Many people come to yoga from the perspective of health improvement. I am one of them. The path to yoga is often difficult in this case. You don't feel well, and those who instruct you are usually not yoga teachers. You get just a little dab to help you relax before meditating or as a supplement to an improved diet. Without knowing more, you do not know if you want to take on a lot of yoga. Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health is perfect for such health seekers. You will learn what asanas (poses or postures) can be used for what ailments, and the illustrations will help you use these asanas without an instructor.
I wish I had seen this book before having surgery recently. I did not know that there were asanas for improving my condition, and I might have avoided a procedure that has caused me much discomfort and inconvenience.
This book is a beginner's work, aimed at those who know almost nothing about yoga. As such, it is perfect for those who want to try some yoga to see what the health benefits might be. In my case, my brief exposure to yoga during meditation training led me to be interested in doing more. I found, though, that some asanas seemed to be hurting me. I was doing something wrong, but had no way to correct myself. Now, with this volume, I can see how to self-correct my practice. I also found asanas for what I want to accomplish that are easier on my middle-aged physique.
The illustrations give you the asana from 360 degrees, which is very helpful. He uses a range of models, so you will see both women and men performing the asanas. You are also told how to do them as a beginner. Each asana contains a caution section about who and when you should avoid this position. Mr. Iyengar also provides dynamic advice for how to move your body that gives you the essence of the asana in a way that mere illustrations could not. That advice focuses your attention on the way that the posture is being conducted in ways that I would have otherwise missed.
The book starts with a brief introduction to yoga and its benefits. The philosophy is then briefly outlined. Basic asanas are then described in sections based on whether you do them by standing, sitting, forward bends, twists, inversions, back bends or while reclining.
For people who live in Western countries, there is an extensive chapter on using yoga to relieve stress with lots of asanas. Many of these include props. I had not been introduced to props before, and liked what I saw.
To me, the core of the book was the section on which asanas to do for ailments. Your symptoms are the organizational structure. So if you have had asthma, for example, you go to the respiratory system section and look up the asanas that help. You then go to the front of the book (using the page references) to see how to do these asanas. From this, you can build your own program of self-healing. I recommend meditation as a supplement.
Finally, Mr. Iyengar provides a 20 week yoga course for those who want to begin yoga with a basic program. This looked like too much for me, but I will start it on my next vacation and see how it goes.
After you have used this book as a beginner for a few weeks, you will probably benefit from having an instructor check out your asanas once in a while. You are probably making small errors that are hard for you to self-correct.
The benefits of asanas come from relaxing the body and connecting the mind and body. You can also do this with your thoughts as the starting point. I suggest that you also select thoughts that you can use during the day to relax and create finer integration.
Ease into more positive positions, in order to flow with the natural river of improvement!