Thursday, June 4, 2015

Double Yoga Review: The Complete Yoga Workbook and Yoga for Your Mind and Body

One of the many pleasures yoga has brought to my life has been a whole new realm of reading material.  I'm on the hunt for some great reference books to keep around the house to help me improve my asanas.  Rather than reviewing the writing and entertainment value of the two latest guides I've read, I think I'll just bullet point some positives and negatives from each.

Complete Yoga Workbook

No matter your age, gender, or fitness level, the Complete Yoga Workbookhas strategies for improving your health and well-being. Based on ancient principles that provide the framework for a modern-day practice, it tackles ailments ranging from arthritis and allergies to anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Sequences of simple postures that will ease discomfort appear in easy-to-follow, step-by-step photos, and there's advice on breathing, meditation, warming up and cooling down, and exercising safely.
Positives:

  • I loved the pictures chosen here.  They're just beautifully done and are posed in a way that makes the poses easy to understand.
  • Whoever designed the book truly did an amazing job.  The layout is pleasant to look at and reflects the content of the book.  
  • I really appreciated that the author included some of the most very basic information you'll need when you start yoga: what to wear, what equipment you'll need, what the basics of the practice include.
  • It's contains English and Sanskrit names for poses and lots of definitions for Sanskrit words that might be new to beginners.  If you need to build your yoga vocabulary, this is a good starting point.
  • Each asana isn't just pictured and described, but also contains notes and precautions to take when practicing that pose.


Negatives:

  • It's definitely for the most basic beginners and won't move you past the basics.  The information included is the bare minimum you'll need.
  • There aren't as many asanas included as I would have liked and the ones that are included are, again, the very basics.  They're important to know, but if you've practiced for any length of time, I'm not sure you'll find a challenge in what is presented.
  • Large portions seem repetitive
  • My main critique of this title is that I think the information contained is pretty easy to find online from sources that don't require a purchase.  Sites like Yoga by Candace contain the same information and highlight the same aspects of asanas, but for free - and contain more advanced poses and practices as well for after you've conquered the basics. 
It's a great choice for a new yogi, and I think a decent choice for a library collection, but I'd point my friends who are interested in starting a practice towards the internet before I'd tell them to purchase the book.


Yoga for Your Mind & Body
From Goodreads:
Release your inner guru and unleash yoga's healing power. Relieve stress. Focus your mind. Build strength. Clear step-by-step instructions and photos guide you through more than 80 specific yoga poses. Study the perfect yoga poses and unlock the key to a healthy, fit, and calmer you!
Positives:

  • Again, this is well-designed and laid out, with care taken in the selection of images
  • This is specifically geared toward a female teenage audience.  I wasn't aware of that from the description, but I was pleased with what it contained once I realized it was intended for a YA audience.  I appreciated seeing images of diverse teenage girls in age appropriate clothing.  The images here aren't heavily touched up - the girls look like regular teens with healthy teen bodies.  
  • It has a great step by step description of each pose with an accompanying picture that has key elements captioned, showing the correct positioning of hands and feet and lines and angles the body should be making.
  • It not only includes both Sanskrit and English asana names, it also include a pronunciation for the Sanskrit, which I found very helpful.
  • Modifications are included for some poses to either increase the difficulty or help those who don't have as much flexibility.
  • The book includes some more difficult poses, such as supported headstand and plow, with appropriate precautions and guidelines for correct posture.

Negatives:

  • Some of the captions and side notes were a bit repetitive and some were misplaced.  I believe this, along with typos, could very well be the result of my having read a galley rather than the finished product.
  • My main change would have been to include more diversity in body type - the girls pictured all had slender, athletic builds.  I'd love to see some other body types represented, particularly in a book aimed at teens.  
  • And while I'm aware that the market many times favors the catering to a particular gender, I don't see why this book couldn't have included young men as well.  There was no information included that wouldn't have applied equally to male yogis.  The only thing specifically female about the book was the continued use of the world "girl" and the exclusion of male yogis.
I somehow missed that this book was geared towards young adult women, so my expectation that it be for all genders and ages was a bit off.  I probably wouldn't have chosen it had I know it was for a YA audience, but I'm glad that I did.  If I had a teenage daughter, I think this book would make for a great introduction to yoga and worth the investment.  While it also contains poses and information that can be found online for free, I think the images of teens who actually look like regular teens sets it apart from anything else I've seen online.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with both copies to review.

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