The Science of Yoga: Book Review

the-science-of-yoga This book cover promised promises to scientifically examine the risks and rewards of

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practicing yoga. This interpretation is misleading, however. I was hoping for clarity on how certain poses or techniques are beneficial or risky – a true scientific examination of yoga that could be directly applied to my practice. William Broad instead examines the history of the science of yoga in an almost chronological fashion, organized in vaguely entitled chapters like health, fit perfection, risk of injury, and healing. The author views the science of yoga as a disjointed field that is reaching a critical evolutionary point, and this perspective is apparent throughout the muddle of the book. Furthermore, the rambling prologue and overzealous epilogue politicize the subject and throw the author’s credibility into question. Although this book did not meet my expectations, it does cite several sources for scientific research on yoga worth examining further. It also is a fascinating, and therefore relatively quick, read. In my own practice, which barely spans two years, I have experienced many of the benefits of yoga that are touched on throughout the book. Fortunately, the risks of certain poses were brought to my attention more than a year ago. My awareness benefitted from reading this article highlighting the risks of yoga [1], a quick article adaptation from The Science of Yoga that highlights the same risks with the same stories. The author’s connections with the New York Times and publicity must immeasurably contribute to the popularity of his novel, despite its failure to actually explain the science of yoga.

The Real Skinny: Book review

If you want to identify exactly when and why your bad health habits creep up, and how you can work through them, then The Real Skinny is written for you.  It’s not just a weight-loss solution, but also offers a strategy to work through your deeply rooted personal issues to develop sustainable healthy habits.

the real skinny

As promised on its cover, The Real Skinny directly addresses 101 unhealthy habits, and provides immediate strategies or solutions to develop healthy habits in their place. It addresses many of the dietary and fitness problems I faced a few years ago.

The book starts out addressing many of the excuses that I used give for being overweight. For example, it discusses blaming your metabolism and genetics for excess weight. Fat habit #2 is: I have such a slow metabolism. I hardly eat anything but just can’t lose weight. The book explains how people who have excess fat actually have a faster metabolism because their body needs more energy to sustain itself. This is something I didn’t figure out until I watched The Weight of the Nation documentary series last year.

Amongst the myriad of tips and tricks, the book also addresses important issues that people with much more serious health problems, such as depression or diabetes, must work through. In addition to helping identify and avoid unhealthy habits, the book provides a meal plan for weight loss, and lots of yummy-looking recipes in the back.

This book would have been a great place for me to start developing healthy habits years ago. Three years ago, I blindly began scrutinizing my lifestyle with minimal knowledge and many misconceptions about what was healthy. The Real Skinny provides a solid strategy and knowledge base that anyone can use to begin developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body: Book review

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If you are frustrated whenever you get in the pool to swim laps because it doesn’t feel like you’re getting far or improving, this is a great book to read and apply. It’s particularly great if you want to swim but have never enjoyed it, or enjoy it but are frustrated by your performance. Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body is all about working with water to balance and propel yourself forward calmly and efficiently.

I took swimming in college because it was offered and I wasn’t going to have to pay extra for it. I didn’t need the credits, but I wanted to get in the habit of going to the pool twice a week. I didn’t read the course description upon registration, and was surprised when we were required to buy this book as part of the class. Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body is a guide to “swimming better than you ever imagined.” This is the promise on the cover and I thought it was cheesy – it turned out to be true.

That swim class taught me more about balance and focus than any other class I had to take in college. The lessons I learned based on its principals did not just apply to time spent in the pool, but throughout my life to this day. It deepened my meditation practice, and showed me how to prioritize things logically, otherwise I would drown.

On my way to the final for this swim class I was delayed due to traffic. This combined with the very little sleep I had been getting throughout finals week, and I began to hyperventilate as I walked from the parking lot to the pool. The stress was too much for my body and I was forced to sit down and calm my mind. I had just been reading this book and thinking about the fundamentals of balance and patience, and continuous improvement; Remembering how far I had come that semester, and that even if I did fail that final it was due to circumstances beyond my control, I could continue on into the gym and keep on swimming.

This book shows you how to learn four basic strokes on your own: breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. The author, Terry Laughlin, engagingly shares how he has been continuously improving his swim practice well into middle age and beyond. He also has a series of instructional videos and has written other books about total immersion, which is the key to underwater efficiency and is appropriately the name of his company.

totalimmersion