I’m pretty nerdy- just ask anyone. When I want to learn something new, which is all the time, my first move is not to try it, or take a class,or ask a friend. My first move is to read about it.
When I first started getting into yoga seriously, about 7 years ago, I scouted for things to read. There are yoga books, and there are yoga books. Some are just so serious, or scarily philosophical. The one I’d like to share today is neither of those. It is super-approachable, with variations of poses, performed by real people, and explanations of how to work toward releasing muscles and building strength.
Cool Yoga Tricks, by Miriam Austin, works through various poses in a user friendly way. Austin takes several variations of each category, like forward bends or back bends, and explains what to feel for, what to look for, how to adapt with props, or how to adapt with a friend.
Let’s look at Full Wheel, AKA Urdvha Dhanurasana. To start, there is a photo of the author herself demonstrating the pose, in majestic surroundings, by a cliff. Lovely. There are also bullet points of what each body parts is supposed to be contributing. On the next page, Austin acknowledges that many people hate this pose because we aren’t strong enough yet to push up into it. She suggests using a chair, and explains how to do it. ]
The following pages have suggestions of how to get help from a friend,, or how to use blankets and blocks, and how to use two friends.
I use this book two ways- the first is when I am working towards something. My bookmarks are in the section on back bends, because I want to figure out how to improve them (I’m working on finding the friends to hold my arms and legs.
The second way is when I just flip through and something catches my eye. You’ve heard the saying, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Sometimes, a bullet point or explanation will jump out at me, and it just clicks. For example, I have been doing Tree pose, AKA Vrksasana,, as a basic balance forever, not really thinking about it, wiggling around and trying my best. One time, flipping through the book, I found the bullet point “press your foot into your thigh, and your thigh into your foot.” Zing- I won’t swear that various teachers down the line haven’t said this, or something like it in class, but I never thought about it before. It helps with balance so much, and strengthens muscles, and actually makes it easier to maintain the pose without my foot slipping around. Things like this happen all the time with this book.
A quick check on Amazon reveals that it is available as an ebook, and as a paperback. There are some used copies available for pretty cheap. (I don’t do affiliate links with Amazon, I wish I could, but last I checked Colorado law doesn’t allow it. Oh well. I like the book enough to recommend it without getting any money.)
So, now that you know I’m a nerd- what exercise/movement/sports books have helped you? They don’t have to have changed your life, but what has made a difference for you?