Monday, May 15, 2017

Yoga Book Reviews: Yoga Bodies by Lauren Lipton and Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoga Bodies: Real People, Real Stories, and the Power of Transformation
Artfully capturing yoga's vibrant spirit, Yoga Bodies presents full-color yoga-pose portraits of more than 80 practitioners of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and skill levels--real people with real stories to share about how yoga has changed their lives for the better. Some humorous, some heartfelt, others profound, the stories entertain as they enlighten, while the portraits--which joyously challenge the "yoga body" stereotype--celebrate the glorious diversity of the human form. Handsomely jacketed and richly visual inside and out, Yoga Bodies is a coffee table-worthy contemplation, a meaningful gift, and a source of endless inspiration for anyone seeking fresh perspectives on how to live well.
Less instruction and more inspiration, this is a coffee table-type book full of pictures of people of all shapes, races, sizes, and ages in poses of varying degrees of difficulty and ease, accompanied with their own words about why they practice yoga or what their practice means to them.  I spent several days flipping through and looking at the images and reading the stories, but it could also be used as inspiration for your own practice.  No instruction is included, and the book is intended for those with a basic knowledge of yoga, although an extensive knowledge certainly isn't required.  I loved seeing how yoga means different things to different people and hearing the reasons various people practice - from the ultra spiritual to the very practical.

 Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body.
It’s a book of inspiration for beginners of all shapes and sizes: If Jessamyn could transcend these emotional and physical barriers, so can we.

It’s a book for readers already doing yoga, looking to refresh their practice or find new ways to stay motivated.

It’s a how-to book: Here are easy-to-follow directions to 50 basic yoga poses and 10 sequences to practice at home, all photographed in full color.

It’s a book that challenges the larger issues of body acceptance and the meaning of beauty.

Most of all, it’s a book that changes the paradigm, showing us that yoga isn’t about how one looks, but how one feels, with yoga sequences like “I Want to Energize My Spirit,” “I Need to Release Fear,” “I Want to Love Myself.”
When I first started practicing yoga and discovered the world of yoga on instagram, Jessamyn was one of the first yogis I followed (you can follow her by clicking here).  I fell in love with her energy and body positivity, and she's still one of the most inspiring yogis I follow.  I love her strength and her pride in how amazing her body is, and it's great to see what the poses look like when they're done by a person with a body that looks more like mine than like the "traditional" yoga body.

This book is full of gorgeous color pictures and contains Jessamyn's person story and thoughts on yoga as a spiritual and physical practice, but the main draw for me was the instruction.  Jessamyn provides visual and written instruction for the basic poses and an entire section of sequences focusing on different parts of the body and attitudes to embrace.  Her practices are thoughtful and easy to understand and I found her explanations helpful.

These are both great choices for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance in beginning or continuing a yoga practice.  I found a lot to love here from both books, both visually and in terms of learning more about the practice of yoga and asana techniques.

I read Yoga Bodies through my local public library and Every Body Yoga courtesy of NetGalley.

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