I am reading a wonderful book a friend brought to me when I was in the hospital. The book, “How Yoga Works” has inspired me greatly in practice and kept students in mind as well. This book is perhaps the best I have ever read on Yoga, due to its genuine accuracy and truth of teachings of yoga, and that it truly teaches yoga, not a writing ‘about’ yoga in an academic sense.
Consider it required reading for any who have studied with me for more than a year. If you read one yoga book this year or two, let it be this one. Few are as valuable.
One key reason for this is in the format of the story itself: a young Tibetan girl ends up teaching an Indian prison captain in 1100 as she crosses over the border into India. So the book is a dialog between teacher and student, a key form for all source texts that actually teach. She carries with her Patanjali’s sacred texts the Yoga Sutras, or ‘short book on yoga’ written on palm leaves as was the practice of the time. All key yoga shastra or sacred source texts that actually teach yoga are written in Question & Answer format: The Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita… See Frawley article I will post on how The Bhagavad Gita is source yoga shastra, whereas the Yoga Sutras, which came much later are not. Rather the Yoga Sutras are a summation, an expository, concise collecting of the body of knowledge in yoga shastra that preceded them. Thus this book does not simply offer a translation of the Yoga Sutras, as so many do, rather a teacher to unfold the meaning in a teacher student relationship, in dialog format, as all the yoga shastra do. Beautiful. Let me know if any of the things the young girl says to the captain sound familiar .
I strongly recommend it to keep your practice fruitful, to keep the feeling that you have a teacher with you, and for the simple joy of a compelling story.
“I was really proud of him, my first real student, because he did the one thing that every successful student of anything has to do: he took what I had taught him home and practiced it there on his own, modestly but very steadily, to the best of his personal capacity. I could not have asked for more.” ~ How Yoga Works, p. 93
Daily it inspires and uplifts me, and keeps my heart focused on being well to teach again. The title “How Yoga Works,” is an accurate but unfair title as it is a great engaging story; but it does indeed unfold how yoga works in all the rich and most subtle and powerful essences of the practice, way beyond asana or the postures. I see how she learned from her teacher, and how she learns from her students and smile as the path is so familiar. The sacred glory of the teacher student relationship is well depicted here, and I think of of each of you as I read. It keeps our classes fresh in my mind and close to my heart. Enjoy.