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This book claims that the practice of yoga, a 5,000 year old system of practice and contemplation, is as relevant today as it was when first developed. We are told in the introduction that "Yoga heals emotions ... by encouraging an emotional intelligence that helps with facing pain, sorrow, suffering, and loss. Yoga is truly transformative on every level." The idea is that one can have a transformative experience by a combination of exercises for the body and the mind. Anyone who has experienced, e.g., the runners' high, will attest to the reality of the feeling.
This experience of deep awareness of inner peace we are told comes about as a result of cultivating a discipline for both body and mind to awaken the keys to inner bliss by accessing your five koshas, or layers of energy: physicality, energy, meditation, awareness and profound inner peace. The successful practitioner may be able to experience "true essence" or ATMAN.
We are reminded, "It's easy to forget your true self as you get caught up in day-to-day life. In ancient India, many yoga masters encouraged their devotees to leave common life for an existence of meditation and contemplation." Although in the Western world that is difficult today by following the blueprint presented by Morissette the modern practitioner may be able to get closer to inner bliss by following the recipes presented herein.
Our journey to inner bliss begins with a five minute candle gaze. This exercise is to calm the nervous system and cleanse the eyes - to allow the practitioner to focus on one item with an unblinking stare. The next three minutes are devoted to the "Nasal Cleanse". This procedure entails gently flowing lightly salted water through the nostrils which will "help curb allergies and sinus problems." If you want you can order a jala neti pot online or at your local new age store and use it with sea salt and warm water.
Breathing exercises are next. Four minutes of "uplifting breath" is to be followed by eight minutes of "calming breath". These exercises are to cleanse the nervous system and lessen mental tension. After completing these preliminary exercises the subject is ready to begin the basic posture sequences as described in the book.
Most of the book is devoted to photographs of the many different physical/spiritual exercises including, seated, supine, bending (forward and backward), twisting, balancing, standing, and inverted. Each is presented with clear instructions and ample pictures (so that presumably one can say "how did he do that?")
The vocabulary of karma and koshas and inner bliss is odd for the Western skeptic, but is not, I think, necessary for employing the positions and reaping the benefits of concentration, focus, and stretching of the muscles. Anything that will get us off the sofa has to be good!
© 2010 Bob Lane
Bob Lane is an Honorary Research Associate in Philosophy and Literature at Vancouver Island University in British Columbia.