Published by: Westland Ltd
Price: INR 250
Straight from the heart
For those of you who’ve read yoga guru Shameem Akhtar’s articles or blog posts, you will be well acquainted with her clear cut, no nonsense writing style. She writes from the heart with no pretence. In her latest book, you get generous doses of the same. The book is co-authored with Prahlada Reddy, an accomplished yoga trainer in his own right. Both belong to the Sivananda school of yoga. In fact, Prahlada is a direct disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda, the founder of Sivananda School of Yoga and he currently heads the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Toronto.
Though the cover states that this book has ‘tips and techniques for everyone’ [which it does], I think that more than practitioners, it’s the yoga teachers who will devour the book. But I am not complaining, because there are plenty of books out there for practitioners but few good ones that are meant for teachers, written by Indian teachers.
The book primarily focusses on the physical aspects of yoga, namely asana and pranayama, though it conveys the emotional and psychic benefits of poses.
The asana section explains basic and intermediary poses in depth, with the help of black and white pictures for each asana. Each asana description includes tips on making finer corrections once you are in the pose. It also features the instructor’s role in detail. Finally, there’s a chapter on pranayamas and of course one on everyone’s favourite: the Suryanamaskar!
Teaching yoga is great fun but it’s in no way easy. You really need to know what you’re doing and there are joys and challenges that come packaged with every student. This is where the book scores. It has separate sections devoted to class management, structuring of sessions, how to conduct a one-to-one session and more. The final chapter of the book is on time management and making time for your own personal practice. Now, this is something that all yoga teachers struggle with, at some time in their career. Making time for your own sadhana is something that can slowly slip down the list of priorities, as you get busier in your teaching. Well, when it comes to personal practice, there is only one rule—keep a fixed time and just get on the mat. It’s obvious that the authors assign great importance to the teachers’ own practice because they have included a separate chapter only to underline this.
As a yoga teacher, rest assured that you’ll have plenty of aha! moments, especially when the authors get down to the basics of teaching and the real issues that yoga teachers face in class. For instance, you want to teach authentic yoga but if you don’t make the students sweat it out, many of them don’t feel like they’re really gaining much. Or how should you deal students who have preconceived ideas about what yoga is and what it can do for them. If for some reason you don’t match the expectations of such students, they lose interest in learning or hop on to the next yoga class around the corner. How then, should a yoga teacher walk the tight rope of staying faithful to the art of teaching yoga while giving a student what he or she expects?
This is a bold book that delves into many hitherto unspoken facets of yoga teaching. The fact that it is coming from two of the most experienced and respected teachers from the yoga fraternity makes it a lighthouse to guide you, as a sadhaka as well as a teacher of yoga.