5 star reviews, Health, Yoga

Body Mindful Yoga by Robert Butter and Jennifer Kreatsoulas

5/5 stars

This book found me just when I needed it.

I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was 12.  My teen years were difficult, as I didn’t participate in life because I was obsessed with food and not eating it or purging what I did eat.  I finally went for help when I was 20 and it was a long, slow struggle.

I felt my best in the years I was pregnant and when my girls were young.  I felt powerful, strong.  I was proud of my body and the two babies that it made.  I seemed to be able to easily maintain a normal weight with minimal effort.

I am 46 now and my body is changing it is has been presenting some serious issues for me.  I have been a vegetarian on and off for almost 30 years and as long as I focus on a whole food, plant based diet and do yoga several times a week, I am fine.  I can get myself to a place where I can accept my body and my natural aging process.  But it’s so easy to get caught up in…I should lift weights for bone density or I should do cardio for heart health and to burn some of the fat around my middle.  It all just seems to settle around my middle at this point.

Several months ago, I stopped eating Grape Nuts and fruit or a smoothie or toast and almond butter, banana and flax seeds for breakfast and started eating either a bowl of watermelon or a grapefruit.  I also cut out the crackers, almonds and piece of dark chocolate I enjoyed with my salad at lunchtime.  I made plant based dinners and took one helping and no more.  I had no dessert, no snacks.  I started doing pilates and Kettle Bell in addition to my almost daily yoga.  I thought I would lose weight.  NOPE.  After several months, my pants are TIGHTER not looser.  And I am angry and have become obsessed with eating, food, my diet and exercise.  Yoga is something I love to do and I have stuck with an almost daily practice for over 16 years (I started right after my youngest was born), but kettle bell and Pilates…not so much.  I don’t enjoy it, but I force myself to do it because it is good for me.  And yet I see no results and I am angry.  Also, my diet consists of watermelon or grapefruit for breakfast, a kale salad with either tomatoes, onions, beans, cucumbers and avocado or unsalted pumpkin and flax seeds, dried fruit and avocado for lunch and a plant based dinner – lentil tacos, chick pea chili over sweet potatoes, roasted vegetable and grain Buddha bowls, a veggie and tofu stir fry, etc.  No snacks, no dessert.  Lots of water.  No results.

I was defeated, depressed, upset…and then I saw this book on Netgalley.  Honestly, I had no idea what it was about, but I love yoga and I figured I would review a yoga book.  I did not expect it to be EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED to change my perspective.

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The authors contend that we often think of change on a large scale, in terms of events, but it starts with language.  What we say to ourselves shifts our perspective. We are bombarded with fad diets and before and after photos and that shapes how we view our own bodies.  But the author contends that “body image is a perception and not fact”.

The authors have mapped out a path to having healthier body narratives, with a step by step approach to learning to love yourself and your body.  They encourage you to listen to your body and know yourself, to learn about what makes you feel good or bad, Love: practice new guiding principles for your inner life and Live: share what you have learned with others.  There are personal stories from the authors and people they have worked with over the years.  There are also questions at the end of each chapter that the reader can use to journal and come to a deeper understanding of their own narrative and how to transform their inner life so that it can heal their body image.  Change starts from within.

Book reviews, Health, New Age, Self Care, Yoga

A Little Bit of Mindfulness by Amy Leigh Mercree

3.5/5 stars

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My Review:

This book is short.  I must say that for me, I find short books on these topics more appealing than heavy tomes.  I want to know more, but I really prefer reading fiction, so if I can learn about it quickly, I am in.  But if it’s going to be a long time commitment, I will watch a TED Talk.

This book starts out with an explanation of mindfulness and an exercise to center and focus the reader.  But then there is a lot of information on the history of mindfulness, Hinduism, Buddhism, how yoga became a part of Western culture, oxytocin and nuerotransmitters.  Once you wade through all of that, there are more exercises.  I found the exercise parts useful.  I practiced the Loving Kindness Exercise and found it very empowering.  The last part of the book shows the reader ways to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday life, from eating and drinking to emotions and relationships.  There were different exercises for each section.  I found it helpful and interesting.  There was a lot of good information in this book.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Sterling Ethos for my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

To purchase this book: Amazon.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Childrens' Books, Yoga

Let’s Play Yoga by Márcia De Luca + Lúcia Barros

4/5 stars

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I began practicing yoga to get back in shape after my second daughter was born and it changed my life.  I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was 12 years old.  I had never found an exercise routine that I liked enough to really stick with for more than a few months.  But yoga was different.  I toned muscle, but it also felt good.  Really good.  So good that I found myself wanting to do it and missing it if I didn’t do it.  I found myself able to breathe deeper and aware of my breath all the time.  I found myself calmer and more at peace when I practiced and feeling a little harried and crazed and unfocused when I did not practice.  I have had a regular almost daily practice for over sixteen years and I sing the praises of yoga to all who will listen.  I have turned my husband – who had never exercised outside of the occasional bike ride and one of my good friends – who had felt they couldn’t do yoga because they weren’t flexible enough – into devotees too.

So, when I saw books aimed at turning kids on to this amazing form of exercise, I was like, “Yeah!  Right on!” and I wanted to know more.

Let’s Play Yoga is a very cute book.  It starts out by explaining that ‘yoga’ means ‘union’ and that we are all stronger together.  It then goes on to explain that yamas are things to avoid – a lot of candy, bad thoughts, etc. and niyamas are things to do more of – like exercise and thinking positive thoughts.  I loved this simple explanation and I admit that even after all of these years practicing yoga, I never understood yamas and niyamas so clearly.

Let’s Play Yoga makes yoga a game kids can play.  It starts with ten rules, such as not being violent, telling the truth, right use of energy and not being jealous.

Then the authors created stories to go with the poses.  So Tadasana or Mountain pose, becomes Tada and is the story of a girl who stands tall like a mountain.  Then there are examples of how kids can stand tall and how it helps them focus and balance better when they practice this pose.

I thought it was a cute book and a cute way to teach kids about yoga.  I loved The Ten Basic Principles or Rules of Yoga – -those are such important lessons for all of us to learn and I can always use a reminder.  I also loved that the book explained what Sanskrit was and used the Sanskrit terms for the poses in the stories.  This book not only teaches the basics of yoga, but also presents ways for kids to bring yoga into the rest of their lives or as yogis say “off the mat”.

Credit line: Let’s Play Yoga! How to Grow Calm Like a Mountain, Strong Like a Warrior, and Joyful Like the Sun © Lúcia Barros and Márcia De Luca, 2014. Illustrations © Bruna Assis Brasil, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com

You can purchase this title on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Experiment Publishing for my copy!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Childrens' Books, Yoga

Yoga for Kids by Susannah Hoffman

4/5 stars

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In the foreward for this book, actress Patricia Arquette writes how “we live in a world of chaos” and “it’s important to find ways to heal and combat the fast world”.  That is what yoga is.  Yoga forces us to slow down, to breathe deep, to focus on our movements,  to accept ourselves where we are – I have yet to take a yoga class where the teacher does not, at some point, remind us that we are all different and that maybe we could do a pose deeper the day before but, like Susannah Hoffman, the author of this book tells readers that they are doing yoga perfectly for them that day, even if one side is tighter than the other or it’s more difficult today than it was yesterday.

This book starts by explaining that in yoga, we often start with “Om”–seated on the mat, cross-legged, leaving everything else behind and focusing on our breath.  And we end with “Namaste” – hands at prayer position, the light in you recognizing the light in others.  It’s the message we end with and try to take off our mats back into the chaotic world.

The first poses are warm up poses, simple things like shoulder stretches and side stretches, which encourages a warm up before getting into more complicated poses.  There are two pages explaining how to do each pose. After every few poses, Susannah Hoffman shows the reader how to put it together in a sequence or, as we say in yoga, “how to flow”.

There are pop-ups on some of the pages for grown-ups to tell them what the pose is doing and how to make sure their child is doing it in such a way that they won’t get hurt.

The photographs in this book are beautiful and very engaging and inviting, they made me want to get up and do yoga!  I loved how they used different kids of different ages and abilities and several kids with Down syndrome.

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I thought this was a great introduction to yoga for kids ages 7-12.  I would definitely consider buying this for the library.

I would like to thank Netgalley for my digital copy.