Posted by Kate Storm Guthrie
Books on yoga connect us with the greater yoga community, wisened practitioners around the world and the lineage of teachers that is the backbone of this ancient art. For me, yoga literature is an important inspiration. When I feel dry on the mat, disconnected from the "why" of stretching, stillness and breath, the words of someone old, wiser and further along the path can stir me towards meaning.
One of my favorite books on yoga is The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health, by Linda Sparrowe, former managing editor of Yoga Journal, and Patricia Walden, a widely respected Iyengar teacher. Sparrowe offers well-researched discussions of specific issues, from the more general including depression, premenstrual syndrome, menopause and digestion to the more particular, including eating disorders, pregnancy and osteoporosis. She draws from personal experience, Western medicine, Ayurveda and more. Each discussion is followed by a brilliant sequence designed by Walden. While the focus is on women's health, the information and sequencing for indigestion, poor immunity and back pain is appropriate for men as well.
A classic on the shelf is Vanda Scaravelli's masterpiece, Awakening the Spine. A student of B.K.S. Iyengar, Scarvelli was a renowned yogi from Italy. She is famous for her authentic, if not eccentric, relationship to yoga. One of her practices was to stand in tadasana (mountain pose) for an hour or more, rooting into the earth. Most of her book is comprised of a series of personal, philosophical essays on such topics as Matter and Energy, Beauty, Transformation and Going Round (which she means literally). This is followed by her primary asanas.
Inner Beauty, Inner Light, by Frederick LeBoyer is a beautiful treat for pregnant mommas. Author of the groundbreaking Birth Without Violence, LeBoyer's exploration of yoga reads likes an honest, deeply moving poem. The words are complemented by black and white photos of Vanita Iyengar, the teacher's daughter. I enjoy reading a page or two of this book and exploring an asana with LeBoyer's reflection echoing in my mind (even though I'm not pregnant).
As smalltown yogis, books can offer a source of inspiration when we need a boost on our mats. Probably because Jennie is a devoted practicioner, her bookstore has an excellent section on yoga for everyone, including women, families, older folks and people with specific issues.