Recently I was given the incredible opportunity of reviewing the recently released book Pick Your Yoga Practice by Yogi and author, Meagan McCrary. I also got the opportunity to ask Meagan a few questions and share a video with you with insights into her yoga approach and why she decided to write this book.
PIck Your Yoga Practice is a fantastic resource for any yogi practitioner , new or seasoned, or just for anyone who is thinking about practicing yoga. It features an overview of yoga and it’s history, as well as several of the main styles of yoga. Each of these are explained in detail, including their history, what a typical class might feel like, and any other aspects specific to that style. This book is a great way to decide what style of yoga might suit you best or to learn more about an unfamiliar style of yoga when it’s added to your studio schedule. It would be especially useful for any teacher training program, as teachers from all styles and backgrounds would benefit in knowing more about the other styles available and what their students may have experienced in other classes. The only thing I wished it had was information on Yin and Restorative yoga, but it did have tons of information on one of my favorite style, Moksha Yoga, as well as plenty of details I didn’t know about a few of the more well-known styles. As I was reading, I wanted to go out and try each style because they all have something amazing that is unique to them.
My favorite excerpt was this:
Conscious breathing is what makes yoga a mental and spiritual discipline; without your awareness of the breath, your yoga practice is simply another form of Eastern calisthenics.
I found this rang true with me and helped me explain the deeper benefits of the practice to some of my new yogis in a very accessible and easy to understand format. AND it made me pay even more attention to my breath during my own practices, which immediately drops you into the present moment and the experience of your body and mind. This book is full of these wonderful little tidbits throughout, without pushing any specific practice or style on you.
Words of Wisdom for the Author to Help You Find the Right Yoga Practice for You in 2014:
Practice Yoga with Intention
A Guide to Choosing the Right Style for the New Year
By Meagan McCrary
We’re in the thick of the holiday season, heading into the darkest days of winter with the promise of a new year on the not-so-distant horizon. As we make the transition, we have the opportunity to reflect over the closing year and set intentions for the upcoming one. Whether you want to become lithe and toned, address specific health issues, gain more clarity, develop a sense of peace, discover your life’s purpose or whatever it is — choosing a yoga style that supports your intention for the New Year is essential for staying on course. Here’s a guide to get you started:
To become svelte try Ashtanga-vinyasa yoga
Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic, physically demanding practice that synchronizes breath and movement to produce a strong internal heat designed to purify the body. With its many vinyasas (vinyasa meaning “breathing-moving system”), this style is particularly great for building upper body and core strength while toning the whole body. Prepare to sweat as you briskly move through a set sequence of postures while remaining focused on your breath.
To gain stability and increase mobility try Iyengar yoga
Iyengar yoga is the practice of precision, paying close attention to the anatomical details and alignment of each posture. Rather than moving quickly from one pose to the next, postures are built methodically with steadfast concentration and held for longer periods of time, and props are often used to modify the poses. The method is designed to safely and systematically cultivate strength, flexibility and stability along with mind-body awareness, and is particularly therapeutic for individuals with specific limitations and conditions.
To detox try Bikram yoga
Bikram yoga is a set series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises done in 105-degree heat with 40 percent humidity for ninety minutes — you’re going to sweat. The specific sequence of poses systematically works every part of the body from “bones to skin,” bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to every internal organ, vein, gland and fiber, while the heat and serve to speed up the natural detoxifying process.
To become more centered try Integral yoga
Integral yoga is a combination of yoga disciplines designed to systematically address all layers of the body, from the physical down to the more subtle aspects of being, the emotional, energetic, and mental bodies. Classes tend to be gentle, slow, and accessible, placing equal emphasis on pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation as well as asana practice. Transforming the whole person, Integral yoga aims to help student access the place of peace and happiness that resides within each of us.
To ignite your passion and creativity try Kundalini yoga
Kundalini yoga is a spiritual practice aimed at expanding consciousness, igniting passion and increasing physical vitality by accessing kundalini-shakti and integrating prana throughout the body. The method is multidimensional, using rhythm, movement, breath and sound to effectively stimulate and shift your energy. Alternating between active exercises (known as kriyas) and mini-periods of relaxation, you’ll be guided to pay close attention to any internal sensations you’re experiencing — releasing stored emotional and psychological blocks and allowing creative energy to flow.
To develop more self-acceptance and compassion try Kripalu yoga
Kripalu yoga is a comprehensive and compassionate approach to self-study that uses asana, pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation as its primary tools for promoting physical health, calming the mind, opening the heart and developing deeper levels of self-awareness. The method is inquiry-based. Prompted by questions such as What are you feeling right now? What is your body asking for? students are encouraged to move and modify the postures, discovering what works best for them. Above all else, Kripalu emphasizes practicing with compassionate self-awareness and acceptance.
To explore spirituality try Jivamukti yoga
Jivamukti yoga is a physically dynamic, intellectually stimulating and spiritually inspiring method that incorporates chanting, meditation, deep relaxation and pranayama into a vigorous vinyasas practice with a heavy injection of philosophy, poetry, music and affirmations. The system emphasizes the living spiritual tradition of yoga, bringing ancient teachings alive in a contemporary setting and applying the wisdom to daily life. Aside from asana classes, t the Jivamukti Yoga Center in NYC offers courses in Sanskrit and scriptural study, as well as kirtans and nonprofit events.
Whatever style of yoga you choose, being clear on your intention for practicing will help you get the most out of your time spent on the mat. And don’t beat yourself up if you fall out of practice from time to time, most of us do. Unlike resolutions, which by definition are rigid, intentions are softer, more fluid. They are riverbanks on your path, helping guide you in the direction you want to go — reminding you of the bigger picture so that you don’t get lost in the day to day.
Meagan McCrary is a Los Angeles based yoga teacher and the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice. She teaches for Equinox Sports Clubs, works one-on-one with some of the entertainment industries leading professionals, and holds workshops and retreats nationally and internationally. Visit her online at http://www.meaganmccrary.com.
Based on the book Pick Your Yoga Practice © 2013 by Meagan McCrary. Printed with permission of New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com
Peace and Love,