Monday, July 29, 2013

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

This is another book on my favorite topic. Although the beginning was promising- I am all for science!- it turned out into a disappointment...This book's subtitle says 'The Risks and Rewards'. Unfortunately, more than half of the books looks at injuries and risks in an alarming way, although there is little (or no) statistical evidence for it. Then, in the epilogue, the author apologetically states that there are actually more rewards than risks (?). As a passionate reader (and practitioner) of yoga, I found this book amateuresque, with no direct references throughout the book (they are all squeezed at the end of the book, and most of them cite the sources as 'anonymous'). The pompous title has nothing to do with the content. This book is poorly referenced, generalizes based on assumptions and is logically flawed. But, at least it's a start in trying to see yoga from a (intended) science perspective. And yes, there is definitely more research to be done in the future, so I am hopeful that one day soon we will have concrete, solid research data to support what we all feel after our yoga practice...

Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover

The author of this book insists that in 28 days, by doing yoga, you will get the ultimate body and/or mind (?). As a yoga teacher and practitioner for years (and probably not in the target market of this book) I am sorry to say that this will realistically not happen. Actually, research shows that yoga actually slows metabolism, which in layman terms means 'you eat the same, you gain weight'. I would suggest the author to really look at all the studies done on yoga in the last few years. The majority conclude that while you do not lose weight, you do feel much better than before, so yes, the mind connection is the one mostly influenced by a steady yoga practice (and not only 28 days). And yes, in time- that is after months or years of practicing- you do become much more connected to your body, and more aware of your nutritional needs- hence why most real yogis have slim, slender frames. 

This book is not only useless for someone who never did yoga, but also dangerous and depressing. Some of the poses she recommends are actually intermediate/advanced poses that should be done under supervision, unless you want to snap a tendon or get sciatica. Again, plenty of research shows the amount of injuries from yoga- people going into it too fast and totally unprepared. I personally think this book is for someone like Jeniffer Aniston maybe (actually, one of her clients), who has probably plenty of time preparing the meals recommended and explore a new pose each day. But for the regular, sedentary American who sits on a chair all day, expecting him/her to go into a full lotus and spend hours on preparing a dish, this is highly unrealistic. Unless I totally missed the message of this book, I would say leave this book on a shelf. Or if you want to start doing yoga, pick a studio and get into it slowly, with someone who can guide you and give you alternatives to suit your body. This is the real yoga philosophy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

LitYYC: Wordfest in Calgary Oct/2012

 Wordfest is back to Calgary this week. I enjoyed the festival last year and this year I will again support this literary happening in our city. Wordfest runs this week (Oct 9 - 14), and there are some great writers attending: Alexander McCall Smith, Linden McIntyre, Anne Perry to name a few. Have a look at the calendar of events and enjoy a great evening out, now that the cold and rain is taking over the city. I will attend the Friday Night Showcase at the Vertigo Theatre and can't wait! If you happen to go to any other events, let me know what you liked the most (or liked less); I will post my thoughts on the Friday event sometimes over the weekend. Happy readings!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Yoga of Eating

Transcending Diets and Dogmas to Nourish the Natural Self
Author: Charles Eisenstein
Subject: yoga, diets
My rating: 5*

About the book:
I can't recall how I came across this book. Fact is I am happy I've read it, it is a refreshing, new perspective on how and why we eat the way we do nowadays. I share the author's view on the intelligence of our own body, and the importance of listening to the messages it sends us. The author is giving some strong arguments on the use of processed foods, the meat industry, dieting, supplements, why we eat the way we eat. The book is easy to read, in short chapters on these topics, and is not a book on a specific diet. Thought provoking and interesting- a MUST read for anybody who ever believed in one diet or who went on a detox (which is almost all of us).

From the book:
(talking about the lack of control in life of anorexic people)..."It is like the Sufi tale of Mullah Nasrudin, searching for his key under the streetlight instead of in the shadows where he lost it. Rarely do we find the courage to venture into the shadows, even if it leaves us searching forever in places where the answers cannot be found".

"Authentic change requires not willpower and forcing, but surrender, acceptance, trust, and courage"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words

Travels with Mom in the Land of Dementia
Author: Kate Whouley
Subject: Biography, medicine
My rating: 4.5*

About the book:
Another free read from LT. And not only free- a great book! It is a beautiful, compassionate, and genuine account of living and caring for a person with dementia. Kate Whouley writes effortlessly, and her story is unveiled at a perfect pace; she kept me captivated from her first chapter. If you know someone with dementia, or you are a caregiver, look no further. This is a book that will make you believe you are not alone, and that looking at your own fears with faith will change your perspective. The only reason I didn't give this book a maximum rating is because of the spotty editing- some spelling and grammar errors that kept repeating. However, this did not stop me from enjoying the book. I will definitely look for more of this author's works!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Voice of Knowledge

A Toltec Wisdom Book
A practical guide to inner peace
Author: Don Miguel Ruiz
Subject: self help
My rating: 4.5*

About the book:
The author's bestseller is 'The four agreements', a powerful code of conduct that can transform lives: be impecable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, always do your best. This book is bringing those 4 agreements into practice, and explores more on the Toltec philosophy. Don't believe yourself and don't believe anyone else sounds harsh, but it means more about not believing in the words of the 'Prince of Lies' inside your head. I liked the portrayal of humans as artists, creating their own life as a work of art; I liked the idea of each human creating their own story, with themselves as the main character. I liked plenty of this book, it's only half a star away from 5* because it tends to be repetitive sometimes. I would love to own this book and re-read it at different times- it is a powerful book that will make you think. It is also a book for those who fear death- it's an encouraging, simple and lovely written prose. Highly recommended!

From the book: (I can't quote everything!)
'All the drama that humans suffer is the result of believing in lies, mainly about ourselves. The first lie we believe is I am not: I am not the way I should be, I am not perfect. The truth is that every human is born perfect because only perfection exists'.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Energy of Prayer

How to Deepen your Spiritual Practice
Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
Subject: buddhism
My rating: 4*

About the book:
Written by a Zen master now living in France, this is a small gem about how we use prayer. The preface is offered by Dr. Larry Dossey, who is well known for his work on integrating prayer in medicine. What I liked about this book is that it offers a great comparison between buddhism and christianity, and shows us the amazing similarities between them. For example, the author is actually taking The Lord's Prayer line by line and draws a parallel to buddhism teachings. This book made me reconsider the way I pray, and the way I look at the 'higher power', 'God' or 'Buddha'. Whatever your religion, this little book will open your eyes to the possibilities of praying and how much this can deepen your spiritual practice. It really is all energy.

From the book:
"Gathas for daily activities: Waking Up
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Washing hands:
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.