic yoga postures; even then the vinyasa (the linking or "flow" postures) is still very difficult, and, in my opinion, impossible to do without "live" instruction. The book probably works best as an adjunct to classes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 1999
This book is excellent. It really helped me to further my practice at home. It has a lot of helpful information. Now that I'm teaching Power Yoga, I recommend it to my students.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 1999
This book has changed my life. If you take the time to read her instructions, this book will teach you, step by step how to properly practice astanga yoga.
Beware -- many of the positions are impossible to start off with, that's why she includes several work arounds for those not flexible enough to hold the positions yet. These workarounds are what prevent you from getting hurt and gradually teach your body to be able to do all the difficult positions.
Since starting astanga, I am becoming as flexible as when I was a child and stronger than during my years of weight lifting. My running, posture and sleeping have also improved as has my sense of general well being.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is almost as good as having a personal trainer with you as she walks you through every single position and transition between positions.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2003
As a previous reviewer said the Primary Series should not be learned solely through a book. This book does the best job of breaking down most of the difficult poses, offering great modification poses to help work a person into the pose that's part of the series. For instance the half bound lotus forward bend is by not means an easy pose (at least not for me). Bender offers beginner and intermediate modifications to help you work to the full version of the pose. She does this throughout the book giving the reader a chance to build up his/her endurence while he/she is learning the series. I used this book in conjunction with Julie Pegrum's "Ashtanga Yoga: The Complete Mind and Body Workout" Book. Together they are the next best thing to going to class. Overall, I have seen nothing better that helps a person learn the Primary Series, and at the same time, making finishing it semi-attainable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2004
I am personally having a great experience with this book. The explanations are clear, the pictures are very helpful, and the beginner modifications are encouraging since most people including myself do not start out as very flexible. After reading some of the other reviews, however, I've concluded that the book is probably most helpful for those who are already in good physical condition. Some of even the beginning asanas take a moderate amount of strength. If you do not think that you can do 5-6 pushups or hold your weight with your arm strength, it would probably be better for you to take a class where a teacher could spot you and give you more specific instruction.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This book has many great pictures and a lot of good theory. I especially like the sayings that summarize the book at the end, e.g. "Even iron will bend if you heat it up" etc. However, this is not a book for a beginner of yoga like myself. I had taken power yoga at the gym and thought that it was an easy type of yoga (not meaning that it isn't hard work physically), or at least easy to get into and get a lot out of. This book makes it a lot harder and might even discourage people. But perhaps yoga is best taught live and not by the book?
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