Yoga is a personal journey. Everyone has a different journey, and there are plenty of ways to choose from. There's a plethora of books, magazines, DVDs, and information all over the Web. Any major city has dozens of studios to choose from. With so much out there, it's very difficult to decide how to start. I've sampled a lot of yoga over the last couple years. To be perfectly frank, there are very few differences in the teaching you'll get from each studio. I realize many yogis would debate me on that point, which highlights one of the biggest problems I've noticed in the yoga community: a disconnect between experienced yogis and people off the street. This is what drew me to Kino MacGregor.
Kino is one of the most advanced Ashtanga yogis in the world. She's created a large library of yoga videos, both online and on DVD. She writes for various publications (including The Huffington Post), and has now released her second book: The Power of Ashtanga Yoga. While her first book is a great autobiography for those interested in learning about the yoga journey, it's her new book that accomplishes something fantastic.
An Alternative to Traditional Yoga Classes
Many yoga teachers seem to be afraid of imparting all of their knowledge. They hold back because they view their books, videos, etc. simply as marketing tools to get you into their classes. It's just merchandise, and you're just a consumer. This train of thought leads to these yogis holding back important information. Kino does the opposite, proving both her teaching ability and business savvy by explaining everything in as much detail as possible. Between her books and videos, she easily imparts more than 200 hours' worth of yogic wisdom for anyone willing to put in the effort. Instead of only giving you a sample in hopes that you'll come to her and give her your money like many other teachers, she gives every ounce of information she can fit into each situation she's teaching.
Because of her deep well of knowledge, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga works on its own as a teacher. In it, Kino manages to incorporate everything you ever wanted to know from a yogi. She seamlessly incorporates personal experiences, useful gems of wisdom, and detailed technical knowledge of the practice. Rather than bombarding you with an overload of technical information or droning on and on about generic information as most yoga books tend to do, Kino stops quite often to relate the information on a personal level. She manages this quite well because she doesn't hold back. Sometimes it feels like she knows the objections you have to a concept before even you do.
The Heroic Journey
The book starts off with Kino introducing herself and her personal journey into yoga. In doing this, she steps down from the imaginary pedestal students tend to put their yoga teachers on. She's not some superhero performing feats you could never achieve. She's just a person who invites you to walk alongside her on the journey while pointing out different paths. It makes the rest of the book easier to get through by turning a lecture into a conversation.
The Power of Ashtanga Yoga isn't just about Kino, though. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The book gets into the nitty gritty of yoga theory. Kino summarizes the most important information you'll find in books used for most teacher trainings, such as the Yoga Sutras and Light on Yoga. She outlines the eight limbs, the history, the benefits, the breathing and focus techniques, and the optimal diet of yoga. This information is vital information to understand during your yoga practice. It's not just bending. That being said, from there, the book goes into the bending...
The Ashtanga Primary Series
Not only is there an illustrated overview of the poses from the Ashtanga Primary Series featuring Kino in her trademark sports bra and shorts, there's also a technical breakdown of each individual pose. Most yoga books I've read simply show a pose and a couple alternatives. Kino does much more. She breaks down in detail every movement that's required to get into the pose. There are pictures to help you along. She lists the benefits of each pose. She explains what you should look out for and how to avoid injury or overexertion.
After guiding you through a full Primary Series from front to back, Kino continues imparting her yoga wisdom by explaining some yoga anatomy and providing more detail on some of the more advanced yoga techniques. This is information you'll find quite valuable as you progress through your practice. She ends the book with various "cheat sheets" containing the traditional Ashtanga opening and closing chants, breath counts, picture guides, and a glossary of yoga terms.
The Final Word
All in all, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga advances Kino's goal of bringing yoga to the masses. It's a great entry point for anyone considering a yoga practice. It's also a necessary edition to any advanced yogi's library. Kino gets a lot of blowback from yoga purists who disagree her methods, but her book goes a long way in silencing these critics. The Power of Ashtanga Yoga is as close as you can get to having a world class yoga teacher with you wherever you go.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He's a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, and HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Manduka and Tazo. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.
For more from Brian Penny, click here.
For more from Kino MacGregor, click here.
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