January 4, 2014

Pick Your Yoga Practice. ~ Paige Vignola {Book Review}

Pick Your Yoga Practice is not a book that is meant to be picked up and read straight through from cover to cover, however, that is exactly what I did.

Meagan McCrary explains in her introduction that her book is designed to help remove some of the fog of mystery that envelopes many of the variants of the practice of yoga—there are so many. It is not a narrative; each chapter, after the chapters on history and philosophy, focuses on one and only one yoga style.

The book opens with a helpful style chart to determine which aspects of practice we, as practitioners, find most important. The chart boils down some bare basics: intensity of the practice, room temperature, meditative focus, overtly spiritual message, alignment focused, among many other things.

Pick YourYoga Practice is an in depth look at seven of the most well known and widely practiced forms of yoga as well as an overview of 10 other forms.

But before she even dips a toe into the waters of yogic styles, McCrary demonstrates her depth of knowledge about the history and development of yoga as well as an understanding of various philosophies.

Beginning with the Vedic texts, McCrary moves step by step through the classical and post-classical studies of the practice through to the modern day yogic upswing in America. She outlines the differences between the traditional dualistic philosophical views and the post-classical non-dualistic philosophies.

If I were interested in yoga from nothing more than a historical and academic perspective I would thoroughly enjoy McCrary’s book, yet there is much more to it.

McCrary’s intent is to provide uninformed students the means with which to determine what style of yoga is best suited to them. She recommends determining what one seeks from the practice—be it nothing more than physical exercise or a fully integrated spiritual path—by reviewing the convenient chart in her introductory pages they approaching only those chapters that speak to the practitioners needs.

Yoga styles are discussed in terms of the central tenets of each system, how the practice unfolds, what a beginner can expect, how much training a teacher in each system is expected to undergo and where one can find more information about that particular style. In addition, she traces the lineage of that yogic style to its founders and their teachers, allowing the reader to experience the vital back-history to their chosen style.

McCrary is thorough!

Meagan McCrary recommends her book be approached as a reference material—and like any good reference book it is full of information, both practical and esoteric—but, as I said, this is not how I read it. I like to pick up a book on page one and read through to the end and I treated her book no differently than any other in this regard. It did not detract from my impression of the work in the slightest. Her book reads as well cover to cover as it does in individual chapters.

I was impressed by both McCrary’s depth of knowledge and her ability to deliver it in language that would be approachable by even the most novice of yogis.

Read this book if you’re contemplating a new practice; read this book if you’re contemplating expanding your horizons into a different sphere; read this book if you’re seeking a generalized knowledge of the history of yoga and its development.

In simple terms: read this book.

Note: elephantjournal.com received these review items for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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Paige Vignola