Posture Practice

MfiK SINGLETON I

1 133 E3D ALPINE, by

Garth Stevenson. Self-published; garthstevenson.com Garth Stevenson's Alpine is an extraordinary example of nada yoga, the yoga of sound. Stevenson, an accomplished double-bass player and a principal figure in the experimental and improvised music scene, has gained a large yogi following for his live "soundtracks" performed (luring yoga classes in New York City and Boston. On this, his debut solo CD,

Stevenson demonstrates the power of sound to open the heart. "Grandfather," a rich track that hits high and low registers, is full of melancholy and ardent yearning. "My Secret Place," one of two songs to feature vocals, evokes a magical wonderland of trees covered in crystals after an ice storm. Nature is a consistent theme throughout, with song titles such as "Bear Swamp Pond," "Wind Speaks," and "Sunrise" describing the thematic terrain that Stevenson explores. The CD package includes a DVD of solo videos that he filmed himself, taking his 150-year-old bass and recording equipment into remote areas of state parks in New York. And the CD sleeve is handmade by Stevenson using materials such as birch bark collected during outings into the wild. Alpine is particularly suitable for yogis seeking music to accompany meditative reflection or Sava-sana. The album offers a refuge, as it evokes that still, calm space we seek to create, and remain in, through our practice. JEREMY LEHRER

2 l ?«T»1!< YOGA BODY: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, by Mark Singleton. Oxford University Press; oup.com Mark Singleton, a yoga scholar who teaches at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, asks a big question: Where did modern yoga come from? His reply will no doubt disturb a lot of folks. We're often told that yoga is 5,000 years old and that we can trace our heritage back to scriptures like the Yoga Sutra or the Bhagavad Gita. But, as Singleton clearly and convincingly demonstrates, the physical practice of today is less than 100 years old, and it has very little to do with either Patanjali's or Krishna's teaching. Instead, it's the product of such disparate elements as British colonialist policies in India,

19th-century physical health movements in Europe and India, the invention of the camera, and the reformist programs of Indian yoga teachers like Shri Yogendra andT. Krishnamacharya. This book, an invaluable source on modern yoga, should be on the reading list of every serious student and teachertraining program. RICHARD ROSEN

3 l-M'l'.< GD THE YOGA SUTRAS: An Essential Guide to the Heart of Yoqa Philosophy, by Nicolai Bachman. Sounds True; soundstrue.com If you want to seriously pursue svadhyaya, the self-study that moves you toward your true nature, you'll find Nicolai Bachman's home-study course to be a supportive aid. Bachman uses a holistic approach to make Patanjali's Yoga Sutra accessible. This seven-CD set has many tools to help you gain solid knowledge of core yogic principles and their interrelationship. Each of 51 concepts has its own CD track and a colorful card that can be used for daily reflection. A3i9-pagc workbook contains commentary and contemplations for actions in your life. The appendixes arc minibooks in themselves, with 13 diagrams, ranging from an explanation of ©

© the koshas (sheaths) to Patanjali's process for clarification of citta (the mind).

Sanskrit is the master key to understanding each concept, so both the audio and the written lessons explore the sound, roots, and meaning of each Sanskrit term. Because there is no direct English equivalent for most Sanskrit terms, commentary necessarily builds on an author's unique experiences and influences, and Bachman's extensive Sanskrit studies are apparent. (He is also the author of the instructional text and CD The Language of Toga.) His current work has traditional yoga translations of some terms, such as "truthfulness" for satya, as as wrell as original interpretations, such as "permanent oneness" for kaivalya. Bachman also includes the full text of the Yoga Sutra for chanting and study. This beautifully designed package will invite you inward again and again. KATE VOGT

YOU DON'T HAVE TO STAND ON YOUR HEAD, by Dee Gold. Inner Reaches Press; innerreachespress.com Dee Gold, a 54-year-old yoga teacher in Washington, DC, wants everyone to try yoga. With that in mind, she sets out to show that yoga isn't limited to a particular setting or a certain body type, but is accessible to all, includ-i ng people who have or have had cancer, heart problems, or scoliosis. Tou Don't Have to Stand on Tour Head presents short biographies and beautiful photographs of students of all ages and practice levels in diverse environs: 82-year-old John practices with his walker; 66-year-old Marvis shows her poses in a cemetery setting; 64-year-old Judy poses on her sailboat; 44-year-old Manny practices with 17-year-old Kate in his mechanic's garage. Through these stories, the book effectively dispels preconceived notions about who practices yoga and where, to encourage a diverse audience to investigate the practice. It just might inspire you to bust out a Mat-syasana (Fish Pose) in a new surrounding, too. DIANE ANDERSON

1353 SHANTI GENERATION: Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers, with Abby Wills. WSR Creative; shantigeneration.com As far as I'm concerned, the younger kids are when they start doing yoga, the better. Shanti Generation is a great way to get prcteens' and early teens' practices off the ground, and keep them rolling once they've started. The main body of the DVD consists of five moderately vigorous 30-minute practice sessions, each put together from a library of 18 shorter sequences. There's also a "breathing room" section comprising five simple breathing exercises, and a "self-connection room" with two mindful awareness practices. The nice thing about this presentation is that it suggests how the physical practice can be applied to and improve the quality of daily life. Abby Wills will be greatly appealing to her target audience of children from 10 to 15 years old—that's because she's old enough to be authoritative but young enough to be accepted. While I don't believe that Shanti Generation would play with older teenagers, much of it will be suitable for younger children. R. R.

133 MANTRAS FOR PRECARIOUS TIMES, by Deva Premal. White Swan Records; whiteswanrecords.com

German singer Deva Premal is a chanting diva, and her latest recording, which includes her renditions of "Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha," "Om Shanti Om," and "Om Radha Krishnaya Namaha," is one of her loveliest and most accessible. This disc is meant to instruct—Premal repeats each of seven popular mantras 108 times, with the idea that you will learn them for yourself and, once memorized, make them a part of your regular practice. But you won't want to stop listening. The sense of calm these mantras offer is all the more powerful when they are practiced along with Premal. DEREK BERES

I-%?'!!< GUIDED RELAXATION & SAVASANA SCRIPTS FOR YOGA TEACHERS, vol. 1, by Jane Foody. Yoga Jane Training; yogajanetraining.com Being a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants teacher myself, I have mixed feelings about using "scripts"—especially if written by someone else—in a class. But beginning teachers will undoubtedly find Jane Foody's volume a useful resource until they find their own voice. The book is divided into three sections. The first provides instruction in the nuts and bolts of the scripts. Foody, a certified hypnotist and an instructor of "a multi-style yoga teaching program," explains how to mimic a hypnotic voice and then use various hypnotic techniques to induce deep relaxation inyourstudents.The next section describes five "inductions"—such as progressive relaxation, breath holding, and eye focus—that can be used as relaxations in their own right or as preparations for Savasana. The third section consists of 22 guided-rclaxation scripts with themes ranging from the highly imaginative (light, chak-ras,prand) to the down-to-earth and practical (improved posture and weight loss). However, is an induced hypnotic trance the same as true Savasana? R. R.

1333 DAILY ENERGY, with Shiva Rea. Acacia; acacialifestyle.com Here's the latest from popular vinyasa teacher Shiva Rea. This DVD combines elements of asana, dance, martial arts, and—with so-called yogic pushups and sit-ups—good old high school PE. The basic program consists of five preset practices, ranging in time from 35 to 50 minutes, each consisting of two or three shorter sequences. Through a handy device called a yoga matrix, these shorter sequences can be mixed and matched to create a large number of individualized practices. Rea gives us another of her usual Platinum

performances. Her instructions, though lacking in physical detail —one of the limitations of the constantly moving vin-yasa approach —arc both engaging and inspiring. My only concern about this video is that Rea's demonstrations are so accomplished, and accomplished with such apparent ease, that without a backup person demonstrating a more average pose, overly enthusiastic but less adept students might unintentionally push themselves too far. Rut if you are looking for an active workout with a first-rate teacher, Daily Energy might just be the right DVD for you. R. R.

I-M«1H A LIFE WORTH BREATHING: A Yoqa Master's Handbook of Strength, Grace, and Healing, by Max Strom. Skyhorse Publishing; skvhorsepublishlng.com In a culture of caffeine and computers, where more than 40 million people take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and more than 80 million use sleep aids, yoga offers powerful tools for "avoiding a near-life experience," writes Max Strom in this heartfelt and compelling guide to leading a meaningful and joyful life. The co-founder of Sacred Movement Center for Yoga in Los Angeles, Strom travels extensively, teaching and lecturing on yoga and spirituality, and is in some ways an unlikely yoga master. Born with severe club feet that caused him to spend much of his first six years with his legs confined in plaster casts and braces, Strom struggled with physical challenges that he says helped him cultivate patience, perseverance, and a passionate drive to understand the human experience. This book reflects his wide-ranging spiritual studies by presentingan eclectic collection of insights, techniques, and practical exercises designed to help you navigate the often difficult but essential journey within. Quoting from Mother Teresa, LaoTsc, and Henry David Thoreau, Strom offers a sometimes rambling but always fascinating exploration ofyoga's potential for transformation, carol KRUC0FF

G3 THE BREATH SESSIONS: An Invitation to Breathe, by Sandra Sabatinl. Pinter & Martin Publishers; pinterandmartin.com

Sandra Sabatini studied for many years with the late Vanda Scaravelli, who died in 1999 at the age of 91. This pair of "breath sessions" is a beautifully realized investigation of the relationship that the body and spine have with the breath and gravity. You can practice all of session 1 and most of session 2 while reclining. This wisely relieves you of having to maintain a proper seated position, which for many of us is a difficult row to hoe. Moreover, the broad contact of the back body with the floor provides you with a reassuring sense of support, which in turn helps free the breath. The bulk of session 1 consists of a detailed body scan, imagining the subtle "spaces" of the inner body being effortlessly washed by the "wave" of the breath. The theme of effortlessness continues in session 2, where Sabatini encourages you to use the breath to both "root" the body into the earth and release any tension uncovered during the body scan. While the focus here is more on poetic than on technical instruction, The Breath is an inspired exploration into the art of natural breathi ng. One caveat: Sabatini has a heavy Italian accent that takes a bitofgettingusedto. R. R.

BSD PRENATAL & POSTNATAL YOGA, with Elena Brower. Anchor Bay; anchorbay.com/fitness

I often wonder what it's like for an unborn child whose mother is practicing yoga.

I can only imagine it must be a pleasant experience, especially if, as on this DVD, the mother is performing the asanas with awareness and alignment. Elena Brower's instructional DVD presents two sessions: a no-nonsense 30-minutc prenatal session that includes sequences of standing poses and hip and shoulder openers, and a

35-minute postnatal session ofvinyasa-Iinked standing poses, forward bends, backbends, and a twist. Brower is an excellent teacher: She's direct, precise, encouraging, and always bringing the student back meaningfully to the present. R. R.

I=M»1M THE POLAIR ILLUSTRATED YOGA DICTIONARY, by Janita Stenhouse. Polair Publishing; polairpubiishing.co.uk How often in your yoga reading do you come across a Sanskrit word that looks familiar but you can't place, or that you don't know at all? When that happens to me, I head for a dictionary. This little dictionary, compiled by longtime yoga student and author Janita Stenhouse, is an ideal resource for students who want to quickly find a no-frills definition. With nearly 1,500 terms explained, Stenhouse has covered all the bases. She's included definitions for a host of practices, from asanas to mudras to pranayama (many of them illustrated); keywords in the yoga lexicon; Hindu deities; various yoga schools; and prominent modern and ancient yoga figures. Ifyou're looking for a dictionary with simple one-or two-sentence explanations, you'll find this book useful. R. R.

BS9 WARRIOR YOGA, with Trudle Styler and James D'Silva. Gaiam; gaiam.com In this vigorous workout for all levels of students, Trudie Styler models for trainer James D'Silva, who leads two flow sessions heavy on standing poses. Besides the sessions, which run 45 and 25 minutes (the latter is a truncated version of the former), the DVD features a pair of five-minute meditations and interviews with the principals involved. D'Silva's instructions might at times be run-of-the-mill, but his display of the asana exercises is quite impressive. The DVD also incorporates music from Songs from the Labyrinth, an album by Styler's husband, Sting. R. R. *

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