Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind by Frank Jude Boccio


Wisdom Publications; www.wisdompubs.org.

Not surprisingly, many contemporary yoga practitioners are also students of Buddhist meditation techniques, and many Buddhists practice yoga. (The two traditions do have common roots, and the Buddha was, after all, an adept yogi.) But no one had offered a successful book-length discourse fully integrating the two practices until Frank Jude Boccio came along. An interfaith minister, certified yoga teacher and therapist, and dharma teacher, Boccio manages in Mindfulness Yoga not only to tie the two together but also to show how they should not be construed as disparate in the first place.

Boccio first took up yoga nearly 30 years ago and began studying Buddhism soon thereafter; after some two decades as "a mere dabbler," he "took refuge" in the Buddha's teachings with Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. But although he met Buddhists who did yoga and yogis who practiced Buddhist meditation, it struck him that some connection was missing. "Rather than seeing how they could be integrated into one comprehensive practice," he writes, "most people seem to see yoga and Buddha-dharma as separate, perhaps with yoga as merely preparatory to the 'real work' of meditation, or meditation as somehow just about the mind and not relevant to how we work with the body in yoga." He counters this misperception by showing that Buddhist practice is itself a form of yoga, presenting a meditational approach to asana practice, and arguing that engaging with the problem of suffering is an essentially yogic endeavor.

He devotes the bulk of the book to outlining his Mindfulness Yoga practice: four sequences (each containing several dozen familiar poses) that he characterizes as "Body as Body," "Feelings as Feelings," "Mindfully Aware," and "Dharmas in the Dharmas"—echoing the stanzas of the Anapanasati Sutta, in which the practitioner, while breathing mindfully, directs the attention in turn to the body, the feelings, the mind, and the dharmas.