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Why I like the Coffee Table Book: 2,100 Asanas

OK so I've decided to launch a Book of the Month feature to my blog. I had a quick sift through my bookcase and came up with this doorstop of a book: 2,100 Asanas by Daniel Lacerda (also listed as the founder of Mr Yoga inc).

You probably already know that "asana" is the Sanskrit word for poses (loose translation!). And if you didn't, the sub heading The Complete Yoga Poses" is a big clue! The picture of a scantily clad lady deep in Trikonasana/Triangle Pose is the clue that, while it may be easy on the eye, poses are likely to be challenging to say the least. This is not the Dru way or the kind of poses I teach but it could be many people's idea of yoga and possibly the reason why some people believe they "can't do yoga", "they're not flexible enough" or "they are too old".

So why is this book in my collection at all? To be honest, it wouldn't have been my instant choice. It was a Christmas present from my son who's realised that googling "Yoga crap for mad mothers" is the quickest and easiest route to pressie success.

And why have I decided to feature 736 page hardback with 2,100 poses, many completely unobtainable by normal human beings as my first book? First of all, I've not actually read the book - let's face it, it's not really that sort of book. There are lots (lots and lots ...) of pictures and, as many of them are extreme, I've flicked through the pages, smiled at some of the pictures, grimaced and wondered at others but not bothered reading any of the words. Probably that's true of many people with this book. I'm hoping that featuring a different book each month will motivate me to actually engage with all the books in my collection and, perhaps, introduce others to books they might not have considered before.

While this book is fun and pretty to look at, it does concern me that people (especially beginners) might be put off by the extreme poses. Yoga is about the journey, not the destination, and the fact is that featuring such extreme poses could put some people off even starting their own journey. I personally have no wish to take my practice to extreme - but that doesn't make my practice any less beneficial or valid.

However, having now taken the time to read the book itself, I've realised that it's not all pictures there are quite a few pages of text which are quite informative.

It opens with an introduction from Mr Yoga himself and he stresses the importance of mindfulness and quietening the mind (chittavritti = mind chatter) to connect physically and mentally. There is an opening prayer that reminds us not to be ego led, rather to realise our inner self.

You can then read briefly about the history of yoga and the eight limbs of yoga. This will be familiar ground for yoga teachers but rarely touched on in a general yoga class. You then get an explanation of Ujjayi breath which I explain in most of my classes but Mr Yoga's description might resonate better with you. This is followed by the Bandhas which are locks - not for beginners to overthink but it's good to have this introduction as it is an important part of yoga practice, as are the Drishtis, your focus point as you move into and hold poses.

The first pose is Savasana/Corpse Pose (spelt the alternative way of Shavasana) which is honestly the most difficult pose of all. The second pose is actually called "Easy Pose" which really is just sitting with your legs crossed and for, some people, not easy at all. I like the instruction given not to "perform" exercises as if you had an appreciative audience. This is your personal journey.

The summary of the chakras is excellent - definitely a great reference point for students and teachers alike. It includes a description of the nadis (energy channels) which I often refer to in class.

The benefits and cautions for eight major conditions is very useful. Lots of information and reading there although you may need to get out your magnifying glass to read it all!

So on to the pictures, all 2,100 of them: Each pose has a picture, Sanskrit name and phonetic pronunciation guide, English translation, modification, pose type ie standing etc, and Drishti Point (gaze focus). It starts with the simplest form ie Mountain Pose, moving into hand and arm stretches and so on.

As some of the Amazon reviews state, it is a very thorough and extensive collection of illustrations along with descriptions making it fantastic reference for teachers - great for adding variations and challenges to a class. It's definitely not for beginners but some of the starting poses are and the yoga theory is excellent and simply explained. We could definitely explore some of the postures and movements in class but don't attempt any of the advanced poses without careful instruction and preparation - definitely some of them need a "don't try this at home" warning.

Let me know if I've piqued your interest. Would you like to explore this book more? I can bring it to a class and we can look through it together during coffee and social time if anyone wants that. The book is available on Amazon: 2,100 Asanas for £25 or just £3.99 for the kindle version.

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