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Zen Yoga

This book is a moving-meditation program that incorporates Zen meditation, yoga asana, tai chi movement, and qi gong breathing.

By Claire Dederer

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Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment Through Breathing, Movement, and Meditation, by Aaron Hoopes. Kodansha; artofzenyoga.com

Zen Yoga reads like a stroll—or brisk walk—through the garden of Asian spiritual traditions. Aaron Hoopes has created a moving-meditation program that incorporates not only Zen meditation and yoga asana, as the book's title implies, but also includes tai chi movement and qi gong breathing. If that seems like a lot to pack into a book numbering less than 200 pages—well, it is.

In tight prose, Hoopes introduces the chakras, the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga, Tao, chi, yin and yang, and Chinese philosophy of the five elements. While it's inspiring to see breathing practices, meditation, and yoga linked, it's hard for a reader who's new to these complex systems to come to a full understanding of them. Most helpful is the chapter on breathing. After all, the breath is at the heart of all these Eastern practices, and it's here that Hoopes's expertise becomes evident. Besides, it's difficult to disagree with the book's most adamant imperative: "Remember to breathe!" We could all use that reminder, every day, no matter what we're practicing.

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