The Little Book of Yoga
“Ms. Isaacs tells us about Eastern teachers trained by yogic masters. When these teachers brought yoga to the West, they either continued the teachings of their lineages or developed their own styles, . . . The Little Book of Yoga offers an informative paragraph of 10 of those styles.”
The Little Book of Yoga sets out to be an introduction for modern yogis to learn more about living comfortably in the body, being kinder, and feeling more alive.
Perhaps an individual wants to breathe easier and move in ways that create physical strength, flexibility, immune strength, and calm. Or maybe someone desires to grow spiritually with confidence, expanding such qualities as gratitude and compassion, developing self-observation and a sense of presence.
Author Nora Isaacs writes a brief history of yoga, noting the progression from six Classical philosopies to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. There are descriptions of types of yoga and the associated practices that readers can use according to personal goals or needs be they physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, or energy related.
Ms. Isaacs tells us about Eastern teachers trained by yogic masters. When these teachers brought yoga to the West, they either continued the teachings of their lineages or developed their own styles, influencing what we practice today. The Little Book of Yoga offers an informative paragraph of 10 of those styles.
The book continues with physical yoga practices. Starting with surya namaskaram, sun salutation, The Little Book of Yoga gives a two-page reference for 30 commonly taught asanas (postures). Each spread notes the English name and Sanskrit pronunciation of the pose, its origin, instructions for practicing it, and the benefits thereof. Reminders how to breathe during the practice abound, and the simple line drawings of the poses are as artful as they are instructional.
The poses covered in the book include standing, seated, and resting postures; balance poses, twists, and some for core strength; forward bends; backbends and inversions. A little instruction for using props is included; however, few variations are suggested in one’s approach to entering/releasing poses.
But The Little Book of Yoga does remind the reader that the options in yoga practice are endless, and that it’s a good idea to study with a teacher. There is an emphasis throughout the book on stiram sukham asanam (practicing with ease and steadiness), to gain the greatest benefit from the practice.
Suggested poses are included for focusing attention on seven primary chakras (energy centers) in the system. Additionally, three techniques are suggested for each of the practices of pranayama (breathwork), dhyana (meditation), mantra (sounding), mudra (energy seals) and bandhas (body locks for regulating energy).
The Little Book of Yoga offers the reader examples of using Patanjali’s teaching in daily living, and a few tips are given for using yogic principles in various life situations.
Throughout the book, the design and layout, use of color and art elements are pleasant. Cross-references occur throughout the text, so the brief index is sufficient. The book concludes with some suggested resources for yoga books, websites, online classes, and sources of yoga clothing and props.
The Little Book of Yoga is recommended for readers who are curious about understanding themselves experientially and who seek a concise little guide on how to choose the practice that suits them best.