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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yoga for Wellness

Kraftsow, Gary. Yoga for Wellness.

Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, teaches in the lineage of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar and is well-known in the world of yoga.

An overview with points I like or consider important:

Part I Yoga: A Developmental Approach

Chapter 1: Principles of Practice

- in discussing the form/function problem concerning the relationship between classical form and practical function of postures: "The true value of these postures lies in their functional benefit to our own body, not [emphasis mine] in the objective character of their classical form."

- a great section on why we adapt postures and various explanations and photos that illustrate adaptations

-methods of adapting the breath to "deepen the practice and produce different effects."

- information about using sound and props and on sequencing.

Chapter 2: Biomechanics of Movement

- the primary and secondary intentions of movements

- postures are discussed and there are plenty of photos that illustrate problems in postures, as well as info on common risks and sequencing

Part II Yoga Cikitsa: An Introduction to Yoga Therapy

- The orientation of tradional medicine is "to treat the disease; the Yoga orientation is to treat the person. In Yoga therapy, therefore, we are first and foremost seeking to change attitudes and actions tha inhibit the natural healing process."

- "Viyoga literally means separation. In the context of Yoga therapy, Viyoga refers to the process of separating ourselves from whatever is undesirable in our lives." It is a process of elimation and "includes letting go of unhealthy attachments, giving up self-destructive behavior, and breaking detrimental relationships."

-"Samyoga literally means linking together. In the context of Yoga therapy, Samyoga refers to the process of linking to whatever is positive and productive in our lives. It involves the development of mental qualities such as kindness, courage, patience, and compassion. It also involves establishing appropriate priorities, practicing virtues, and cultivating positive relationships."

- "Our health problems may be related to congenital factors; patterns acquired in early childhood; the result of an accident, an unhealthy lifestyle, chronic stress; or any combination of these or other factors."

The 3 chapters in Part II, deal with Common Aches and Pains, Chronic Disease, and Emotional Health. Kraftsow frequently points out that in many situations, the practitioner will need to see a doctor in order to combine the benefits of traditional medicine and Yoga. The chapters cover in some detail the various systems of the body (skeletal, muscular, digestive, respiratory, etc.) and various asana sequences developed to deal with specific problems.

This is another book that is informative on many levels. Kraftsow is thorough and the book is full of practical knowledge and inspiration. Another great reference!

Nonfiction. Yoga. 1999. 328 pages.


  1. Another excellent review on yoga books! I think I need to get this or the other one you recently mentioned and start learning more about yoga! I can only imagine that this would help my practice.

  2. iliana - I loved all the books that were on my reading list and still have several more that I'm in the process of reviewing. One that was not on my list, but that I eventually want to purchase is Light on Yoga.

    My library didn't have any of them, but you might check your library. It would be nice to look through them before deciding on a purchase.

    Where do you take your yoga classes?

  3. Great review! I first learned yoga in college, but I still use it today as part of my fitness and wellness program for my fibromyalgia. I do work with my physicians to try to create the best routines and I have read up a lot on it. But it always serves to read more! Thanks!

  4. Rebecca - Good idea to work with your physicians on what sequences would be best for you! It is nice to know that some doctors are being more open in their approach!