The Power of Ashtanga Yoga by Kino MacGregor

The Power of Ashtanga Yoga: Developing a Practice That Will Bring You Strength, Flexibility, and Inner Peace--Includes the complete Primary SeriesThe Power of Ashtanga Yoga: Developing a Practice That Will Bring You Strength, Flexibility, and Inner Peace–Includes the complete Primary Series by Kino MacGregor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Head to any bookstore, whether brick and mortar or online, and you will find a wide variety of yoga books. All will have different titles and claim to have the secrets to yoga and ground breaking practices that will literally change your life. Knowing this I am always just a little hesitant to take on another yoga book. Most of the time you can take a variety of books on yoga set them side by side and you will notice that they all say essentially the same thing. I was pleasantly surprised that The Power of Ashtanga Yoga by Kino MacGregor is not one of those books.

The foundation of the book is the same as you will get in any yoga manual. Part I is a collection of information about the history of yoga in general, the history of Ashtanga yoga as well as a description of how it differs from other forms of yoga (Ashtanga for instance is broken into six groups of poses that must be studied in order). Part I also has a wonderful section on our relationships to food and how yoga can help us to realize these relationships and come to terms with them.

Part II of the book is the instructional part of the book. This part of the book is very detailed (you can easily compare it to the instructions given by Iyengar in The Light on Yoga). It also contains many wonderful photographs that show exactly what was described in the descriptions of the asanas. The best section of Part II is the section on Bandhas. I have read many yoga books that try to explain how to achieve a Bandhas but usually the language here becomes poetic and if you have not been introduced to the bandhas in a class the reader will more than likely finish the section having no idea how to achieve the bandha. MacGregor however lays out the bandha instructions clearly and concisely and it is for this conversation alone that I believe this book is great addition to any yoga book collection.

The Power of Ashtanga Yoga also contains a wonderful collection of Appendixes that outline the Sun Salutations and a Glossary that is impressively comprehensive.

As a resource the book is fantastic and would be a great addition to any library no matter what type of yoga you practice. Perhaps the most unique thing about this book though is the voice. It is not often that you can pick up an instruction manual and feel as if you are connecting with the person. From the introduction to the glossary MacGregor lays it out there for you and inserts her own experiences so you feel as if your time spent with the book is like time spent in the company of a knowledgeable yoga instructor.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in yoga. No matter what type of yoga you practice the advice and knowledge between the covers is universal and accessible. I personally cannot wait for the publication of this book in May of this year… it will be on my shelf right next to another classic The Light on Yoga.

NOTE: I was given this book by the publisher to read and review. In no way does that affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

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Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison

Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to  EnlightenmentYoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is it about yoga memoirs as of late? They are all deeply moving while at the same time being incredibly funny. I love it! Suzanne Morrison is fantastically funny and there is so much of her experience with her yoga teacher training that I can relate to. Although I have to say that there were no “piss drinkers” in my class (at least not that I know of… hmmm there was that one person whom I thought always smelled a little of… no, no I am pretty sure there were no piss drinkers in my yoga teacher training).

At one point while reading this book (I will admit it, it was when the farting in class came up in the book) that I was laughing so hard that my husband had to ask me what the heck I was doing and when I replied that I was reading about honking like Ganesha I think he sort of rolled his eyes.

Beside being truly entertaining this book spoke a little to the falseness yoga can sometimes foster in some of the students and teachers. I have to admit the more I paid for yoga the more disconnected I felt from my yoga. I dislike the commercialization of yoga and yet I make handmade yoga mat bags and sell them. I much like Morrison, feel that there is this HUGE contradiction in the way Americans (and most likely other people around the world) practice yoga. I have learned to accept that it is just a reality of life and of yoga. Some of us just feel the call of all the “shiny happy things” more than others.

Besides the cigarette smoking, I really like Morrison as a person (at least as the person she comes across in her writing I do not actually know her…). I learned a lot from her book, mainly that we really are all the same when it comes down to it, we even experience spiritual journeys in very similar ways.

Read this book to laugh, to think and to inspire you to make your practice your own.

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