Is Yoga really a panacea?
Yoga Cures is a new book by New York yoga instructor Tara Stiles that is hitting the stands with a loud boom. Throughout the book, Stiles offers yogic cures for all types of ailments; from anxiety to fatigue, wrinkles to a hangover, shin splints to car ride anxiety. Stiles seems to have a yogic remedy for whatever ails ya.
I’m a huge fan of yoga literature with books giving me that kick of inspiration I need to get off the couch and onto the mat. I was extremely motivated to dive into this book and start learning. After finishing this fresh new read, I decided that it was pretty good. Not the best yoga book I’ve ever read, but definitely has its fine points. Allow me to break it down via the very evolved column method.
Things about the book that makes me want to wave my hands in the air and say “YAY!”
Tara Stiles has a reputation for being down to earth and non pretentious in her teachings. I feel that this book exemplifies those characteristics very much, and makes the reader feel comfortable in understanding what shes trying to say. She writes as if you are talking with a friend about yogic cures, and throws quip in here and there which makes the reading process even more delightful. Also, the overall layout of the book is very clean and simple, complete with sample boxes and pictures. Very helpful to the average youtube watcher and visual learners all around. Stiles ended the book with three unique “at home yoga retreats” complete with an asana sequence, for day and night, and includes some encouraging tips to keep the reader on a holistic cleansing path. I liked this added little bonus and think it was a great personal touch sending a strong message of support.
Things about the book that makes me shrug my shoulders and say, “ehh…maaaaybe”
Although I agree that practicing hatha yoga can help in many ways, I failed to understand the connections between the specific poses Stiles suggests in conjunction the “ailment” she lists. In the hangover section Stiles suggests a headstand as a remedy. Granted she does offer a precaution about not practing the pose if not completely comfortable with it, but she doesn’t give any insight as to why this inverted pose would help your hangover. I have been practicing head stand four about two years now, and I have had many hangovers…oh so very many hangovers. I don’t think anyone could have paid me enough to do a headstand when I was hungover. Flowing blood to my head just sounds like it would make me even more dizzy and sick. Plus, my hangovers are usually complete with nausea, and usually when hungover I work to flow my energy (and toxins) downward because if it starts moving the other direction, I’m vomiting. Don’t care where, don’t care on whom..it’s happening.
I think suggesting headstand for a hangover would have been much more credible if Stiles gave any explanation as to why she believes it’s helpful
I actually felt the asanas Stiles suggested throughout the entire book were more on the advanced side rather than beginner’s. I got the impression that she was talking to the beginner yogi, but when offering sequences for each cure, she did not offer any modifications, contraindications, or easier variations. The argument Stiles is trying to present – that “Yoga Cures” – would have been more supported if the “cures” where more accessible to everyone, not just power yogis.
Lastly, although the list of “cures” was long, I felt that Stiles simply, yet creatively, just found a bunch of ways of saying the same thing: yoga makes you less stressed. Stress is a very powerful component in a person’s life and really should not be underestimated; studies have shown that stress contributes to things such as overeating, out-of-whack emotions, high blood pressure, etc. Stiles may have just googled “affects of stress” and boom! There was a list of things yoga can cure and a new book.
There were a couple of other minor annoyances such as the absence of the asana sanskrit names, the title of the book being “Yoga Cures” when it should really be called “Hatha Yoga Cures,” and the tone that yoga is a panacea…which I adamantly argue that it is not. What it is is a kick ass supplement to life. But I think these things would only bother a real yoga dweeb (like myself) and some other folks who’ve been the game a long time.
If you’re new to yoga and are wondering why it’s so trendy, then I would definitely recommend this book. It gives a great list of the different areas where yoga can help improve the quality of life (and it’s a quick and simple read). On the other hand, if you have been practicing for a while and have a fairly good idea about the effects of yoga, I don’t think you’re going to find any new inspiration here…it may be best if you go chase down that new Iyengar book if you’re looking for wisdom, detail, or detailed wisdom. YfM
- Tara Stiles takes Yoga Out of the Studio with New DVD and iPad App (themactrack.com)
- Friended by Jane Fonda (mindbodygreen.com)
- Exhausted? Hungover? The Moves to Get You Back on Your Feet! (self.com)
- Yoga cocktail (mixing yoga with other moves) (marcbestgen.net)