Reviewed by Clare Brook
Yoga is learning to come back to yourself. It’s finding your limits, expanding your boundaries and being able to truly relax into who you are.
The introduction to The Classic Yoga Bible, by Christina Brown, gives an explanation of yoga, and its intended benefits. Often, yoga is misrepresented as only a set of exercises to aid balance, strength and suppleness, all of which it does, but there is so much more to understand about this ancient art. In the Yoga-sutra, written 2500 years ago, Patanjali defined yoga as ‘the cessation of the turnings of the mind’, or bringing the self to a harmonious state. The mind tends to be a chattering, jumpy organ, forever roaming in all directions, not completely concentrating on the present moment. Christina explains that in trying to achieve a yoga posture, a tangible goal of controlling the body, it becomes easier to move on to the intangible stillness of the mind.
Christina covers the less publicized ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ dealing with moral aspects, some of which are: ‘yama’ moral restraint controlling actions, thoughts and speech, ‘ahimsa’, non-violence and compassion for all that is living, ‘satya’, truthfulness, and, ‘asteya’, covetousness and non-materialism. It becomes clear that yoga, as understood in the East, is a complete guide to living.
The benefits of the ‘asanas’, or postures, are made clear with explanations on breathing techniques, how often to practice, an the intensity to aim for, and how to start off, slowly increasing the challenge of each posture.
Part Two, ‘The Practice’, is a comprehensive run down on the different postures, 150 of them. For beginners there is a guide on how to achieve each pose. There are also postures for those ready to be challenged to attempt higher levels. Perhaps the beginner might need more detailed help on how to get into a pose and how to develop smooth transition from one posture to another.
In this section there are also chapters on: relaxation, pranayama – breath, life, and energy, gazes and the mudras, intended to cause an alteration in the body’s vital force, to harness the life force.
Part Three, ‘Yoga With a Special Focus’, gives postures that are best for de-stressing, healing, along with various types of meditation.
Part Four, ‘Finding Your Yoga’, lists the nine braches of yoga. Whereas in the West Hatha yoga is most commonly taught, Christina names other forms and explains each branch listing its benefits.
The Classic Yoga Bible, is a chunky little book, easy to transport to the gym to use as a reference, a most useful tool for those who have attended a few classes but want to continue now at their own speed. It is a comprehensive guide to the whole practice of yoga not always understood in the West.
Christina Brown is a well-qualified, long-time yoga and complementary medicine practitioner. She has been practising Yoga since 1989 and teaching for over two decades. In 1999, Christina also trained to teach Pilates. She runs Yoga Source in Sydney, where she also conducts workshops on Ayurveda and Anti-Aging Facial Yoga. She believes:
‘If your practice gives you a sense of expansion and joy, then it’s the right practice for you.’
By Christina Brown
$17- $20 ppbk