Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Secret Power of Yoga

After reading Yoga Bitch, I thought I might want to read a more serious book on yoga. My local library doesn't have a whole lot of yoga books readily available and so I ended up picking The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman's Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi.

The book seemed very accessible to someone who has not read the yoga sutras before. Chapters ended with suggested exercises and meditation guides to reinforce the general message.

What I took away from it was two interesting thoughts. One, the idea that emotions are like weather that goes over our mental landscape, and, like clouds and storms, they will pass on and return in cycles. Two, I have often been taught breathing exercises for my anxiety and usually think about breathing in good energy and breathing out bad energy. Devi encourages complete focus on the positive; that by focusing on releasing negative energy you are giving more power to the negative force in your mind. Instead she suggests both breathing in a positive thought and exhaling positivity out into the world. I found this to be extremely helpful and use it all of the time.

Some of the exercises felt really silly. It's a little hard to explain to your partner why you are staring into a mirror chanting "I am divine" without feeling a bit ridiculous. And all it made me think of was Divine, which I don't think was the intention.

My big issues with the book were that it is clearly, clearly written for upper-middle class women who don't work. The examples were all about how to balance your motherhood and personal space or how to tell a friend that you don't like her dress (Devi says lie about it. Seriously.). None of the examples had to do with what I think of as actual life, at least as I know it. Not one example I can remember had to do with a woman working.

In the end I would not really recommend this book. I'm sure there are better books out there about connecting yoga to your life. Any suggestions?

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