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Written by Suza Francina   

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles
Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles
Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles, Lotus Press, 2008

At first glance, I have to admit, this modest looking book, devoid of color photographs, looked b-o-r-i-n-g! But, out of respect for the author, who I first met in the 1970s when we were both taking our teacher training at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, I wanted to give the book a fair chance. As I perused the pages, jewel after jewel of wisdom caught my yogini-writer’s eye. Plus, I love the fact that throughout Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, Mukunda uses the word “yogini” which, if you think about it, is actually more inclusive than “yogi.” A refreshing change!

Mukunda is a lifelong student of classic yogic texts, and this book is not only a manual for a balanced Ayurvedic yoga lifestyle but a distillation of Mukunda’s dedication to expressing the essence of yoga in all of his writings and teachings.

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy makes clear that one of the greatest contributions of Ayurveda to true health is the understanding of individual constitution and the idea that what balances one person unbalances another. By marrying the sister sciences of yoga and Ayurveda, Mukunda moves away from an increasing tendency to medicalize yoga therapy. Instead of offering prescriptive recommendations for specific medical diagnoses, he presents sequences of vinyasa (moving with the breath) and pranayama (breath techniques) suited to Ayurvedic body types. My main criticism is that the line drawings of the sequences of poses do not include any references to the use of props. The average beginner cannot mimic the flexible figures depicted in the drawings. For this reason I do not recommend this book as a beginning reader’s sole instructional manual. Aside from this, Mukunda’s instructions of the poses reflect his deep understanding of yoga philosophy, anatomy and kinesiology.

Enlivened by stories and wisdom teachings, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy offers food for body, soul and spirit. I recommended this book for all serious – and not yet serious – yoga practitioners to access a deeper level of preventative self-care, in harmony with the seasons and attuned to the rhythm and balance of each individual.

Mukunda Stiles is the author of Structural Yoga Therapy: Adapting to the Individual and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: With Great Respect and Love. He is on the advisory board of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (iayt.org) and will speak on October 17 at the National Ayurvedic Medical Association Conference in Chicago: ayurveda-nama.org. Find Mukunda at: yogatherapycenter.org.

Suza Francina is a writer and yoga teacher in Ojai: suzafrancina.com.

 

 
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