Doug Swenson’s ‘Mastering the Secrets of Yoga Flow’

Doug Swenson created Sadhana Yoga, a holistic approach to yoga that connects the vital life force energy of exercise with the spiritual flow of the universe.

A onetime aspiring competitive surfer, Doug Swenson discovered yoga in 1967 and has been teaching it since 1972. All those years of practice have resulted in Swenson’s creating Sadhana Yoga, “a holistic approach to yoga that connects the vital life force energy of exercise with the spiritual flow of the universe.” In this system, scores of recognizable asanas are done “in proper sequence” and linked with “unique flowing transitional movements.” It’s hard to assess Swenson’s transitional movements for uniqueness by reading a book (which, by definition, contains only static images), but Mastering the Secrets of Yoga Flow is an excellent compendium of yoga practices and more; it does indeed present a holistic approach to yoga and living that includes relaxation, leisure, relationships, diet, and light-touch spirituality.

Swenson’s asana chapters are comprehensive, provide clear, accessible instructions, and include scores of photos in which the author capably demonstrates the postures, wrapping his lithe frame around some challenging twists and arm balances but always exuding an air of joy and ease. (Variations are included.) Swenson’s repeated emphasis on energy flow is at times echoed quite strikingly in these photos, as in the transitional movements leading into Revolved Side Angle Pose, which suggest tai chi movements as much as asana. Readers will find his graceful practice wonderfully inviting.

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The latter chapters discuss nutrition and other components of a harmonious life, and here Swenson is no less comprehensive, offering complete schemas not only for asana practice but also for meditative exercises, meal plans, dietary supplements, recreation, and more. He even includes seven-day templates for exercise, rest, and—something missing from too many yoga guides—karma yoga.

Having discovered yoga while still in high school and then pursuing it in a time and place where it was anything but “cool”—1960s Texas—Swenson has come to embody its myriad benefits. His book is a generous and affectionate gift to his fellow practitioners, whether newcomers or lifers, given in the hope that they too will uncover yoga’s treasures.

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