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Why Yoga Works and How it Can Work for You offers powerful insights on Yoga’s rich history and underlying philosophy, as well as effective guidelines for practicing this timeless healing art.
Part One explores Yoga’s holistic models which are based on the connection between the body, breath, mind and spirit. It discusses Yoga's roots in these ancient wisdom teachings and explains the time-tested strategies for reducing suffering, creating optimal health and cultivating satisfying relationships.
Part Two delves into the science of sequencing, conscious breathing as well as the purposes, techniques and benefits of meditation. It also offers practices with step-by-step instructions utilizing a wide range of Yoga’s transformational tools.
This book is appropriate for beginners, seasoned practitioners, Yoga teachers and students in teacher training programs.
"Ageless Yoga wisdom uniquely distilled for a Western audience. Answers any questions you may have on the how's and whys of yoga."
“Why Yoga Works” is on the recommended book list for Yoga Therapy Rx™ and Prime of Life Yoga© courses at Loyola Marymount University. The authors have produced a comprehensive and user friendly vehicle for the lineage of Professor T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar. Highly recommended for students and teachers.
Larry Payne Ph.D.
Founding director Yoga Therapy Rx™ and Prime of Life Yoga©
Co-author Yoga Therapy and Integrative Medicine
"Such a phenomenal read! This should be required reading for all yoga training programs, as it covers the philosophical foundations in a very practical and user-friendly way for the 21st Century student! We'll be integrating this into all levels of our training at Be The Change Yoga!!"
"The experience of yoga practice, like any spiritual journey, involves a degree of mystery. But as this enlightening and delightful book makes clear, it doesn't have to be that mysterious. In conversational prose, with thoughtful discussions of human nature, and inspiring explications of yoga teaching (including charming and clear illustrations) this user-friendly book demystifies the physical, psychological and spiritual rewards of the ancient form of enlightenment. There is much here for teachers, practitioners, and even casual students like me - my downward facing dog will never be the same."
Suzanne Braun Levine
Author of Inventing the Rest of Our Lives:
Women in Second Adulthood.
"As a student of Robert Birnberg and a Yoga teacher of teachers, I recognize the wisdom and tradition of the yoga lineage of Krishnamacharya/Desikachar summarized in this clearly written and affordable text. I have taught Yoga teachers in this tradition for the past five years. This reference for Yoga students and teachers of this lineage is a gift. The simplicity, elegance and brilliance of our lineage is made available for all in this book. The authors’ experience and integrity to uphold Yoga, based on the Sutras of Patanjali, is a gift to the confused yoga world of today. Also, the clearly written summary after each chapter is an invaluable resource. I am so grateful for the experiences this book embodies of dedicated yoga teachers, who love their lineage.. This is a tool to enhance understanding and provoke inquiry in the sacred relationship between teacher and student—an honored principle in this lineage. Thank you."
Co-owner, Tone Santa Rosa, CA.
"Why Yoga Works is an incredible resource for teachers and students alike. The book offers deep wisdom and profound teachings but remains simple and down to earth so that it is accessible to anyone. I intend to use this book in my teacher trainings as I find it an easy to follow and authoritative guide for students to refer back to yet it leaves plenty of room for expansion upon the topics covered offering interesting and transformative conversations between teacher and student. I am so grateful to have this book in my yoga library and teacher training. I highly recommend it to any serious seeker on the yogic path."
Yoga Teacher for over 20 years
Owner & Founder Yoga Blend, Burbank, CA
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), South Indian master of yoga, esteemed scholar, and Ayurvedic physician, is widely regarded as the "father of modern yoga." A brilliant teacher, he taught what he learned through his life of study to his son, T. K. V. Desikachar. A highly skilled yoga therapist and teacher himself, Desikachar refined and disseminated his father's teachings to Westerners, yet few students of yoga today are aware of the breadth and beauty of the Krishnamacharya tradition.
The aim of Why Yoga Works & How It Can Work For You is to deepen understanding of yoga's principles and how to apply them to one's personal practice through the lens of the Krishnamacharya - Desikachar teaching tradition. The authors have taken on an ambitious task. The result is a clearly written, concise, and practically oriented introduction to the fundamentals of this approach.
Early on, the authors highlight the transformative impact that seminar study with Desikachar and individual mentoring with his long-term students has had on their work as yoga teachers and yoga therapists. Their enthusiasm for the Krishnamacharya tradition is contagious, and they reach out to a broad audience of students with varying levels of yoga experience.
Reading this book, I was reminded of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: "Out of complexity, find simplicity!" Part 1, Why Yoga Works, contains brief sections on the hallmarks of Krishnamacharya's approach and the philosophical perspectives fundamental to his teaching tradition. The authors use short case examples to illustrate the potential for yoga teachings to change lifestyle and perspective. They have done an effective job summarizing and providing understandable examples of basic concepts, although the section would have been strengthened by references to source texts and resources to guide students' deeper exploration of yoga philosophy.
Part 2 includes chapters about the classification of asana, breath and movement, pranayama technique, mantra, sound, and meditation. Although the reader may hear strong echoes of Desikachar's words in Part 2, the only direct acknowledgment of his work is a quotation preceding this section.
The content of Part 2 will be familiar to students who have studied this teaching tradition. Careful attention is paid to how the specific aim of a practice guides the selection and sequencing of yoga techniques. Practice sequences are depicted and explained concisely by a "why we did what we did" section in table format. The sequencing sections will be particularly useful to yoga teachers and educators of yoga teachers.
The chapters on meditation and sound make a strong contribution to our understanding of how to select meditation strategies and prepare body, mind, and breath for meditation practices. Having introduced students to the Krishnamacharya teaching tradition, the authors conclude with comments about the importance of cultivating a one-to-one relationship with a teacher. Yoga students are left to consider the practicalities of finding a suitable teacher to guide their personal development.
This book contains useful information for yoga students working with a teacher trained in a Krishnamacharya/Desikachar approach and for educators of teachers in this tradition. The absence of references to the work of Krishnamacharya, Desikachar, and their senior students (as primary sources or suggestions for future study), however, limits its usefulness for practicing yoga therapists and educators of yoga therapists. For the former, the book will introduce the approach and may provide inspiration to explore the tradition's systematic and nuanced approach to yoga therapy.
Clare Collins, PhD, RN, C-IAYT, is a practicing yoga therapist, long-term student in the Krishnamacharya tradition, and Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University. She has served as a member of IAIT's board of directors and its standards and certification committees.