Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A book review

Yoga for Transformation - Gary Kraftsow

I sometimes think to myself that books like this should carry a warning for those yoga enthusiasts who think no further than the sweat and getting their leg behind the head. Warning – this book is not about asana!

To me however this is one of those books that really touches me with regard to the true meaning of yoga. After an overview about yoga during the three stages of life (sunrise, midday and sunset) Kraftsow focuses on the koshas. The five layers of the human being, physical (anamaya), energy (pranamaya), mental (manamaya), wisdom (vijnanamaya) and bliss (anandamaya), are looked at deeply in the five main chapters of this beautifully written book. Each chapter takes us through a new layer of human consciousness, showing us all the blocks and baggage we carefully arrange around ourselves throughout our lives to prevent us from looking much deeper than the physical. But peel away the layers and you can find so much more.

Each chapter ends with a practice. The practice revolves around a few basic yoga postures, the same set of postures for each chapter, but a different focus, a different way of practising that helps us to find the next layer by using breath, mantra, chants and meditations. This book is not about what we practice but how we practice, and how that practice can help us in our dealings with the world around us.

Interestingly Kraftsow teaches the koshas in an unusual way. Traditionally they are taught as being similar to the layers of an onion, which always made me wonder what we were meant to do with the layers we had peeled off. But here they are presented more as layers within a spiral. We can go as deeply as we want and then come back out to the surface again. We can concentrate on one area for a while before moving back to the physical. We can mix and match the practices in any way we feel is right. It is after all ourselves who seek transformation, not anybody else, and the five koshas are five parts of our whole.

What else can I say except beautiful, beautiful. A lot of inspiration for both my own practice and my teaching.

1 comment:

Everyday Yogini said...

I love this book, too. Your description of it is terrific!