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Iyengar Yoga: The Integrated and Holistic Path to Health
Todd Jones reviews Tommi-Jean and Benjamin Thomas' new book inspired by B.K.S. Iyengar's style.p> When authors and real-life couple Tommi-Jean and Benjamin Thomas first traveled to Pune, India, to study with B.K.S. Iyengar in 1979, they apologized to him for having had so little formal training. Instead of studying directly with yoga teachers, they said, they'd learned almost everything they knew from Iyengar's book Light on Yoga. With characteristic self-assurance, Iyengar replied, "A good book is better than a bad teacher."
Now, 30 years later, the Thomases have produced their own "good book," a volume that's wide ranging and yet often extremely concentrated. From their three decades of experience, the Thomases have distilled the information they've found most essential in practicing and teaching Iyengar Yoga.
Two sections form the book's practical core. First, there are instructions for 70 foundational asanas (plus preparations and variations), including key actions, points of alignment, mistakes to avoid, and benefits. Second, 20 sequences provide a jumping-off point for developing your own intuitive sequencing.
You'll find a list of 76 practical and philosophical points concerning yoga practice and 25 pages on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. There are also sections on pPranayama, meditation, chakras, mantras, Sanskrit pronunciation, and the primary alignment principles of Tadasana (Mountain Pose), which ground all other asanas. Also included are surveys the Thomases created to assess yoga's benefits in beginners and longtime Iyengar Yoga practitioners and instructors.
This book will be especially useful for students who want to develop a personal yoga practice that helps them explore their physical, psychological, and spiritual strengths and weaknesses—and systematically address the latter. As a one-volume compendium of essential knowledge about asana practice and its place in the greater yogic tradition, this book should more than fulfill its authors' hope to keep yogis "busy and intrigued" for many years.
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