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on March 5, 2003
This is a most unusual book. The author, a professor of anatomy and long-time yoga practitioner, explores, in great detail (when necessary), the human anatomy as it relates to the practice of hatha yoga. For someone such as myself who previously knew *Nothing* about human anatomy, this was a fascinating journey. If nothing else the book will teach you about anatomy, a topic you may previously have had no interest, but in the process it will deepen your knowledge of yoga. Its really well done how the author brings such a seemingly dry, technical subject to life. The author nicely groups the discussion around particular topics as they relate to yoga. For example, there are chapters on the nervous system, on breathing, and on what is happening with your hips and sacrum. Perhaps there are similar books on the market, but I suspect not. I'm reminded of Bill Graham's comment about the Grateful Dead: "They're the best in the world at what they do; they're the only ones in the world who do what they do." I suspect similar comments would apply here. Physically, the book is well produced. Considering the glossy paper used, the price of the book is quite reasonable. The are fantastic anatomic drawings that greatly add to one's understanding. Read this book, and enrich your practice of yoga.
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on February 11, 2004
This book is essential if you want to deepen your yoga practice, for how can you really fully understand and better your practice if you don't have a clear understanding of the mechanics of your own body? My suggestion to get the most of the book is to first read chapter one "Movement and Posture" to get a general foundation of the concepts and terminology that will be used throughout the book. Subsequent chapters provide detailed anatomical information pertinent to types of postures. Chapters, therefore, are in the vein of "Abdominopelvic Exercises", "Standing Postures", "The Shoulderstand", etc. So choose a style of asana that you'd like to focus on, read through the pertinent chapter, and then spend a couple of weeks putting the knowledge to work experientially, deepening your understanding of those areas of your body and the series of associated asanas. Don't expect to learn the vast amount of information in one reading. Expect to frequently refer back to the book as you put the information into practice. In my opinion, you'll get far more value out of the book if you use it as an experiential guidebook, rather than treating it like a textbook.
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on April 29, 2003
A much needed approach to yoga! As a yoga teacher, I found this book to be extremely useful and I have referred beginning (and not so beginning!) students to at least read the "basic premises". As others have mentioned, the only drawback is it is not all easy reading and some may be put off by that. But even if you read excerpts throughout, you & your practice will benefit immensely from this book.
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on October 17, 2003
This is an excellent book for tachers of yoga, as well as for those teaching other physical disciplines. The author has a clear grasp of anatomy and a readable presentation style. What takes this book a step beyond other anatomy texts is that in addition to a basic and general presentation of anatomy , the author then connects that basic anatomy to yoga postures, including photos and diagrams. I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching others to work with their bodies.
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on May 26, 2004
The one problem with this amazing tool -- and here I disagree with an earlier reviewer -- is the lack of Sanskrit names for poses. The myriad English names for poses, names that have developed in various studios, seem to be regional and unheard of outside of their limited expanse. It would have been easier to cross-reference postures to texts such as Light on Yoga, if "Anatomy of Hatha Yoga" had consistently supplied the original Sanskrit, instead of vague, although evocative, English bastardizations.
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on November 2, 2002
This book is required for the yoga teacher training I am enrolled in. I've read it from cover to cover and I was blown away by the amount of information Coulter presents. He doesn't make references to specific schools but presents things very generally. He also doesn't use too much Sanskrit, so most yoga students shouldn't be too intimidated by the material.
The information he presents on Breathing, the importance of the Abdominopelvic muscles (or the "core muscles", as they're popularly known today) and his chapter on Forward Bends where he discusses nutation were my favorite portions. Coulter isn't doctrinaire in most cases, as is appropriate for someone discussing the anatomical aspect of yoga. He presents variations for the popular poses (forward bends, cobra, triangle, etc.) and discusses what the ramifications of the modifications are. While some are called "advanced" and some are called "beginner", it doesn't come off as a value judgment.
Because Coulter was so thorough throughout the entire book and backed up almost every statement with a logical explanation, it was noticeable when he did not. For instance, he, like almost every other author of a yoga text, recommends that women not practice inversions if they are menstruating. Why? I really hoped that someone with his background would be able to supply an explanation other than because that's the way it's been done. Also, while he spends quite a bit of time talking about the importance of the right tetrahedron for meditation postures and the various postures that can be used, I felt he glossed over the reasons why meditation has to be done sitting versus lying down. Minor quibbles, but only more obvious because the rest of the book is so meticulous.
If you are planning on teaching yoga, if you already have a yoga practice or if you're not quite convinced that yoga can do anything for your body, pick up this book.
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on April 10, 2002
As hatha yoga approaches the "Granola Standard" of public acceptance -- it's not just for aging hippies and health nuts anymore --there's a growing need for foundational work in the anatomic and physiological effects of the discipline. It may still be a while before our leading medical schools issue texts examining yoga in detail, so former anatomy professor and dedicated yogi H. David Coulter, Ph.D. has done them a favor (and they, along with every HMO, hospital, and preventive-care clinic in the country should order copies now). In this exhaustive guide to the ups, downs, twists and turns of most fundamental asanas (and a few advanced ones), Coulter tells you a lot more than your recently certified yoga teacher may know about exactly what's going on with your body during the yogic experience. (Yoga teachers, you should order now too!) And the author has the seasoning to issue knowledgeable warnings about the fact that, poorly practiced, yoga can certainly be bad for you: "Cultivate a frolicsome enthusiasm in the morning to counter stiffness, and cautiousness in the evening to avoid hurting yourself. And at any time, if you start feeling uncommonly strong, flexible, and frisky, be careful. That's when it?s easy to go too far."
In these days when most books are more cheaply made than ever, it's nice to see a volume like this that's built to last; the glossy text paper gives the book the physical heft and authority to match the value of the content. The pricetag is what you're used to seeing on the latest computer books, but when you consider that this tome will be timely for years instead of months, it's a real bargain. -- P.MILLER for the FEARLESS REVIEWS
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on March 12, 2003
This could serve as a text book in the future if Yoga is taught at an University. Very, very technical; not at all light reading but if you have some inclination to know how Yoga asanas affect the physical body, this is a great book. By any stretch of motivation, you can't read all of it in one go; it is best a reference when you want more information teaching a specific asana.
The reading is well oraganized into different categories of the postures; an in depth reading on the anatomy of breathing is the best part. For e.g., it is great to related to students what is the effect of Yogic breathing compared to the 'normal' breathing - Mr. Coutler explains how much more oxygen is retained, how much more CO2 is expelled and how much more alveoli ventilation is achieved.
All in all, it is a must for the Yoga teacher though I wish it were simpler.
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on January 8, 2003
I first saw this book after a yoga class, in the bookstore of Piedmont Yoga Studio. As I flipped through the pages... great paper stock[!]...I became totally intrigued by the science of what I generally considered to be a spiritual practice.
It isn't easy reading, but if you really want to know the "bones" about why yoga is so beneficial, then this IS your book![.]
The author does a fabulous job of explaining just about everything you will ever need to know about muscle groups and what groups are affected in the practice of yoga.
I have many other books and I use them frequently in my practice, but this is one everyone, who takes yoga seriously should have.
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on March 18, 2003
As a yoga student of less than two years, i have found this book to be invaluable. While very dense, easier to read as a reference than a novel, it contains rich details about the entire body's anatomy as it relates to yoga. You learn what muscles are used in countless poses, and how to deepen your practice to invigorate deeper tissues through more knowledgeable yoga. It also dwells on breathing and meditation.
It's a bit expensive, so you should be a committed yogi or yogini of any level before you spend the money. Keep it handy, read a bit here and there as you grow your own practice, and you will find yourself becoming more aware of your amazing body.
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