Great Yoga Books For Any Yogi

yoga-anatomyYoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

What a great addition to the yoga canon! Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy (2007) offers a truly unique opportunity to look at yoga poses from the inside out.
Kaminoff is the founder and director of the Breathing Project, a yoga studio focused on breath-centered practice, and is an expert in yoga and breath anatomy. Yoga Anatomy begins with a section on the dynamics of breathing that is easy to understand and helpfully illustrated. An introductory chapter on yoga and the spine is very informative, especially for those who suffer from back pain.

The illustrations of yoga poses are what really makes this book special. Each drawing began as a photograph. Medical illustrator Sharon Ellis then added in the underlying anatomical structure (bones and muscles). The muscles and organs involved in each pose were then highlighted. The result is a wonderful combination of a photo-realistic drawing and an X-ray. This book answers the question, “What muscles are used in this pose,” for more than 60 of yoga’s most commonly taught asanas. The chance to see inside the poses is a great tool for yoga teachers and students at all levels. Detailed written explanations of how the body is working in each pose as well as breathing instructions further illuminate the subject. This book makes a valuable addition to any yogi’s library.
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poser-life-in-twenty-three-yoga-posesPoser by Claire Dederer

Reviewing the memoir of a professional book reviewer is a bit daunting. Fortunately, I unreservedly enjoyed veteran reviewer Claire Dederer’s first book, Poser: My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses.
Using the twenty-three yoga poses as a springboard, Dederer moves easily through her life story, leading with the time when, as a new mother, she discovered yoga. She carries us along as she negotiates the pitfalls of attachment parenting, the difficulty of her marriage to her brilliant, yet depressive, husband, and her evolving feelings about her career after motherhood. Running as an undercurrent throughout are unresolved issues from her unconventional upbringing as the child of separated, but never divorced, parents.

As it has been for so many of us, yoga proves to be the catalyst for Dederer’s transformation, as she is able to let go of maintaining a facade of perfection, both in yoga and in life. Poser is really a pleasure to read. Dederer’s writing is poignant, yet funny in the right places. A lot of her adult experience rang very true to me, and I suspect that other mothers of young children and yoga skeptics-turned-converts will agree. Having a relatable story is a great start, but it takes an exceptional writer to parlay that into a real page-turner. Poser is the best yoga book I’ve read in a long time.

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  1. I am so interested in both books—I think they are truly inspiring.

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