DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jan 26 2011

Stretching into the new year

by Dea Anne M

Despite this post’s title, I’ve never been a maker of New Year’s resolutions, but this year I have decided to rededicate myself to a regular yoga practice. I have practiced yoga on and off for years now and I truly love it and its wonderful effects. Are you interested? Classes are great, but not always practical for many of us. Luckily, DCPL has plenty of resources to help you start, or resurrect, a home practice.

When I was first starting out, I learned from books. Here are just a few of the useful titles that you’ll find on the shelves of DCPL.

For a solid guide to basic yoga practice, check out Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics: the essential beginner’s guide to yoga for a lifetime of health and fitness by Mara Carrico and the editors of Yoga Journal. This well-illustrated book provides instructions for the basic postures, breathing tips, and sample routines. I particularly like the photos that illustrate correct and incorrect methods of performing each posture. Yoga Journal (carried at DCPL!) is itself a great resource for anyone interested in yoga and this book would be a good complement to both formal instruction and/or home practice.

I actually own a copy of Yoga the Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta and consult it often as a reference. The emphasis in Iyengar style yoga is on correct alignment and often employees props such as belts and blocks and modifications of the poses to prevent injury. It’s a terrific approach to yoga for beginners and makes a great discipline as an ongoing practice or as a launching point for exploring other forms. The Mehta’s book is both thorough and precise and I highly recommend it.

Pressed for time? Try Yoga for Busy People: increase energy and reduce stress in minutes a day by Dawn Groves. Feeling creaky? Check out Yoga for Wimps: poses for the flexibly impaired by Miriam Austin. Chained to your computer? Consider Desktop Yoga: the anytime, anywhere relaxation program for office slaves, Internet addicts, and stressed-out students by Julie T. Lusk.

DVDs are a great tool for learning yoga and for ongoing practice. These days, I prefer using DVDs for my own practice and there are a wealth of offerings at DCPL.

An excellent series is Total Yoga from Tracy Rich and Ganga White. The series includes the basic practice as well as Earth, Water, and Fire with each DVD presenting increasing challenge.

Along with its excellent magazine, Yoga Journal produces a great series of instructional DVDs and few are better for beginners than Yoga for Beginners with Patricia Walden. Also, be sure to checkout A.M. & P.M. Yoga with (again) Patricia Walden and Rodney Yee.

Don’t let a lack of space at home keep you from starting a yoga practice. Instead, check out Living Room Yoga: strengthen and lengthen and Living Room Yoga: twist and bend. The DVDs are filmed in what looks like somebody’s actual living room and the instructor, Eve Barash teaches classes in homes through Brooklyn and Manhatten so you know that she understands that most of us are not walking into a dedicated home studio for our practice.

One of my current favorite DVDs to practice with is Fluid Power: vinyasa flow yoga with Shiva Rea. The DVD provides 6 pre-set practices as well as the option to use the “yoga matrix” to mix and match segments to create your own custom practices. The DVD is challenging (to say the least) but fun and exhilerating and if you already have some yoga experience I would highly recommend it.

Finally, I am looking forward to reading Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses by Claire Dederer. Currently on order at DCPL, this memoir promised to be a sharp, funny antidote to some of the aura around yoga which can seem either vaguely cultish or a little too holier-than-thou to many.

Are you a yoga fan? What are some of your favorite resources?

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