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If you read one book about yoga this year : The Science of Yoga

For anyone interested in yoga, skeptical about its transformative nature, or unclear on the factual benefits, this book is a must read. In fact, I would question any teacher training that didn’t include it on the reading list.

Addressing yoga from a variety of aspects including the health benefits and risks, the relationship to creativity and sexuality, and the physiology of asana a well as pranayama, Broad has both done the research and found the science to back up the facts he has revealed.

One of the challenges in the international yoga community, as Broad points out, is the lack of any governing body. Because of this, it can be challenging to find a teacher whom is both experienced and will guide you within your limits of a safe practice even in the context of a large group.

He highlights some key points that may be interesting for a yoga student to consider when choosing a teacher: -Is the teacher continually getting injured through their practice of yoga? -Are other students getting injured regularly in their class? -Does the teacher ‘force’ you into postures when adjusting without truly knowing the limitations of your body? -Are they dogmatic and deluded into thinking their way of practicing is the only ‘right’ way, while being dismissive of other styles or schools? -Are they available for questions and do they have answers based on experience and fact, or are they reciting something they have heard second hand?

As the whole point of yoga is to get rid of ego, these questions can be a good indicator of how developed a teacher’s practice is.

Regarding the practice of yoga and safety, the key appears to be listening to one’s own body and needs. Just because BKS Iyengar teaches a pose in one way or Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga method teaches a set of postures in another way, doesn’t make either right for every body. Several of the practitioners he interviewed were dealing with serious consequences of pushing themselves too far early on in their yoga practice, resulting in chronic problems later in life that even resulted in major surgery or an inability to practice whatsoever. We all have different bodies, and ultimately if we want to live longer and healthier, a yoga practice with that in mind is surely more important than how many urhdva dhanurasanas you practice each day or whether or not you can balance on your head. With all the hype around yoga styles and the surrounding expensive lifestyle trends, it turns out that listening to the body and breathing with awareness remain the backbone to a solid practice and the key to slowing the mind.

Thank you, William Broad.

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