|Link to buy from Amazon.com|
In yoga there is an unfair assumption that all men effortlessly perform gravity-defying lifts and all women snake their way into positions a contortionist would envy. While the mind-set of teachers and students often perpetuates some traditional gender roles, reality tells a different story. There are men who are hyper mobile and unable to lift their butts off the ground, and there are women who are stiff as a board but can balance unwaveringly". Kino Macgregor -The Power of Ashtanga yoga p172
So Kino's new book is finally out, this very day I believe. In fact I noticed this morning that she's posted a video on her Youtube channel (link below) where you can get a free copy of the book just by entering a comment, the comments then going into a draw.
Good place to mention too perhaps that my own copy of the book is a free review copy sent to me by the publishers Shambhala. That wouldn't stop me from being critical of the book but so far I'm struggling to think of anything bad to say about it.
Shambhala are of course an excellent publishing house, worth taking a look at their site especially this page about the history of the company and it's approach to publishing (not saying this just because they sent me a free book but I loved this page, interesting stuff).
I remember there was a bit of fuss about the cover art to Kino's book when we first caught a glimpse of it last year (lets get it out of the way before somebody raises it again).
You can play yourselves....what's wrong with this Asana?
|Link To buy from Kino's website store|
I'm scraping the barrel to think of things to complain about here but really, what's not to like, they've done a good job.
This book is all about what is possible and, more practically, how it's possible as well as the possibilities this practice opens up.
This is how I've come to see this practice myself, each asana, each vinyasa, entails a number of elements and we need to employ all of them effectively. Thing is we all pick up or more naturally employ one or more those elements at different stages of our practice, we all end up with a different missing piece or pieces. Kino lays out all the pieces, it might be nothing more than a lean forward at just the right time that makes the difference for you in a particular asana or a reminder to keep the pelvis level to help with your balance or the drawing up of the bandhas in an already, naturally stable posture that actually activates and (en)lightens it.
This enabling feeds through the whole book, every posture has a wealth of tips and hints for engaging X, facilitating Y and achieving Z. It's very much a hands-on book, the focus is on helping you not just to get into an asana but to achieve greater comfort and steadiness (in life as well as in practice). As such I find myself asking 'Who isn't this book for?' It's perfect for the beginner whether starting at in a shala with a teacher or at home with a book and a dvd (she mentions the home practitioner. But it's also for somebody who has practiced for a number of years and wants to not just tidy up the alignment of a posture but to achieve greater facility at every stage of the practice. Many of the instructions or rather suggestions that Kino includes I've come across before, most no doubt from her own Youtube channel and all it's tutorials but never so many in one place and in and for every posture. As such this is also strikes me as an excellent resource for the teacher.
But then it would be, Kino has been conducting hundreds of workshops all over the world over the last, what, seven years or so. The workshop environment strikes me as very different from adjusting in a Mysore room. I'm sure Kino could produce a book on silent Mysore adjustments but this book is a dialogue with the student. She's listened to her own body in her own practice of course but also to all those workshopee's she has worked with over the years and and then of course also to her own students in Miami with whom she's worked no doubt for a number of years, watching and assisting as their practice flourishes.
Amazon.com gives a good preview of the first part of the book. Here's the contents page.
"If you focus solely on attaining the asanas when you practice, you will most likely sacrifice the breath for the form, but the ends do not justify the means in Yoga. In fact, the means themselves are the ends. Yoga is about the journey and the process and if there is no space to allow a deep inhalation and exhalation to be your guide, there may never be space for you to be calm in your life" p27
I'm till struggling to find something to frown at with the book but mostly I found myself saying "Yes" again and again as I would find Kino presenting approaches to aspects of the practice that I've come to settle on in my own path. This book is very much part of and of the tradition and yet not in anyway dogmatic, that's a neat trick. There is a lot going on in the book, it's smart but approachable. Kino seems to have a knack for presenting the practice in a way that draws you in but without dumbing it down.
I'll be coming back again and again to the asana descriptions of course (sure there'll be more posts to come on it), can't flick through it without wanting to jump on the mat to try something, and as soon as I finish my practice I want to grab the book to check how she approaches a particular asana or vinyasa.
On my next day off I want to work through it posture by posture while on the mat, perhaps a post to come on that.
But I'll also be coming back to it for the ideas around the physical elements of practice, many of them will strike you as obvious as if they are things we've known all along but never verbalised , but timely reminders all the same and nicely put.
(I did know that didn't I?)