by Sharon Gannon and David Life
I started reading books on yoga just around the same time I started practicing it. My primary motivation then was to learn more poses and to learn to do the poses I already knew better. In short, I was just looking at the physical dimension of yoga. As I continued my practice, I began looking for something more. Probably what I saw in my yoga teacher Pio Baquiran but did not see in other instructors I had had was the same thing that made this book very appealing to me: the element of spirituality.
The introduction swept me off my feet right away. The authors said (and I paraphrase) that when yoga reached the West, the Westerners dissected it into its many parts and called each by a name—which is the present days’ different types of yoga. The book, they said, attempted to pull all these parts together and present yoga in its original form as it was in the East.The authors were successful in writing their book in a non-academic, non-technical manner such that even an amateur yogini like me could appreciate the ideas they presented yet without losing their depth.
Four main points struck me in this book:
- The teaching of ahimsa vis-à-vis the advocacy of social involvement—not that these two concepts are exclusive (at least, I don’t think so) but I have not yet read any yogic literature that promotes social activism as much as ahimsa.
- The sequencing of postures—intuitively I knew there is some logic in what we do in class (and occasionally yoga teacher explains why we do certain poses, e.g. to balance the effects the previous pose) but most books simply present the poses as they are, leaving me wondering “am I supposed to follow these asanas from page 1 to 100?” Especially to Vinyasa practitioners like me, the chapter on sequencing makes a lot of sense.
- The whole chapter on guru made me think of the kind of yoga teacher I want to have and the kind I want to be.
- The authors’ journey and transformation inspired me to pursue my own.
Some people find certain ideas in this book a bit “extreme”; I myself do not totally agree to everything the authors said. However, who could argue with their experience? At the end of the day, the responsibility of discovering the truth, following our own path, and uniting with the Self rests on our shoulders.
Side story: I lent my copy to Teacher Pio. He said that the authors are bhakti yogis whose practice (beliefs and lifestyle?) is very similar to his and that their (the authors’ and teacher’s) neck beads indicate the lines of masters they have come from. Hmmm, interesting.