Yoga Basics - Overview of what it is all About

Yoga: The Practice of Moving into Stillness

Erich Schiffman

This book is the one I always recommend to people who asking themselves, "so, what is this yoga thing all about." Written by Erich Schiffman , someone who really gets the essence of yoga and can convey that essence in a heartfelt, succinct and joyful manner.

Light on Yoga

BKS Iyengar

This is referred to commonly as "the Hatha Yoga Bible" … and it really is. Although it was written decades ago, Iyengar is a master in the truest sense of the word. There is a small section on the philosophy of Yoga and page after page of photos and texts of yoga asana. A must for all hatha yoga practitioners.
For Deeper Knowledge
Dancing the Body of Light

Dona Holleman and Orit Sen Gupta

When you are ready to get serious about how to do the poses and move deeply into yoga, get your hands on this book. The sub title of the book is, "the Future of Yoga" and I think it truly represents an huge evolutionary jump in the teachings of yoga. The essence of the book is in the Seven Vital Principles – Relaxed body, Quiet Mind, Intention, Rooting, Connecting, Breating and Elongation. When these principles are mastered, which takes years to embody, even for people who have been practicing yoga for years, every pose feels light, connected and effortless. To read more about the Seven Vital Princples, read Liza Peckham’s article.

Dancing the Body of Light, is a huge technical manual describing in detail the a huge number of yoga asana. The philosophical part of the book, although not the bulk of
the book’s contents is written concisely and beautifully.

The Anatomy of Movement

Blandine Calais-Germain

This is not a dry Anatomy book. Calais-Germain an accomplished dancer, has charted each muscle in the body, ligament and skeletal structure in the human body and charted these movements in this wonderful study on anatomy and movement.

For those who are curious about musculoskeletal system and its impact on human movements, this is the book for you. It is a thorough, surprisingly lively and intriguing piece.

Inspiration

The Gift

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Hafiz is the man – as he says in one poem "If you think I am the happiest man alive, you are right." This poetry comes from a place of pure ecstasy and that ecstasy is infectious. Don’t read these poems unless you are ready to have a spell of bliss cast upon you, Written by 14th century Sufi master, as most people know about Hafiz, his books sell more in Iran than the Qur’an does. I read these poems almost daily when I wake up or right before bed for a full attitude adjustment.

The Sacred Balance

David Suzuki

This book is not a doom and gloom book on how the earth is fated for destruction. It is a celebration of the deep connection that we have with the earth and all its elements. I love the way the book is laid out. Each chapter of the first chapters is based on one of the four elements. For example, the chapter on the element air, talks about how our planet evolved from a ball of gases, solidified and formed an atmosphere. It is such a powerful thing to have this connection with the forces that shape our world when doing your yoga practice. To recognize where the air that you breathe come from (see Every Breath you Take), or realize the intricate link between the sweat that is released form your body and the water supply is divine. This book is a must to help curb the ‘human-centred’ attitude that we have developed and re-establishes our connection, in a both a scientific and mystical way to the Great Mother.

The Power of Myth


Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, simply, is the man. This is the book that first got me in to Yoga. As a young student in University when I read this book and his description of Yoga, I knew I had to investigate.

What I loved most is that his underlying thrust is that all religions are rooted in the same mystical experience. The symbols and the metaphors may differ from one tradition to another, but the message is the same.

Instead of merely giving the Indian account of what Yoga is about, he relates it to all the major religions and symbol systems. Furthermore, I especially relish that he relates it to the great works of art, drama and poetry from both East and West, past and contemporary. After all, as Campbell so eloquently points out, it is the artists and the poets that open us up to the largeness of the mystery of being alive and to our inner radiance.

I know I am not alone when I say that Joseph Campbell is one of the greatest influences of my life. This book, a series of conversations with Bill Moyers for a PBS special (which is listed under the dvds below) is an excellent overview to the mind and heart of a man who could understand and passionately transfer the wisdom of great minds who have come before us.
The Enlightened Mind

Stephen Mitchell

This book is a collection of poetry, prose and quotations from of great thinkers who have come before us. It is a collection of writings from various religious, philosophical and scientific fields that celebrates the similarity between all traditions. It starts with the Unpanishads and works it way right through greats like the Bible, The Tao Te Ching various lesser-known mystical works and then onto modern poets like my man, Rillke and deeply mystical scientists like Albert Einstein. It is a great book that I keep in my back pack and pull out while waiting for a parking spot or when a friend is running late and keeps you waiting at some café or just to pull out for some inspiring words during a beach walk.
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

Tom Robbins

What a book! One of the best I have ever read, not just by Tom Robbins, but by any author. It is ridiculously funny and clever.
One of the underlying thrusts of the book is that spiritual people need to keep their humor channels open and not become too serious. As Switters, the main character aptly points out in a heated discussion in Syria, as it says in the Qur’an,, "the gates of paradise open wide for he who can make his companions laugh." Switters, an ex-CIA agent, learns meditation not from a Tibetan Lama or a Indian Guru but from a Airforce pilot named Bobby Case. His description in street-language of meditation is one of the best I have ever read. I refer to it all the time.

This book in the words of Switters, "blows the gunk of your intellectual carburetor" with it’s subtle critique of the increasing power of economic and political globalization along with it’s moral and spiritual insight. Be ready to laugh out loud for this one. It’s a must.
DVD/VIDEOS that everyone on the planet should see these movies once a year.

Baraka


Everyone on earth should see this movie. Period. If there is one underlying message to this film, it is that we do not live in isolation. What we do on one part of the planet, deeply affects life in another place. It reaffirms our connection to people we will never meet.
There are no words, just a spell binding musical soundtrack. The images start of with various religious traditions from around the world – Orthodox Jews, Tibetan Lamas, Whirling Dervishes, Christian Monks, Muslims, Balinesian Shamans. You can taste the intensity of their devotion.

The hustle and bustle of busy urban life in Tokyo is contrasted by a Shinto Monk doing a walking mediation down the streets of this busy city. I try and connect to where my food is coming from every time I eat it. – after seeing the workings of a chicken factory, you may question how we the production of food can become so economic.

This movie makes you ask the big questions.
I watch it several times a year and it still floors me with every viewing.
The Power Of Myth

Joseph Campbell/ Bill Moyers
This was the originally filmed for as a PBS special and released shortly after the death of Joseph Campbell in 1987. The book, the Power of Myth (above) is a copy of the inspried dialogue between these two remarkable men.

Without repeating my critique of the book, I will take a different track and say that it is incredible to see the eloquence of Joseph Campbell. He can recite stories from other cultures, name dates and quote great works without hesitation. In all the lectures I have heard him give, which are hours and hours worth, I have never seen him utter the sound, "um". Take some time and enjoy this series.


One Giant Leap:

Another one to be seen by all citizens of Planet Earth. Similar to Baraka, but on a much smaller budget and with a more musical twist, two artists go around the world with a dat recorder, a microphone and a video camera. What they accomplish is astounding.

The DVD has several chapters arranged by topics like Inspiration, Faith, Sex, Death, God, Music, etc. Some famous people (Dennis Hopper, Tom Robbins, Gabrielle Roth) are interviewed and some random people, like a hardware store owner in Bombay or a British musician on a variety of topics.

What makes the topics come to life is the music. The music is a brilliant synthesis of styles from around the planet. As an example of example of how the dvd is laid out, in one section drummers in Africa will lay down a track. Then Tabla and Sitar players in India will add on. Then a Jamaican Dub Singer will sing over top, creating a cohesive tapestry of music that will turn you heart into a raging volcano of joy! I firmly believe that if we are ever going to create more tolerance in the world, the way to do it is through music. As Gabrielle Roth says in the video, "music and dancing get us out of heads and into the deepest places in our body where the spirits live". Don’t just watch this one, dance to it, let it move you.

 

ENJOY

I hope these works contribute
to your experinece of being rocked deep in your core by the feelings of Love and Joy and somehow turn the life
experinece into a
constant celebration.

Bliss Out,

Eoin

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