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Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Paperback – August 1, 2013
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Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha has been recognised internationally as one of tthe most systematic yoga manuals available today. This enlarged and revised edition provides clear illustrations,step by step directions and details of chakra awareness. It guides the practioner or teacher easily through the practices,from the simplest to the most advanced. A new therapeutic index has been included for use by doctors and yoga therapists,incorporating recent information fron research into yoga. This edition succesfully brings the expositon of yoga practices to the standard of a university text.
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What I mean is clear as soon as you open the book. Instead of photos of lithe yogins and yoginis (think Schiffmann) or intimidating poses of Iyengaresque perfection, what you get is simple black and white drawings with lots of descriptive text. Readers searching for a soft and cuddly yoga text might be put off by this, but they would be cheating themselves if they then closed the book. For what is contained in these pages is quite possibly the most complete and authoritative "cookbook" for yoga practice I've ever seen.
Those who've read my review of LoY may well be surprised by this statement. Indeed, there are ways in which LoY is definitely superior-most notably in its extensive five-year plus asana program, as well as therapeutic programs to treat specific ailments. But there are also ways-important ways-that Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (henceforth APMB) has the edge.
First is the organization of the asanas. In Iyengar's text asanas proceed generally from less advanced to more advanced, but there are no internal divisions among the asanas. For example, if you want to find just the forward bending asanas, you can't do it via the table of contents. Instead, you'll have to sift through the text, looking at the pictures or, if you know the specific asanas you're looking for, go to the index. If you're just going by Iyengar's routine as outlined in the back of the text, this is okay, but if you're wanting to use the book in a more free-style fashion, then this is less than ideal.
APMB, by contrast, is intelligently arranged for someone who wants to take charge of their yoga routine. A peek at the table of contents immediately shows what I mean. The major division is by experience level-beginner's group, intermediate group, and advanced group-but then within each of these groups the asanas are arranged according to their specific characteristics. So for example, under the intermediate group you have asanas that employ padmasana, or forward bending practices, or spinal twisting, etc. The beginner's group is especially well suited for complete neophytes, and it would be advice well heeded to not begin the intermediate practices until you're thoroughly comfortable them. They include warm-ups (the pawanmuktasana series), relaxation postures, standing postures, vajrasana-based postures and others, including surya and chandra namaskara.
I think also the descrptions for each asana are in general better than in LoY. A typical posture has the following: a black and white hand drawn picture, a detailed description of how to enter and exit the pose, then, each with bold headings (to easily pick them out), details on breathing, duration (how long to hold, how many times to do), awareness (where to concentrate), sequence (in relation to other postures), contraindications and benefits. What more could you possibly ask for?
And this is just for asanas. Fully 160 pages are devoted to detailed discussions of a progressive pranayma course, mudras (and how to integrate them into practice), and bandhas. As an added bonus, you even get a section on shatkarma-practices on physical and mental "cleansing". By comparison, Iyengar devotes a measley 37 pages to these subjects, but has nothing on mudras or shatkarma.
I guess the only serious complaint I have about the book is that it lacks the sort of pre-programmed courses that are so helpful in LoY. This is sort of made up for in the sections on "sequence"; however, it seems the writers at the Bihar School of Yoga are still practicing an approach to asana that seems to have gone out of style in the last twenty years or so. This is the notion that every pose should be followed by its "counter-pose." (Please someone correct me on this if I have gotten it wrong!) Erich Schiffmann suggests a quite different approach (pp. 349-50), which I've adopted: e.g. emphasis on standing postures one day, then forward bends, then backbends, then the cycle repeats. Every day should have twists and inversions, and you're never too old for sun salutations. APMB is perfect if you adopt this mode of practice, because the organization of the text is tailored to suit. Yet another point in this fine work's column!
The only other suggestion for improvement I would make is that the section on yogic "subtle" physiology probably should have been moved up toward the front of the book, before the asanas, as part of the general course on yoga terminology. As it stands now, someone reading into the text will see references to visuddhi chakra etc and possibly not know what this means because the terms are not introduced until the end. This is a small complaint though, and I think it would be hard for anyone to go wrong with this book.
This is how one can experiment with oneself to find true unity(yoga) with the All. Hatha yoga is not a workout. The purpose isn't to get wash board abs. The many physical benefits are just a drop in the bucket compared to everything else this science has to offer for humanity.
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 :-)