Mark Ansari, Liz Lark book:
Yoga for Beginners
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Review by Kenneth Robinson from New England
I reviewed many yoga books before selecting this one. For starters, the binding is cleverly designed to allow you to keep it near your mat for a quick review of the posture.
The photos and descriptions of the postures are exceptionally clear. Variations on the postures are noted for those who have limited flexibility. The program of postures is well thought out and is excellent for beginners, and is rigorous enough for those who are serious about their practice.
One minor quibble--it would have been useful if the book contained information about the use of yoga props, such as straps, blocks and bolsters.
While yoga classes are great for learning different styles of yoga, and getting needed corrections and suggestions, I find this book to be the single best investment I have made in my yoga practice. Though I also use various yoga videos, this book is far superior to any of them.
Review by A reader from Boston, MA USA
I give this book 4 stars for its organization, simplicity, and attention to the needs of true beginners; I give it 3 stars for its yoga program.
This book's strength is that it is really intended for beginners. The layout of the book is easy to follow, and the focus is on the exercises, which are divided into two routines of different levels and which are actually doable. (No twisting legs behind heads here.) These routines take about 45 minutes from warm ups to relaxation if done at a brisk pace or about 1 hour if done with more resting in between asanas. The authors also give a basic and brief introduction to other aspects of the yogi life.
I am using this book as a complement to my introductory yoga class to improve my flexibility and strength to a point where I can begin a more intermediate level of yoga. The book works fairly well for that purpose, allowing me to focus on developing strength and improving flexibility in key areas for key poses. I would definitely recommend either taking a yoga class for a couple of weeks or working with someone who is more advanced in their yoga practice to see the poses in action, get feedback on posture, and hear other interpretations of the poses.
This leads me to what I feel are the book's weaknesses. The poses are adequately, even well, explained and photographed, but I find that the authors do not do as good of a job explaining how to come out of the asanas the safest way possible. (They do hint at this, but here a more experienced yoga person could help.) I find that my lower back is often stiff following workouts unless I switch the order of the last few poses, and I have to expand the warm ups and bring in cool down stretches from my class in order to prevent injury better.
Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to someone looking to get into yoga. I think that seniors especially may find this approach to yoga helpful, particularly with the recommended modifications. (Even less intimidating than this book is Yoga for Wimps, which modifies most, if not all, of the asanas; however, that book does not intend to prepare its followers to pursue more advanced levels of yoga. In contrast, Yoga for Beginners allows users to keep to its program or work towards a more difficult method.)