Downward Dogs and Warriors

I am having a lot of fun with the book - Downward Dogs and Warriors: Wisdom Tales for Modern Yogis - by Zo Newell.

It is an unusual book because it invites the reader to enter deeply into the experience of the asanas - physically and emotionally - but from the context of the mythological tales that gave rise to the poses.

Unfortunately, just a small selection of poses are explored. The book left me wanting so much more! But this small tome is exquisite - the writing is delicious - and the insights I derived from reading just a few sections - was nothing short of astounding.

All of the poses are told from the perspective of a particular story about Shiva - who is - after all - the Lord of all Yogis, for it was he that created the discipline of yoga.

The book is not only a font of information - but very therapeutic in its essence. As the author notes in the preface:

"This is a book about using asana and related images for reflection, self-examination, and healing. I discuss the use of asana, mythology, and culturally resonant imagery as tools for deepening your yoga practice through observation of your body, your mind, and your emotions...

Use this book in your personal practice, choosing a story, an asana, or an image to work with for the day, the weekend, or the week. Read the story. Practice the pose. Contemplate the image. Let them sink in and become part of you."

I feel this book is destined to become a classic. It also contains beautiful, full colored illustrations.

I'll share a couple of other paragraphs from the Preface and Introduction that shed more light on what this book is about:

"We all know the yoga maxim, 'As on the mat, so in life.' If we are persistent, our asana practice can reveal not only which joints or muscles are in need of strengthening or realignment but also where we are impatient, lazy, unkind; and let's hope, also where we are patient, dedicated, forgiving...

If you have a yoga practice, you will have noticed that it involves your whole being... ...What you do on your mat carries over into your life...

Your practice is like a mirror of your life.

Are you straining and forcing your way through your practice? You're probably doing that in some other areas.

Can you figure out through your practice how to be a little more compassionate with your own shortcomings, your tight hamstrings...?

Do you find it hard to find time to practice? Ha! Could you possibly be neglecting your health or spiritual well-being in other ways?

Yoga is ultimately about relationship: the relationship of spirit and matter, body and soul, intention and action, teacher and student. You are both teacher and student, in relation to yourself as well as to others..."

I know I will be reading and re-reading this book!


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