The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga

The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga

  • ISBN13: 9780517884317
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Since 1960, more than 1 million people have used this classic guide to tap the incredible power of yoga. The attractive new edition, in a new size, will appeal to a wide audience of contemporary yoga students.

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Comments

  1. Dennis Littrell says:
    75 of 76 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    One of the best popular books on yoga, September 14, 2001
    By 
    Dennis Littrell (SoCal) –
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    This review is from: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (Paperback)

    This book was my first yoga book; as such it is close to my heart. I read it (in another edition) in 1974 and used it as a guide to my practice for many years thereafter. It is not, of course, “complete.” No “complete book of” ever is. That is a publisher’s fiction. It is however, very thorough in presenting the yoga of Patanjali and the classical Hatha Yoga Pradipika to the English speaking reader. Much of the book is devoted to asana, highlighted by 146 photos of demonstration by an unidentified young man, who is as good as, if not better than (if that is possible), the accomplished and illustrious B. K. S. Iyengar in showing the sort of suppleness and precision that can achieved. The photos really are extraordinary. There is an excellent and lengthy chapter on pranayama and several on the philosophy and spiritual aspects of yoga. Consequently this goes beyond hatha yoga and becomes a treatise on raja yoga, the so-called “king’s yoga” or “ashtanga yoga,” or “eight-limbed” yoga–the yoga codified and outlined by Patanjali about eighteen hundred years ago. Raja yoga, which is a continuation of hatha yoga, is to be distinguished from the three other yogas of the ancients, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga, respectively the yogas of selfless action, devotion, and knowledge. (There is also tantric yoga, the so-called “left-handed path,” the beginnings of which are lost in antiquity. Following the example of the Bhagavad Gita, tantric yoga is not mentioned in this book.) Raja yoga is sometimes called “the science of mental control,” as it is here on page 220.

    There are many experts on asana; and there are many academics whose knowledge of yoga and yoga culture is extensive. But there are few public teachers of yoga who have mastered all aspects of yoga and can be said to be truly accomplished. Vishnu-devananda is one of them, that is clear from this book. B. K. S. Iyengar is another. I have read nearly a hundred books on yoga in English, and I would not be able to identify more than a handful of other authors as “siddhas,” or “accomplished ones.” Usually, a yogi who realizes samadhi ceases to be a public person. It is only the few–perhaps taking their inspiration from the Buddha, who returned from bliss to instruct humankind–that actually take the trouble to write books. I believe that Vishnu-devananda may be one of them. Certainly the knowledge and wisdom emanating from these pages suggests as much. Incidentally, “Vishnu” is one of the deities of Hinduism (“the Preserver”); a “deva” is a personal divine (such as Krishna, a manifestation of Vishnu); and “ananda” is bliss itself.

    Yoga, fully realized, is a mystical and religious practice–be sure and understand that it is a practice: mere knowledge will not be efficacious. Its ultimate purpose is the realization of the Absolute, or to be joined with the Ineffable, or to live continually in the state of samadhi (three ways of saying what is essentially the same thing). Nonetheless, physical health and well-being can be gotten along the way (indeed they are prerequisites to samadhi), and sufficient in themselves as reasons for taking up the practice.

    One of the auxiliary strengths of this book is in its presentation of the Vedic and Hindu viewpoint through the study and practice of yoga. Swami Vishnu-devananda reveals himself here as an accomplished jnana yogi as well as a master of raja yoga. While I do not agree with everything written here, and could easily point to some exaggerations (hyperbole, of course, is part of the tradition of yogic literature, fulfilling an “intentional” purpose) as well as to some ideas that are perhaps more central to Hinduism than to yoga itself, I nonetheless believe that what Vishnu-devananda writes is wise and measured and worth careful study. I don’t think one can really understand yoga or appreciate its place in our world without not only a long practice but also a concomitant study of its origins and historical development in the Hindu, Buddhist, Tantric, Jainist and other traditions. This book is an excellent beginning.

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  2. Robert Hunter says:
    15 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Strong Points, January 8, 2001
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    This review is from: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (Paperback)

    In my opinion, each good yoga text has something of its own to aid the student. Though Iyengar’s books are tops for asanas and clear exposition, Vishnudevananda’s book is particularly useful and complete on the subject of yogic hygiene and nauli kriya, the abdominal exercises, offering good photographs which clarify what text can only somewhat describe.

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  3. James says:
    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This is a great book., May 3, 2005
    By 
    James (st louis, mo) –

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    This review is from: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (Paperback)

    As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, no book can contain every point on yoga.
    I have been using this large book as an aide to my practice for five years.
    For me it has been a wonderful guide. The many poses or asanas are wonderfully photographed, and the lessons section sets out various practice routines and time tables that are appropriate for every ability level.
    There is full section on the philosophy behind this yoga and its history, all of which is stated in a very clear and practical way.
    It is difficult to be all things to all people, but I think that this book does a good job at coming close!
    Enjoy.

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