YOGA BOOK - Jim Colyer

December 2, 2009
THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO YOGA - JOAN BUDILOVSKY & EVE ADAMSON
I wanted another yoga book, and I found this one written by Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson. It is the one Idiot book written for me. The authors stress integration of body, mind and spirit. They use the term "bodymindspirit," and I thought of the "spacetime continuum."

They say that our bodies are microcosms of the universe. I was struck by that idea and wondered if it is consistent with Christianity, that we are saved by being transformed to the image of Christ the Creator?

The goal of yoga in "enlightenment." Yoga originated in ancient India. Hatha yoga is popular in the west.

There are several types. Hatha yoga deals with the poses and controlling the body. Raja yoga is about the intellect. Karma yoga stresses selflessness. Bhakti yoga is reverence for the divine. Jnana seeks knowledge and wisdom. Kundalini awakens energy.

Hatha yoga means getting down on the mat whether you feel like it or not and performing the asanas. Budilovsky and Adamson claim that the Corpse is the most important pose. This is lying flat on your back breathing in and breathing out. Breath control, or pranayama, is a big deal. In yoga philosophy, prana is the life force or universal energy. We tap into it through our breath. This may be b.s. but at the same time, there are advantages in staying with the program. Meditation enters in as we merge with prana.

Yamas are the five abstinences in yoga. Notable is the control of lust and desire. Niyamas are the five observances. Self-discipline is one of the niyamas.

Yogis believe that if prana is blocked, disease will result. The postures and breathing remove energy blockage and restore health. This is more a set of ideas than scientific fact. Still, yoga has been found to be therapeutic and is recommended by doctors.

The authors offer two varieties of poses: floor poses and standing poses. These are the two parts in which I divide my own routine. Yoga poses imitate animals and things in nature.

It is important to link poses together so that they flow into each other. Standing poses begin with the Sun Salutation. Hatha yoga balances opposite forces. My routine should do this. Upward & downward. Forward & backward. Left & right.

I turned the Sun Salutation into a sequence. It flows into the tree. Arms roll, and hands go behind the back. Then comes knee-bends with arms hanging loose, then reaching for the toes. The twist is next. I keep my hands on my shoulders while twisting left and right. Neck rolls follow. Left. Right. Isometrics at the door is when I go up on my toes to stretch my calves. Standing poses end with the towel, a spine massage and some kicks.

Yoga maintains that we have three bodies. These are the physical, astral and causal. This, of course, sounds absurd. The authors suggest that we think of these bodies as energy fields. I recall reading about astral projection years ago, that we can somehow leave our bodies. I was not able to do it and doubt that anyone ever has. There are a lot of liars out there!

I need to practise yoga everyday, keeping this book within reach. I need to savor each pose, finding peace within each. Each pose should be balanced by a counter-pose.

Prana is the pure energy which exists in all things. It controls our cells. It manifests itself through the breath. According to Budilovsky and Adamson, yogis measure life by the number of breaths, not the number of years. One might indeed be an idiot to accept this way of thinking! To me, it is better to breathe evenly and smoothly than to struggle to breathe deeply. Right living is the key: avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and sugary foods.
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