‘Tis the season for not only receiving extra pounds, but also extra stress. For years yoga has been used as a wonderful exercise for improving dexterity, stamina, balance, and weight-loss; and yoga can also help you de-stress during the busy holiday season. Modern yoga draws mainly from one branch of the different traditions; Hatha Yoga which focuses on the body and its movements. The deliberate and mindful nature of the asanas (yoga poses) with pranayama (breathing) contribute to a meditative state for many yoga practitioners. Yoga has a long history of use in Indian religions and different schools of Buddhism dating back to the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga is one of those great activities you can do as much as you’d like with it; you can follow along with a DVD or class, you could study philosophy and meditate, you can practice while pregnant then later with the baby, and you can learn as much or as little as you’d like on your own.
My favorite materials available from DCPL:
Yoga Body, Buddha Mind: Cyndi Lee – More than just pictures of a wide variety of postures, a modern Buddhist and yoga teacher intersperses her poses with some background on yoga, Buddhism, meditation, and breathing. An accessible work for those interested in a little more than just the postures and exercise, but also don’t want to read a lengthly religious tome.
Power Yoga Stamina (VHS) with Rodney Yee – Pretty much any Rodney Yee videorecording is good, I like the Stamina best of all. This is a video for beginner-intermediate yogis as he be too fast for those who do not already know the asanas, but its just the right length of time and difficulty to get my heart pumping and my mind engaged.
Total Yoga Flow Series: Water – The three-part series includes: Earth, Water, and Fire each focusing on a different level of yoga and different focus. The Water is the intermediate level with a focus on flexibility and grace. All three are interesting and useful in their own way often including some extra like a guided meditation or breathing exercise, but the menus are a challenging to navigate and the scene selection was a bit off.
Yoga : the path to holistic health: B.K.S. Iyengar – Giant book of poses from one of the most respected teachers in the world. The asanas are photographed from various angles and health benefits are noted along with the entry fro each posture. An essential reference, especially for those learning without the benefit of a teacher.
The Shambhala guide to yoga: Georg Feuerstein – Interested in history, philosophy, religion, or other yoga traditions? This book is great for people who want a good introduction to what yoga is beyond ‘downward-facing dog’.