Yoga Basics - C. Alexander SimpkinsThere are books that teach you how to do yoga, and then books that cover the background and history of yoga. Yoga Basics by C. Alexander Simpkins and Annellen Simpkins attempts to do both. How well does it achieve its goal?
The book starts off with the text. You learn how yoga began in India and how it made its way west. You learn about the philosophies of yoga. Don't harm others. Unite the mind and body. You learn about the forms yoga comes in - karma, tantra, and so on. You even get into the specific styles - Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kripalu. The book talks about how to find a class and what clothes to wear. We're past page 50 and we still haven't seen any description of yoga moves.
We get into warmup exercises - but there's no photos. Just wordy descriptions to try to describe what we should be doing. The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" exists for a reason. If I'm trying to do something with my body, often it's easier to see a body doing that, vs trying to read a description of it.
We finally reach the poses section, and the photos are small and black-and-white. I give them credit for including both men and women, but they're always white, young, and slim. There are such a greater variety of people who are interested in yoga, and it would have been good to include them in the images. Sometimes the images are well arranged, but at other times they do not clearly show the pose. Also, where most books use arrows and indicators so you can easily look at the photo and see what to pay attention to, here none of that exists. You have to decipher the accompanying text to figure out what to do and not to do. This might be fine for experienced practitioners - but for the newbies - which after all a "basics" book is written for - this task will be far more complex.
I like that the authors include chapters on breath and meditation. Some books neglect these important areas. On the other hand, when the book describes a relaxing evening routine, there are no photos at all. A user has to navigate the entire series through text alone, or perhaps do a fair amount of page-flipping to get from pose to pose.
I appreciate that color photos would have cost more, but there's a reason people use them - and there's a reason people use large photos with diagrams in them. They help the user understand what is being explained. And especially with yoga being so much about proper alignment and balance, having those photos to demonstrate the poses is critical. It's hard enough to learn yoga from a book vs from a video or a live instructor. If someone has to rely on the book, it needs to do its very best to present the information clearly. There are many other books out there which handle this task well. I think this current release of Yoga Basics does't use the printed medium as well as it could. There are a number of other superb "beginner" books out there which prove this point.
Rating: 3/5 stars
I acquired my copy at the local library, for my own personal use. Buy Yoga Basics from Amazon.com
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