Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi


By Phil Catalfo  |  

Holt

Longtime Yoga Journal contributor Farhi has created a lucid and engaging guide to developing a yoga practice that will enliven the body and nourish the soul. This ambitious work aims to be not just a holistic guide, but a total one, and Farhi pulls it off without having produced a phone book-sized tome.

She begins with some 80 pages of discourse about the nature and purpose of yoga, the yamas and niyamas, such practicalities as creating a practice space and using equipment, and the conceptual foundation of the book, the “seven moving principles” that, she says, underlie all human motion: breathing, yielding, radiating, centering, supporting, aligning, and engaging. Over the next 200 pages, she offers instruction on and discussion of scores of asanas (ably demonstrated by Farhi, her partner Mark Bouckoms, and two other yogis). Anyone who’s been at it even a little while—or who has a healthy appetite for learning—will find loads of information and abundant food for thought. And everyone who cares about yoga should consider the philosophical arguments she makes here. Yoga, she asserts, is properly understood as “a life path rather than a form of sophisticated calisthenics.” Rediscovering the spiritual essentials that are lost “when we strip yoga to its mechanics” leads to a change of mind that “is desperately needed to bring about healing in the world today.”

Farhi makes these arguments without seeming doctrinaire or heavy-handed, and always keeps her focus on the goal of “realizing our intrinsic wholeness.” She notes that “the goal of asana practice is to live in your body and to learn to perceive clearly through it,” and there is enough clear perception in this splendid book to help yogis of all experience levels go a long way toward attaining that often-elusive goal.