January 2019: Yoga for Mental Health. Editors: Heather Mason and Kelly Birch. This book provides an invaluable source of reference on aspects relating to yoga and mental health and wellbeing. It contains diagrams, references and explanations by people who have dedicated much of their lives to these fields of interest. I'm sure this will become a 'must have' for yoga teachers far and wide. As a Signatory of the Scottish Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Wellbeing it is positive to see a comprehensive text on this important subject.
December 2018: ABC Mindful Me by Christiane Engel. A beautifully illustrated and easy to grasp book about simple ways to promote mindfulness aimed at children and equally a delight to grown ups. For example, 'Inspire: Get inspired by nature! Find some leaves, a stick, or two - You'll be surprised at what you can do!'
November 2018: Your body speaks your mind by Deb Shapiro. Yoga is often talked about as a way to connect your mind, body and spirit. This intriguing book takes it further it proposes our ailments and injuries can be linked to certain emotions and where our mind is at. It's an interesting read, can be a little blunt and direct at times but I find myself repeatedly drawn back to it and have found it helpful. I've found myself renewing it so many times from the library i've finally bought my own copy! See what you make of it.
October 2018: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation by Alistair Shearer. As yoga students we often taught, learn and build on the framework of Yoga through Patanjali's Yoga Sutras or 8 limb path. This small, concise and insightful translation of the sutras offers a useful reference guide and the Intro is as valuable as the sutras themselves. "Yoga Sutra 2: Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence."
September 2018: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. This is one of those gems of a brief but significant book where you can dip into it and find life guidance with depth. Gibran is considered to be the 3rd most widely read poet in history after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. From the chapter: Self Knowledge, 'Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather "I have found a truth". Say not, "I have found the path of my soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking on my path."
August 2018: How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach. Enjoy learning through this lovely, simple tale told by a gifted writer and Master of Buddhism. Includes some wonderful lines you'll want to keep with you. One of my favourites: When you are trying to concentrate on solving a problem at work you will find that the habit of focusing and fixing your mind during the [yoga] poses carries over to every part of your day, with wonderful results. Because people who can really focus are just better at whatever they do they succeed more, and they have more fun doing it.
July 2018: We are Buddhists by Philip Blake. When time can feel squeezed and you have a real urge to know more about something - finding a children's book about it can be a great way in. Typically, easy to read, offers the basic facts and presented in an easy to digest chunks of information. This book about Buddhism is a great example!
June 2018: How the hell did I get here? by Pamela Lynch. Yoga like life, can be a struggle, a journey, an opening into something new. It's not everyday you get to meet and know the author of a book. Pam came to one of our Scottish Wellbeing Retreats, travelling from Australia. Her story is one of change, tenacity and hope. And if you love mountains you'll enjoy the tale of her journey into the Himalaya.
May 2018: No Matter What by Debi Gliori. Often the best thoughts/advice come in simple phrases or words. Sometimes we find these in books for children. This is a wonderful example of this, for all ages. 'Small said, "But what about when we're dead and gone, would you love me then, does love go on?'...'Small, look at the stars - how they shine and glow, but some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies. Love, like starlight, never dies.'
April 2018: The Goddess Guide to Chakra Vitality by Anita Revel. Came across this bright, fun and informative book about our chakra energy centres. What I like about it is brings in other elements including gem stones, essential oils and goddesses in a really readable format. Very accessible book if you want to know more about chakras.
March 2018: Prana and Pranayama by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. They say it always come back to the breath with yoga. If you want to go deeper into the theory and power of the breath, this book is a great vehicle to help take you there. Covering in 3 parts; the theory of prana (life force), respiratory physiology and guidelines for practicing pranayama (working with breathing techniques). From the Bihar School of Yoga.
February 2018: Yoga body, anatomy, kinesiology and asana by Judith Hanson Lasater. Keen to refresh and build my knowledge and application of anatomy to yoga sessions, this book is leading the way in. My highlighter pens are getting a good workout! Informative and relevant.
January 2018: Kilted Yoga by Finlay Wilson. We've mostly all seen the kilted yoga video that went viral and I was curious to read more about his story. This book gives the reader a mix of insight into Finlay, Forrest based yoga practices, the great Scottish countryside and some amazing yoga postures bodies can move into.
December 2017: Mudras for modern life by Swami Saradananda. Mudras or hand gestures are said to tap into our nadi's, our lines of subtle energy that run through our body. Mudras can help enrich your yoga practice and overall wellbeing. This book is steeped in information presented with colour, diagrams and more. I love it! Mudras in this book are categorised by the 5 elements of Indian philosophy; fire, air, ether, earth and water mudras along with mind focussed mudras.
November 2017: Cave in the Snow by Vicki MacKenzie. I recently started re-reading this amazing story published in 1998 after talking to someone about a silent retreat. The story tells of a young English woman from London who went to India to become the 2nd Western nun in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo as she's now known is now over 70 and continues to inspire. This story recounts her 12 year silent meditation in a remote Himalayan cave and quest for enlightenment. Compelling reading!
October 2017: Heart Thoughts, A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay. The first book I reviewed back in June 2015 was by Louise Hay. I recently came across her beautifully illustrated more recent book which was brought about for "those times when you are 'in between' the old and the new, using the meditations and treatments on a daily basis until you build your confidence in your capability to make changes." Enjoy.
September 2017: The Bhagavad Gita. Often considered one of the 'source' books on Yoga. The yogic way told within a story on a battle field as part of a larger piece of literature, the Mahabharata. The Penguin edition includes great notes and translations of the messages within. Many people quote from the Gita, perhaps its your time to read the full version whether for the first time or revisiting its wisdom? "Devote yourself to the discipline of yoga, for yoga is skill in action."
August 2017: Fierce Medicine by Ana T. Forrest. Thought I'd read Ana's biography ahead of her visit to Dundee later this month to run some workshops. I've followed her yoga on and off for a long time. I'm about quarter the way through and I'm riveted by her frankness, her story, her yoga teachings. 'Certain Yoga poses help access, process, and release fear. Inversions - upside down poses, for example are particularly useful. When people get into a pose and tell me, "Im afraid of this", I say "Awesome. Now I get to work with you in a safe way." I call it fearasana.' It's a fierce read!
July 2017: 100 simple things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's & age-related memory loss by Jean Carper. The importance of mental health is frequently talked about. I was curious to see what this book would offer and am amazed by all the new information I've discovered like, "the state of your health in..your forties and fifties - appears to foreshadow the health of your brain in your seventies and eighties." And of course its great to read in several sections the positive impact yoga can have.
June 2017: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen & David Oliver. This dramatic and competing true life story originally published in 2006 has stayed with me through the years. It's a great demonstration of Karma Yoga - giving back, helping others without looking for anything in return. Despite several accusations in recent years of the events portrayed it remains an engaging read. It describes Mortenson's transition from a registered nurse and mountain-climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and elevating education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
May 2017: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Nidra, the state of dynamic sleep is a powerful technique in which you learn to relax consciously. It can feel unusual, deep and different. This book gives you deeper insight and knowledge into Yoga Nidra which may be of interest to read alongside your own experience of the practice during yoga classes/workshops.
April 2017: GUT by Guilia Enders. Yoga is about making connections and this book is all about insights, facts and making connections to what happens in our lives (physically, mentally & other) through our gut and our relationship with it. Just fascinating!
March 2017: Curvy Yoga. Love yourself & your body a little more each day by Anna Guest-Jelley. The start of this book says it all "This book is for anyone who ever had a negative thought about his or her body and wondered, even just for a second, if there could be another way." This book provides a lovely guided and motivational reference for people of all body shapes and sizes to find a way of practising yoga in a physical sense. Also includes helpful pictures and uplifting sayings.
February 2017: Mindfulness on the Go:Peace in your pocket by Padraig O'Morain. "Think of mindfulness as returning. It's as simple - and as difficult - as that. Mindfulness is about returning your attention again and again to whatever is going on for you right now.." A crisp, easy read with great ideas. Breathe in the pages of this book and breathe out a better way to be mindful. Check out the Point of Peace practice on page 47 too.
January 2017: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Sometimes you find meaningful insights that follow the yogic path in unexpected places. Published 20 years ago and yet timeless. "Mitch it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties. I had my time..and now is my time to be seventy-eight..the truth is part of me is every age...." A perfect read for bringing in the new year, freshen your perspective and honouring those that have passed on. This is a book to come back to and read again.
December 2016: Be True to Yourself. A Helen Exley Gift Book. This less than 2.5 inches high book sits underneath my MAC and when in need, offers up some wisdom to contemplate. Today it was opened at "Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision" Peter Drucker. This goes out to all the folks I know who continue to inspire me with their courageous decisions. Keep on making them!
November 2016: Oh the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss So, not your typical yoga book however it doesn't come much better than this. A wonderful lyrical tale taking you through the ups and downs, joys and sadness and ultimately the reality of a typical life path...your chosen profession, personal circumstances and your yoga. "Today is your day! Your [yoga] mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!"
September 2016: The Secret Messages Hidden in Words by Kim Ismet. A creative take on offering words of wisdom and encourages the reader to reflect on its meaning. Based around the 7 chakras/energy centres. For example I open a page at random, its in the Vishuddha (throat chakra) section and read: SING = S - soulfulness, I - inviting, N - natures, G - grace. Kim is also a fellow Akhanda Hatha yoga teacher. Book available from Amazon.
August 2016: The Four Noble Truths by Venerable Ajahn Sumedho (Amaravati Publications). Recommended read for anyone who is looking for a straightforward, concise read/ insight into some of the Buddhist principles. "Well-being is just knowing things as they are without feeling the necessity to pass judgement upon them." For an even lighter pictorial overview Buddhism for Sheep by Chris Riddell as featured in Oct 2015 worth a viewing too.
July 2016: Clarity and Calm - for busy people by Ajahn Succitto. (Amaravati Publications). I came across some wonderful Thai buddhist teachings whilst visiting the Amaravati Buddhist monastery in Hertfordshire, England this month. This particular one jumped out, very accessible in terms of its convenient size and bite size, to-the-point suggestions on how to be more present. "..when you're moving around.. experiment with keeping your visual focus relaxed and attuned within a sphere that extends 2 or 3 metres around you..this will enable you to stay present and balanced." They have available free of charge many teachings. To view more: www.forestsanghapublications.org
June 2016: The Lazy Guru's Guide to Life by Laurence Shorter. A book you can read in about 10-15 minutes & give yourself some useful reminders on living life well. Cool illustrations to go with it too. I came across this at my local library (Meadowbank, Polmont).
May 2016: Get some HEADspace 10 minutes can make all the difference by Andy Puddicombe. The reason I wanted to share this book as my recommendation is simple: from reading it over a few years ago 2 things still stick in my mind that helps me when i'm striving towards feeling calmer, in a more meditative mindset. I wonder what you will find in this short but informative read that may help you in achieving a calmer, more fulfilling life? 1) The notion that when you are aiming to be observant of your thoughts, stand back and liken your thoughts to a motoway with lots of traffic moving by, some a different speeds. Avoid chasing one of the cars (thoughts) and just stay on the hard shoulder car (or thought) watching. 2) The analogy of our states of mind or moods being like clouds and that however many greay or black, gloomy clouds are in our vision that beyond is always the constant bright shining sun. Remembering the sun is always there can help us work through the more challenging times when negativity can block our inner wellbeing. Andy P also has a popular mindfulness App and features on some Ted Talks.
April 2016: F**k it, the ultimate spiritual way by John C Parkin. It's taken me a few years since owning this book to feel the benefits of its words, but in a lot of ways it's refreshing & real. For example: (page 132) 'It's time to say f**k it to what people think of you. Approval is like anything else in this life: it can cause pain if it has a lot of meaning for you, if you're attached to it.'
March 2016: Love Your Life by Domonique Bertolucci. This is one of those easy to access and dip into type of books. It's recommended you let the book fall open and read the wisdom. Here's the one I just got, by way of an example: 'Make a Commitment' While there may be many things you need to do or achieve to make a dream for your future a reality, the only thing that really matters is that you commit to fully to making it a reality in your life. No other thought or action will ever be as important as this one. (Another great Xmas pressie thanks Jo Crosse for bringing this book into my life).
February 2016: The Ladybird book of MINDFULNESS. Unwrapping this book at Christmas (thanks Pam P!) took me back to childhood and my grandad Porter reading us many of these hardback A5 size Ladybird books. Funnily enough this concise book of tongue-in-cheek mindfulness quotes uses pictures from that library of fairytale stories. So here's a flavour of what it contains: "Alison has been staring at this beautiful tree for 5 hours. She was meant to be in the office. Tomorrow she will be fired. In this way, mindfulness will have solved her work-related stress."
January 2016: Any Mindfulness Art book /Winter Wonderland Patterns. This months book is a little bit different. Whilst I was deciding what book I wanted to read/share with you I was given very kindly by one of my yoga students (thanks Marie!) a colouring book. Seems to be a growing trend and it was my first time...buy hey open mind. These insights came as I was colouring in....realisation how much I do like stripes of different colours, that whilst there are many ways/strategies to colour in a 'shape' you kind of get to the same place/outcome so I stopped worrying about how I was doing it and that in my rush to get it finished I was maybe missing the point of enjoying the process...
December 2015: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book has been around since 2009, was a big seller in the US and I first read it in March 2011. It's a book where many aspects of it has stayed in my consciousness and that from time to time come to the fore - hence wanting to share with you all. Why this month? Well the book is the story of an American journalist who decides to act on her list of NY resolutions some for each month of a whole calendar year and the book tracks the outcomes, her learnings, insights etc. Being near to that time of NY resolutions perhaps this book may give you just the inspiration you are seeking and longevity to any changes you are thinking of making in the New Year... Here's a couple of lines from the intro..."All these thoughts flooded through my mind, and as I sat on that crowded bus, grasped two things: I wasn't as happy as I could be, and my life wasn't going to change unless I made it change. In that single moment, with that realisation, I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier..."
November 2015: The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown This month's recommendation comes as many of my yoga students are progressing their asana's/postures through their yoga practice with me and I acknowledge that curiosity often has us looking ahead to where postures are going in the physical sense i.e. how much deeper/further do they go. If you see/feel yourself like this then this book is a great, well presented, keeping it simple guide to yoga asanas/postures and with loads of visuals. Plus some useful brief descriptions on the yoga principles and different types of yoga practice. I come back to this useful guide again and again. Remember though however far into a posture you go it's about pushing your boundaries in order to reap the benefits by this I mean even a small step into the start of a deep posture can still have amazing effects if that's where your body is at today. Keep being curious about your journey whilst you take your yoga seriously and your self lightly. 'Yoga is the journey of self, through the self, to the self' From The Bhagavad Gita
October 2015: Buddhism for Sheep by Chris Riddell. If like me the principles of Buddhism attract you but you find it difficult to get more insight into how to embrace it more easily into your life, then try this book out. It's fun, simple and effective. It has me chuckling every time I pick it up and yet also left feeling a little better about what to get out of life..
September 2015: The 50 secrets of Self-Confidence by Richard Nugent. This months book share is about a book I've been delving into to support my preparation for giving an NLP based session on the topic of confidence to an Edinburgh Women's charity (Smart Works) who support women getting back into employment. It's full of insights, tips, common sense and a load of other stuff too on confidence. A useful reference book and reminder. A particular bit that I found interesting (page 152) is where it comments on when people are nervous or put on the spot there is often a physiological response to take a step back and look away. A good alternative response is to consciously when asked a tricky question in any situation (i.e. job interviews!) to make a subtle small movement forwards and if you are sitting down at a desk/table this can be as simple as leaning forward on your elbows and with your eye gaze rotate it in the triangle area between a persons eyes and their mouth. How does this topic link to yoga? Well I'd say that through a regular yoga practice you can help build your confidence for example in pushing through your boundaries in your yoga postures and breathing techniques and finding out more about how your body works and responds in certain postures. By persevering and mastering a tricky posture, you can then take your new found self awareness and confidence off the mat and expand that into every day life events (big, medium or small!).
"Self confidence is the best outfit. Rock it. Own it."
August 2015: The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive I love this book, I've had it for many years its full of interesting and amusing animal pictures, takes 5 mins to go through and can change/lighten your mood/day in an instant.The page/saying that always has me dwelling on (pic attached) is: Live every day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. A great reminder to be in and enjoy the moment
July 2015: Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford & Martina Selway - A toddlers first book of Yoga. My 2 little ones have really taken to this simple fun book of yoga poses which are represented by animals e.g. spread arms out like a butterfly. You may like to give this a go to help calm those sometimes hectic toddlers at night time!
June 2015: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Starting with this book that's been around for quite some time (c.1984) but a good one to re-review. Found it great for positive affirmations. Suggested approach - just let it fall open on a page and start reading some of it! in need for some life review.. you may find this book a good place to get you started...