119 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2000
A book to read and re-read for many, many years... an amazingly concise and complete resourse for the yoga practitioner - this is an excellent textbook featuring over 400 practices.
The description of each practice are presented in a methodical and specific manner - each technique comes with set-by-step directions on the practice; breathing awareness during the practice; benefits; contra-indications; variations and so on.
The illustrations are line drawn rather than photographs: This is an advantage, as it stops the reader from over-identifying with the photo; & becoming too dispirited by comparisons to glossy photos.
If there is a drawback to the book, it's that it can be a little overwhelming - there's a lot of information here! Fortunately it's well ordered, and well presented.
Another point is that it doesn't try to replace role of a competent teacher : it's a textbook of practices rather than a specific course of instruction.
But this doesn't detract from the book at all - merely indicates the level that the book is aimed at.
If you're looking for a distillation of authentic yoga knowledge, this really is a book to have by your side.
83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2005
There are innumerable books on yoga to be found; some emphasising the practical aspects with postures (asana), complete with colour photos - and some impossibly esoteric, meant for the select few with mystical leanings. This book combines a comprehensive overview of asana; while at the same time giving clear explanations of the deeper aspects of yoga, including breathing (pranayama), body attitudes (mudra), energy locks (bandha), energy centres (cakra), and yogic cleansing (hatha yoga).
The roots of yoga are in the ancient vedic and tantric texts; many of which have remained inaccessible to western readers until the last century. Much of the teachings were kept secret; firstly, because they had been banned by a Hindu priesthood that felt threatened by anarchic schools of self-liberation; and secondly, for fear that the powerful techniques could be misused by misguided opportunists.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati was one of the renegades who shocked the yogic establishment by not only translating the texts and teaching the techniques to western students; but then went on to publish an entire series of books, clarifying and promoting yoga in an unprecedented way.
Satyananda's other significant move was to bring yoga into the domain of medical science, and explain esoteric techniques in terms of western anatomy and physiology. He started the Bihar Yoga Bharati, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies in subjects like Yoga Psychology and Applied Yoga Science; and initiated the Yoga Research Foundation which studies the medical effects of yoga.
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (APMB) is a required text for any serious yoga aspirant. It not only clears away the mysticism around yoga left behind by the early Theosophists, and revived by the New-Ageists; but gives a sound theoretical foundation enabling one to understand the underlying purpose and efficient practice of yoga techniques.
The clarity of the illustrations and the wealth of information will ensure many years of delving into this classic reference work.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2008
This book is truly a timeless classic. I have been practicing yoga for almost six years, 1 to 4 times a day. I have many good books and DVDs on yoga. However, this book is THE most comprehensive.
I had joined a yoga studio for several months when I first began in January of 2003. The teacher taught the yoga using blocks, chair, belt and the wall. It was a good start and I attended for 4 months, two to three times a week. Whatever I learned I practiced at home, sometimes twice or more a day. Even after I discontinued class, I kept up my practice several times a day. I derived tremendous benefits from the practice. I was healed of several serious ailments, known and unknown.
I had been using the standard yoga books, such as "Light on Yoga" by BKS Iyengar, "30 Essential Yoga Poses" by Lasater, and many many others. Not to mention many DVDs by various people of repute. I found that despite my dedicated and persistent efforts I was not making headway in my ability to acquire the more advanced asanas. It seemed that there were groups of muscles in my body that would not open no matter how earnestly I applied myself.
Then I came across this book. Specifically the first three chapters. The asanas in the frist three chapters constitute the Pawanmuktasana series. I have practiced them for a week, twice a day. My body and mind seemed to have ascended into another realm. These seemingly simple asanas have a PROFOUND effect on one's being. I am at a complete loss to describe their wonderful and deep benefits. Practice of this series has done more for me in the last week than all the numerous benefits I derived through my practice over the last nearly 6 years.
I am at a total loss to explain why the Pawanmuktasana series has not been written of in other books of yoga! It is a VERY POWERFUL series to bring about a total change in the physiology and mental patterns of a person. If I had known about this series sooner I would have become a very advanced practitioner by now.
However, nothing is lost due to the delay! I only hope that people who find themselves stuck in their practice and unable to make gains, would read this review and start to practice the Pawanmuktasana series! I cannot sufficiently applaud its power and benefits.
Also to be noted is the fact that this classic text is put out by the Bihar School of Yoga founded by a great Sage -- Swami Satyananda Saraswati. This school is perhaps the only school in the world that grants degrees in yoga -- bachelors, masters and PhDs. They are in the forefront of the research being conducted in the healing of diseases through the various yogic practices. The body of knowledge that has accumulated since its founding in 1964 has found its way into the contents of this book as well. It is not a book just put together in an amateurish manner. It is LOADED and AUTHENTIC!
If one practices the seemingly simple Pawanmuktasana series alone for a fortnight, he or she will become a brand new person! One will be astonished by the transformative powers of this seemingly simple series of asanas. Since it is the tendancy of the mind to associate power with complexity, it is only natural to think of this seemingly simple series to be ineffective. You will be TRULY surprised!
The discovery of the Pawanmuktasana series is the greatest discovery of my entire yoga practice over the last six years! Such is its power!
They have the capacity to open up the body and allow the flow of energy through it like few other asana practices. Once these have been practiced for a long time, I believe the other asanas should come naturally. I cannot say for certain, since I have only practiced the Pawanmuktasana series for a week. However, by extrapolating along the gains I have made in this short duration the foregoing claim is likely to be true.
I think most people who practice yoga, do want to make progress at every stage. No one will be content to just stay at the same level year after year. If that is the case with you, then I strongly advise you to purchase this book and practice the three chapters on Pawanmuktasana in earnest.
I would also like to recommend a DVD, if I may, for the practice of Pawanmuktasana series. This DVD is "Yog Science Part 1 & 2 Pranayam & Yog Asan" by Swami Ramdev ji. It is available through Amazon and other dealers through Amazon's site. After practicing this series through the book or the DVD, I assure you your practice will improve by leaps and bounds.
My search for "THE" book and DVD on yoga has finally come to an end :-)
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2002
Excellent book which explains to some degree the "inner posture" with each asana discussed. Unlike most books, you can actually perform the asana from the instructions in this book alone.
Stops short of explaining the effect of the various asanas on the Doshas (in Ayurveda) but does list the benefits of the poses.
A must have book for any student of hatha yoga
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2007
I wrote a review of Light on Yoga, and talked about how if you could have only one text on hatha . . . Now, having seen this work, I must honestly revise that opinion. Both this and the much better-known Light are first-rate books on hatha (physical) yoga. This book, however, is quite user-friendly and much more informative about the effects of each asana. It contains information about the chakras most directly affected by the asanas, and--importantly--it discusses the counterposes that are most effective for each asana described. This last point is vital if you want to work toward structuring a practice without a class.
This book does not contain nearly as many poses as Light. And the poses are illustrated by drawings, not photos. But the drawings are wonderfully clear.
Like the title says, the book gives comprehensive insight into asana, pranayama, mudras and bandhas. It leads the reader through a complete course and progression from beginner to advanced. Advanced practitioners, though, can jump in anywhere and benefit from the book's insights, which are profound.
For anyone serious about learning yoga or deepening one's practice, this is an essential text. A wonderful complement to Light, and a stand-alone compendium that is sure to reward the reader, regardless of experience.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2000
As an Integral yoga tutor, I would recommend this book as perfect for teaching and learning. It describes class progression in a very simple way, developing sequences and postures as the book progresses into the advanced sections.
It is also a very popular book amongst the students of my beginners and improvers classes - they can directly refer to sections aimed at their ability.
I was very lucky to be given this book as a gift by a friend and would recommend it as an excellent book to introduce and cover the subject of Yoga.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2005
I rate the book highly on almost all counts, especially:
- comprehensiveness (some books ignore cleansing techniques, mudras, bandhs, spiritual areas, and some even ignore pranayama - this book covers all these areas as comprehensively as a book should)
- detail - would help if this is text is the constant companion of a yoga practitioner - the latter can read, re-read, and re-read many sections of the book and learn new things every time and integrate them into the practice
- spiritual orientation - correctly followed the book would help practitioners gain deep spiritual awareness (explains chakra focus during asanas)
- progression - the book begins with very basic practices and progresses to complex practices
Thoroughly recommended - however, a book cannot replace the guru
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2007
Don't let the title fool you, this is an excellent book on what is understood in the West to be Yoga.
The gem is really in the Beginner's Group. It is deceptively easy and yet the benefits are vast. If you have never done Yoga before, then the Beginner's Group is for you. You can't injure yourself doing it, and I suggest that (for beginners) you do ONLY the Beginner's Group for a whole year, and then move on to other parts.
I have read many Yoga books, and this book is now my menu of Yoga poses.
It is important to read the text very carefully and, if you are a beginner, to follow it exactly.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
This has the depth and style of other books from the Bihar School, it is popular, fairly easy to find on display at studios that carry yoga books, very reasonably priced, and the figures and fonts are clear.
Satyananda Saraswati is traditional in practice and beliefs relative to most "modern yoga" or "postural yoga" books, but he consistently presents in a matter-of-fact and experimental -- rather than a mystical or dogmatic -- way, making it very accessible for a westerner -- even though he is describing traditional hatha yoga, which has a lot of esoteric practices.
However, pose and technique catalogs are more valuable as references or as accompaniments to a course, and this book leans more toward the catalog format than the course format.
So, if you know you like where the Bihar School is coming from, instead, pay two or three times as much for their hard-cover titled "A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya," and you'll get quite a bit more of the school's material, and totally differently organized such that it is more suitable to work through sequentially. On the other hand, the hardcover book is often terser when it is covering the same material. Other volumes from the school expand in other directions, while also re-using a lot of material -- for example, the "Kundalini Tantra" book was an eye opener, that I can't even begin to claim to understand or have personally experienced much of.
Sometimes my jaw drops when I read the Bihar school's stuff, and I feel blessed that the school has so kindly and widely shared their extensive knowledge in a plain-spoken way. Either "Asana Pranayama Murdra Bandha" or "A Systematic Course ..." would be a very good place to find out whether their teaching suits you.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2010
This book is SO fantastic, I've been practicing yoga for about 17 years. I have had many yoga books and videos. I'm not into class room yoga because I always feel rushed in and out of poses. I was always looking for a new yoga book that would actually have some nicely thought out Asana sequences. This is it! I bought this book about a year and a half ago, it is my bible.
Clear instructions about breathing during movements, where to focus your attention. Finding flexibility and peace of mind through subtle poses. I would recommend this book to anyone at any level of yoga practice.