- Paperback: 244 pages
- Publisher: Inner Traditions; Revised edition (March 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 089281764X
- ISBN-13: 978-0892817641
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice Revised Edition
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" . . . a milestone in the transmission of yoga from the ancient masters to the modern world." (Bodhi Tree Book Review, Winter 1999 / Spring 2000)
“Read this book from cover to cover and you will begin to understand what yoga is all about.” (The Sunday Times)
“Those who are interested in understanding what yoga is about, those who are looking for a larger context and focus for their hatha practice, those who look to the Yoga Su-tra for guidance, and all those who have loved and benefited from Krishnamacharya and/or Desikachar, directly or indirectly, will want this book.” (Yoga International)
“An invaluable source of information regarding the theory and practice of yoga. A must for students and teachers alike.” (Indra Devi, author of Yoga for You)
“Desikachar speaks from the heart with tenderness as well as an engineer's careful attention to details and individuality.” (LA Yoga, January 2011)
"I can think of no better book to recommend to a friend beginning to be excited by yoga but bewildered by the plethora of different schools and their sometimes-conflicting teachings. In addition, I would be hard-pressed to think of a book I would recommend more highly to any yoga student seeking to deepen a yoga practice . . . The great gift of The Heart of Yoga lies not simply in the depth of Desikachar's learning, but in the compassion, gentleness, practicality, and down-to-earth spirit that permeate the book." (Yoga Journal)
From the Back Cover
“I can think of no better book to recommend to a friend beginning to be excited by yoga but bewildered by the plethora of different schools and their sometimes‑conflicting teachings. In addition, I would be hard‑pressed to think of a book I would recommend more highly to any yoga student seeking to deepen a yoga practice . . . The great gift of The Heart of Yoga lies not simply in the depth of Desikachar’s learning, but in the compassion, gentleness, practicality, and down‑to‑earth spirit that permeate the book.”
“Read this book from cover to cover and you will begin to understand what yoga is all about.”
--The Sunday Times
“Those who are interested in understanding what yoga is about, those who are looking for a larger context and focus for their hatha practice, those who look to the Yoga Su-tra for guidance, and all those who have loved and benefited from Krishnamacharya and/or Desikachar, directly or indirectly, will want this book.”
“An invaluable source of information regarding the theory and practice of yoga. A must for students and teachers alike.”
--Indra Devi, author of Yoga for You
Śrī Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived to be over 100 years old, was one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Elements of Krishnamacharya’s teaching have become well known around the world through the work of B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who all studied with Krishnamacharya in their early years. Krishnamacharya’s son T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father all his life and now teaches the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya’s yoga. Desikachar has based his method on Krishnamacharya’s fundamental teaching, which maintains that practices must be continually adapted to the individual’s changing needs to achieve the maximum therapeutic value.
In The Heart of Yoga Desikachar offers a distillation of his father’s system as well as his own practical approach, which he describes as “a program for the spine at every level--physical, mental, and spiritual.” This is the first yoga text to outline a step‑by‑step sequence for developing a complete practice according to the age‑old principles of yoga. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga--poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy--and shows how the yoga student may develop a practice tailored to his or her current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle. Krishnamacharya placed the highest value on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which is included here in its entirety, with a translation and commentary by Desikachar. Added to this second edition of The Heart of Yoga is the Yogān͂jalisāram--thirty‑two poems composed by Krishnamacharya that capture the essence of his teachings and further make The Heart of Yoga a milestone in the transmission of yoga from the ancient masters to the modern world. A structural engineer by training, T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father until Krishnamacharya’s death in 1989. He has devoted his life to yoga instruction for people of all backgrounds and all levels of ability, and currently teaches at the school founded in his father’s memory in Madras, as well as in Europe, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
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Top customer reviews
There is a lot of emphasis on how the breath and the postures work together. This is probably the best explanation I have ever read.
One of my teachers has this book with him and he plans his lessons from it.
I also found this volume to be well balanced. It covered a lot of ground and had a broad scope, but it was not overwhelming in any way. It really did a great job of covering the essentials of yoga philosophy, principles of joining breath with movement, connecting poses and varying poses.
The book also contains a good introduction to pranayama and presents the basics of the bandhas. The material on the mental and moral application of yoga are also well done, but not over done. I also liked that the book included a pronunciation guide for Sanskrit and 60 pages of a translation of parts of the yoga sutras of Patanjali with insightful commentary.
If you are looking for a book that explains how to do particular asanas, then this isn't your best choice although it does include a short section on Four General Practice Sequences.
This book does NOT provide detailed instruction on how to perform particular asanas. For this, you might try 30 Essential Yoga Poses by Judith Lasater, Dancing the Body of Light by Dona Holleman (a must have) or Back Care Basics by Mary Pullig Schatz M.D. (don't let the title full you, it's a great general introduction to yoga, especially for people starting later in life).
The Heart of Yoga will compliment any of the books above, which are not nearly as strong with respect to how to construct a yoga practice on your own.
There are many interesting points Desikachar makes in his approach to asana sequencing: the importance of breath, the importance of tailoring the pose (and the sequence) to the individual, the importance of resting before engaging in a counter pose.
One of my favorite quotes from this book (attributed to the Mahabharata) is
“Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear. That is the eternal law, the dharma.” To my mind this is much more practicable to practice than “Always tell the truth”.
“We can never experience our real nature if we do not expose ourselves to change”.
I take this as at once being both a caution in life style, and also in becoming too comfortable in one’s yogic pursuits, including asanas and meditation.
Then we get to “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali” with Translation and Commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar.
“If you tell a person who cannot find their own house that there is a pot of gold inside, they would be happier had they not had this information. What use is the gold if it cannot be found? It only causes pain. First they must find the house and enter it. Then there are many possibilities.”
I take this to mean that everyone must start at the beginning…everyone must find their own house [way, path].
His views on dualism: (3.35 “The mind, which is subject to change, and the Perceiver, which is not are in proximity but are of distinct and different characters.” as opposed to Reductionism are also presented in this book. This Dualistic approach is softened later
“Thus the mind serves a dual purpose. It serves the Perceiver by presenting the external to it. It also respects or presents the Perceiver to itself for its own enlightenment.”
leaving open the possibility of a more Reductionist interpretation.
This section of the book is the one I shall most refer to in future.