Pros: Easy for beginners Beneficial exercises for everyone Some techniques are usable anywhere
Cons: The book doesn't come with a personal trainer...
The Bottom Line: This is a great introduction to yoga for a beginner: the techniques are easy and very beneficial to someone who needs to chill out!
My one and only New Year's resolution this year was to be good to myself. I tend to put myself last in everything I do, and by December of last year I realized it was starting to affect my health. One thing I thought I'd try is yoga, so I put several books on hold and have slowly been getting them in. The first one I received was Yoga Bliss: Simple and Effective Routines for Chilling Out by Tara Fraser.
From the description and the appearance and size of this book, I figured it would be a short and to the point book of yoga poses and methods specifically for de-stressing, and since I really know nothing about yoga I figured it would be a quick way to just get my feet wet. It is copyrighted 2007, and is fairly small, square book : 6 inches on each side and about 1/2 inch thick. The book is divided into a few sections:
Introduction Chill out with yoga Three-minute stress busters Daily routines Weekend routine Breathe easy Daily meditations Further reading, CDs and DVDs Index
The introduction and first section of the "Chill out with yoga" section talk about what yoga can do to relieve stress and anxiety as well as what you can expect from this book: basic routines and postures that are simple and very effective. A short section called "The path to bliss" talks a little about yogic theory and tradition, and explains the five koshas or bodies. Following is are sections on "How to practise" and "Basic principles," both giving pointers on what to do, how often, and what to avoid when practicing yoga.
"Three-minutes stress busters" offers a few poses that the author says can transform the way you feel in just a few minutes. The hardest one for me was the classic position that seems to symbolize yoga: sitting in a cross-legged position with thumbs and fingers in chin mudra (it looks like the o.k. sign) you are supposed to be able to practice the ujjayi breath, a controlled breathing method that, without anything to go off, I had no idea if I was doing right. Others were the semi-supine and the figurehead.
"Daily routines" includes two different 20 minute stress-relieving yoga routines, each made up of 7 separate poses. Honestly it took me quite awhile when I tried the first routine... I had to check the book during and after each pose to see if I was doing it right. I'm sure you're supposed to memorize the sequences, and after more training or practice I'm sure it would go more smoothly and be more beneficial.
"Weekend routine" is a longer, more intense yoga routine made up of several poses. I was pretty intimidated by the idea of a 40-60 minute sequence, so I didn't not to commit to doing the whole thing all the way through. I flipped through and tried some of the poses, many of which were in the previous sections, including forward bend, warrior pose, bridge, and a few new poses, like the swan pose. While at first I assumed the weekend routine would be the thing I avoided most in this book, it really ended up being something I look forward to being able to do smoothly.
"Breathe easy" is probably my favorite section of the book, and one that many people should copy and tack to their cubicle walls. With eight different breathing techniques I'm sure anyone can find one that would benefit them in their daily life. The first breathing technique I tried was the abdominal breath which Fraser said would seem "like a ridiculously simple exercise," and which was exactly the reason I chose it. It was easy but incredibly relaxing, and I've found myself doing it a few times on my own at the end of my day to calm down. The Ujjayi breath was another one I tried and enjoyed. The author does a wonderful job in this section providing down-to-earth, easy instructions on how to benefit from these exercises; this section was the easiest and most rewarding for me, and also probably the reason I decided to purchase the book.
"Daily meditations" is comprised of a handful of meditative exercises. The first and most appealing to me was a walking meditation; walking is something I enjoy doing and the exercise really helps develop a focus on the rhythm and calming quality. Others included, like the chin mudra, were beyond me. I think I may need help or more practise to really understand how to meditate before I can benefit from it.
Fraser has included simple illustrations that really enhance the book's appeal and usefulness. As a complete beginner to yoga it was very helpful to have illustrations for each and every pose. The book features a modern-looking girl character of average height and weight performing each pose, exercise, and sequence. The illustrated character remains expressionless and does each pose in an easy-to-understand way. The illustrations are detailed and exactly enough without being distracting or hard to understand. Many people -myself included- who are attempting yoga for the first time and even people who are frequent yoga-ers will be comforted by the use of an illustrated character as opposed to a real person who's appearance (read: perfect body) may be somewhat of a downer. The pages are different colors and occasionally have some simple decorative detail, but again, the focus is on the illustrated poses and the descriptions without the unnecessary, un-yoga-like excessive distractions.
The author, Tara Fraser, is very easy to understand in her writing style. My only complaint is that I couldn't get any feedback when I was trying to positions, techniques, and poses, and considering the book didn't claim to come with Tara Fraser attached to it, I really can't complain too much. Having to re-read parts and double check wordings is a small price, or even the only price I've had to pay to reap the benefits of this book. One of my fears was that I would not get very much out of a book because I don't have an actual person to help me or tell me when I'm doing something right or wrong. The other side of that is that I'm very timid and am not totally comfortable taking a class (with GASP! other people) as a beginner, so I wanted a book that was easy to understand as well as enjoyable. I got just what I was looking for in Yoga Bliss. Well known yoga enthusiast Tara Fraser presents enough basic, easy information for the beginner to get inspired and give yoga a try. I've found myself using some of the 3-minute stress busters and breathing techniques to help ward of panic attacks and anxiety attacks at home and at work (because they're that low-key and easy), and I even enjoyed doing some of the sequences and longer, more difficult poses and techniques. At under $10, I plan on purchasing this little book, which will either appease my current interest in yoga cheaply and for a short time, or, more likely, help spawn a new passion for my own personal yoga practice. I already have goals that have grown from this book (see the "Weekend routine" bit... I'm eager to get to that point!) and I can only see it benefiting me from here on out.
Whether you're a yoga fanatic of beginner, crack out your library card and track this one down for check-out. Chances are, like me, you'll be purchasing it before you know it.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Yoga Bliss: Simple and Effective Routine...?