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Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques Paperback – May 25, 2010
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“Whether you’re already a yoga teacher, aspiring to be one, or just seeking to deepen your understanding and practice of yoga, Mark Stephens’ thoughtful, eloquent, and thorough book would be a valuable addition to your library… In Teaching Yoga, he covers all the basic topics you’d hope to find in a comprehensive teacher training class… Stephens’ deep understanding of, and appreciation for, the practice and fruits of yoga constantly illuminate his writing. That spirit gives force to his gentle insistence that all yoga teachers must look inside to find – and share with their students – their own authentic expression of yoga.”
“Mark Stephens’s all-encompassing tome for both new and experienced teachers [offers] an exhaustive overview of philosophy, history, yoga styles, and guidelines for practice... Authoritative and engaging, but never dogmatic, Teaching Yoga will help instructors fine-tune their classroom skills and empower their personal practice.”
—Yoga+Joyful Living Magazine
“Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens is a great resource, not just for yoga teachers but for practitioners of all levels. It covers everything from yoga philosophy and history to the intricacies of the poses, breathing practices and meditation... The foreword is sweetly written by Mariel Hemingway and only serves to enhance this must-read for any practicing or aspiring yogi.”
—Wisconsin State Journal
“Mark Stephens, a teacher of teachers, has created a comprehensive and inspiring guide for yoga teachers and serious practitioners alike. In these pages, he offers us the fruit of his years of rigorous practice, his deep contemplation, and his understanding of what really matters in yoga. Filled with tips and secrets for finding the inner core of asana, gently but firmly puncturing myths, this book is a brilliant merger of traditional wisdom with contemporary rigor and insight. It should be on the shelf of everyone who loves the practice of yoga.”
—Sally Kempton, Yoga Journal’s “Wisdom” columnist and author of The Heart of Meditation: Pathways to a Deeper Experience
“Comprehensive, deeply insightful, and chock full of tips and techniques for teaching and doing yoga, Mark Stephens's Teaching Yoga will be required reading for yoga teachers, teacher trainers, and serious students alike. We heartily recommend this essential new contribution to the conscious evolution of yoga.”
—Joel Kramer, coauthor with Diana Alstad of The Passionate Mind Revisited: Expanding Personal and Social Awareness
“Teaching Yoga is an urgently needed manual that will be a valuable tool in the arsenal of aspiring yoga teachers to add perspective and to hone their skills. It provides a wealth of foundational information, advice, tips, guidance, and grist for the mill.”
—Ganga White, founder, White Lotus Yoga Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, and author of Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice
“Teaching Yoga is friendly, well thought out, helpful, clear, and tremendously thorough. Many people will benefit from this gift, it being exactly what is needed to help a growing teacher teach at his or her best. I’m glad it is finally in print and it is coming out just in time for my next teacher training!”
—Erich Schiffmann, author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
“Mark Stephens is making a real offering to yoga teachers, providing practical tools and inspiration for the path that embraces all forms of embodied yoga. There are hard-to-find gems that make this a great resource, from the section of the mythological meaning behind the asanas to teaching cues for the core asanas and sequencing tools from vinyasa krama. Enjoy this great resource and dive deep into your own transformation of teaching yoga.”
—Shiva Rea, leading instructor of Transformational Prana Flow Yoga and Yoga Trance Dance
“Yoga teachers and their students will love this book. Mark Stephens untangles the complexities of yoga philosophy, history, and energetics, offers clear and compelling techniques for teaching and exploring asanas, pranayama, and meditation, and gives teachers a rich array of practical tools for planning and sequencing classes, working with diverse students, and teaching with integrity and authenticity. Teaching Yoga should be in the hands of every teacher and dedicated student.”
—Seane Corn, yoga teacher and founder, Off the Mat, Into the World
“Yoga luminary Mark Stephens has written a book that embodies Hatha yoga itself, offering a highly informative guide for all yoga teachers. Teaching Yoga answers our questions and addresses our controversies. This comprehensive and scholarly guide is now required reading for our teaching staff.”
—Mary Lynn Fitton, founder and director of programs, The Art of Yoga Project
“Dedicated yoga students and their teachers will find Mark Stephens's comprehensive book an essential and timeless resource. Filled with profound insights presented with clarity and intelligence, Teaching Yoga is a wonderful resource that beautifully models the practice of yoga itself; it unites many diverse threads of truth into a cohesive, vibrant whole. It has quickly become an indispensable part of my teaching library.”
—Daniel Stewart, cofounder and director, Rising Lotus Yoga, Los Angeles, California
“Fifteen years after starting a successful movement to bring yoga into inner city schools, prisons, treatment centers, and veteran’s facilities, Mark Stephens is back with a treasure trove of wisdom and insight drawn from years of training teachers for success in those settings as well as more traditional yoga spaces such as studios, retreats, and conferences. Teaching Yoga is destined to be a classic that every yoga teacher and student will consult for years to come.”
—James Wvinner, yogi and cofounder, Yoga, Tribe, and Culture
“Teaching Yoga is a wonderful addition to the growing collection of books being created for yoga teachers… [Stephens’] writing is friendly, clear, helpful and thorough.”
“Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques is the first comprehensive guide written for practicing and would-be yoga teachers and their students, covering yoga's history, philosophy, and basic teaching methods. It follows the teacher training curriculum standards set by Yoga Alliance and blends traditional yoga with modern techniques and over 150 photos and anatomy illustrations. Any new age or yoga collection must have this!”
—Midwest Book Review, Reviewer’s Choice
“Mark Stephens’ Teaching Yoga offers a fantastic primer for the beginning teacher or those interested in learning more about the many facets of the philosophy and practice of yoga. Stephens is obviously a seasoned student and teacher, and even though the book is written at an expert level, it is still accessible and easy to understand. Stephens’ text offers a great gift for coming generations: what a pleasure to have all of this information in one place.”
“Steeped in the knowledge of classical yoga and modern adaptations, Stephens manages to make the practice of yoga accessible to experienced teachers, new teachers, and students.”
—A Garden Carried in the Pocket
“This has to be the most comprehensive book on yoga I've ever read. It is definitely more than just your typical 'how-to' yoga book… I have been thoroughly impressed.”
—Kari, Reading For Sanity
About the Author
An esteemed yoga teacher and teacher trainer who has trained over 1,000 yoga teachers, Mark Stephens conducts classes, workshops, and retreats worldwide. The founder of Yoga Inside Foundation, L.A. Yoga Center, and the recipient of Yoga Journal's first annual Karma Yoga Award in 2000. The author of Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes (North Atlantic Books, 2012), he lives and teaches in Santa Cruz, CA.
Foreword contributor Mariel Hemingway is an actress and longtime yoga practitioner and teacher.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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For the student whose practice is primarily home-based, this book is your instructor. Stephens discusses 92 different asanas, including preparatory poses, how to get into the pose, suggestions for refinement, and follow-up positions. His recommendations for sequencing a class will help you create more effective routines that will maximize the benefits of pose. For example, backbends tend to be energizing and are best placed early in your program. Follow up with twists and core work to neutralize the extreme positions of the backbends. Forward bends calm the nervous system and help the body wind down from your practice. Stephens offers basic templates for beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes if you prefer to follow a pre-set routine. He also offers suggestions on yoga poses and modifications for various injuries, stating clearly that this is not to take the place of advice from your health care provider. Other sections address the chakras, the menstrual cycle, and each trimester of pregnancy.
The book covers more than just asanas. It also explores the history and development of yoga from its ancient sources to the varieties available today. Subtle energies affected by yoga are described--chakras, bandhas, nodi, prana, gunas, and doshas. Detailed anatomy, including musculature, joints, and movement, educates the reader about the interplay of the body and the asanas. A number of chapters focus on instructor concerns such as creating a welcoming and conducive class environment, running a class, how to give cues, and professional issues, which gives students an insight into teaching.
Stephens ends with appendices which cover notes for each chapter, a glossary of terms, pronunciation and translation of asana names, teaching resources, and a useful table of 111 asana elements.
While directed at the yoga instructor, this book also benefits the yoga student by providing information that the self-directed individual can use to enhance and further her or his practice. It’s a fabulous contribution to the yoga community.
In the middle of such a situation, the arrival of Mark Stephens' book is more than a blessing. The author has trained more than 700 yoga teachers and is the Director of the Teacher Training Program at Santa Cruz Yoga (CA). He has studied various yoga styles (Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, yoga therapy, and Vinyasa Flow) and is well versed in yoga history and philosophy. The book includes various practical tables for easy consultation, numerous photographs, a rich bibliography, a very helpful list of yoga teaching resources (yoga websites, yoga associations, and institutes and research centers), a comprehensive list of yoga poses, and a summary of the yoga sequences followed by six major yoga schools.
The first four chapters present the roots of modern yoga and the physiological and mental components of yoga practices. Other chapters deal with teaching yoga poses, breathing techniques and meditation. Three excellent chapters (5, 6 and 10) give useful guidelines and tips for yoga teaching, such as options in conducting a class, the teacher's language and voice, the relationship between teacher and student (including how to deal with feelings of attraction), the use of props and music, how to organize the sequencing of a class, and many other critical subjects. In these chapters, Stephens shares with the readers the lessons he learned as a seasoned teacher. He properly illustrates his instructions with the philosophical foundations of yoga, based mainly on Patanjali's almost two-thousand year old Yoga Sutras.
Inspired by the idea that in yoga, like in travelling, what is important is the journey, not the destination, Stephens affirms, "Yoga is not a practice of attainment; it is an unending process of self-discovery and self-transformation," and teachers are just facilitators and guides. Through the entire book, he is guided by the idea that the role of the yoga teacher is to assist in the discovery of the inner teacher that all of us have inside ourselves; this is indeed the Socratic approach to teach. He also insists on the beneficial powers of adaptation and innovation in teaching yoga to better respond to the needs of every student. The last chapter is dedicated to the yoga profession; here, Stephens mentions some difficult topics such as regulations, teachers' fees, liability insurance, teacher's training and certification, how to start teaching as an apprentice, and other interesting subjects. Although he does not provide his personal views on many of these points, he raises them and alerts us to give proper consideration to them.
This is an excellent book, full of wisdom and information for anyone interested in yoga practice or in teaching. Nevertheless, the book could be improved by taking care of some caveats. It is desirable that in a revised edition the index would incorporate all the authors, as well as the yoga poses mentioned in the text. The name of the poses should appear with both the Sanskrit and English names.