Whether or not you do yoga religiously, The Yoga Bible is a useful book to have. No, The Yoga Bible has nothing to do with religion. It’s a handy reference guide to the many yoga poses and how to perform them. The “Yoga Bible” is a bit different than Hatha Yoga Illustrated which I also recently reviewed. The Yoga Bible is more condensed and compact. Yet it’s still quite comprehensive at 400 pages and more than 170 yoga positions demonstrated. The goal of author Christina Brown is for her book to be “the definitive guide to yoga postures”.
The Yoga Bible
The intro to the book gives its own perspective on the question “What is yoga?” and discusses yoga’s many rewards. It also gives briefly describes the eight limbs of yoga. This can help you decide if you’d like to explore any of them further. One of the limbs is “Asanas”, or the physical postures of Hatha yoga. This is what we most commonly refer to as “yoga” today, in classes, videos, etc. The Yoga Bible gives suggestions on how to practice, how often to practice, and how to make your practice easier. It also offers ideas on how to bring more challenge to your practice.
Got to get you into my life, yoga
One quote from the the book reads “the best yoga practice is when it is integrated in to your life”. I interpret this as meaning yoga isn’t just something you do at an occasional class, but rather something you can apply to your life as needed, at anytime and just about anyplace. Yoga can be beneficial no matter where you are or what you are doing. This means you can take a few minutes here and there to be aware of your breath. Or maybe you can do tension relieving stretches at work, as I talked about in my post on “Office Yoga Poses”.
Let’s get physical
Part two of The Yoga Bible involves the physical practice of yoga, its many poses and how to correctly perform them. It begins with warm-up poses, each focusing on a specific part of the body. The book then goes into a series of standing postures which demand involvement of the whole body. Those are followed by your seated and floor postures which help loosen the body, release tension, and help re-find your body’s balance.
Let’s do the twist
Next, The Yoga Bible focuses on twists and abdominal toners which helps internal organs as well as your back. Twists can also help relieve tension and allow your mind to unwind. And abdominal toners, well, who doesn’t want firm abs? Your whole body benefits from a strong core. Further into the book you’ll find arm balances which will help you develop strength inside and out.
Next you’ll find a variety of backbends which will help bring flexibility to the chest and strengthen back muscles. I am a strong advocate of keeping a strong back! These are followed by a series of inverted positions such as the Raised Leg Downward Facing Dog pose which is intended to increase flexibility and increase cardiac response.
The Yoga Bible also features sections on relaxation, various breathing exercises, as well as calming practices. And finally there is a section on “finding your yoga” which describes various styles of physical yoga practice. And the book ends with a short but helpful glossary of yoga terms.
Step by step
I really like the way The Yoga Bible is put together. The step by step instructions on how to perform each pose are straightforward. The pages for each posture are very well laid out and easy to understand. It reminds me a bit of the way Richard Hittleman presented his posture demonstrations.
There are also two info boxes that go along with each posture. The one in purple shows a small image of the posture along with its name in both Sanskrit and its English translation. This is hugely helpful when learning the many poses. It also briefly describes the posture and summarizes its benefits. The blue box gives quick pointers on the pose such as where to focus gaze as well as the effect the pose offers.
The book is relatively small. It’s 6 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches. which makes it easily portable. Because of that some of the text might seem small. But larger text would have required a larger book size. Personally, I would like to have both a large and a small version of The Yoga Bible, but I only know of the small one. The great thing is that even for the book’s size, the postures are very well photographed and the images are large and clear. The sheer number of poses in and of itself is worth having The Yoga Bible around as a quick reference. It also makes the book worthy of its title!
Strike a pose
Some of the poses are more challenging than others: But what’s great about The Yoga Bible is that you can pick and choose the poses that are right for you since there are so many demonstrated in the book. I don’t care for poses that could potentially put pressure on my neck such as the fish, so I avoid those poses. To be a good yogi doesn’t mean you have to perform every posture out there. Choose the ones that suit your preferences. If you’re new to yoga, a book like The Yoga Bible can help you learn the names of the various postures and how they are performed. But consulting with a qualified instructor in person can help to make sure you are performing them correctly and can also help prevent potential injury. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia has its own list of over 100 Hatha Yoga asanas. It doesn’t demonstrate how to perform them, but there are images of the poses in their final positions.
As always you should exercise caution when exercising your body! Don’t perform any postures that are beyond your abilities or if you’re not sure how to perform correctly. And as always, be sure to check with your physician before taking on any new physical fitness program.