As a journalist and Iyengar Yoga Teacher who uses yoga for people with back problems, I was excited to see this new book by a physician and someone who claims to have studied with BKS Iyengar. The reality was a disappointment for a number of reasons.
Where to start? His choice of poses, is in my opinion far too challenging for the average person coming to this book - and possibly yoga for the first time - looking for an answer to back pain. The second pose offered for idiopathic (no obvious cause) back pain is Janu Sirsasana, a seated forward bend. He rightly insructs students to keep their back straight and bend from the hip crease. However the vast majority of students will bend at the mid back because of tight hamstrings and lack of body awareness - likely making their back ache worse. This danger will be enhanced because the author does not suggest putting height under the hips, a standard instruction to help students perform seated forward bends correctly. The next pose, Paschimottanasana, another seated forward bend, is even more intense. Here he does suggest holding a strap to help reach the feet for the modified version, but why not in Janu Sirsana? Still no blanket or other height under the hips. He then offers the full version of the same forward bend with one hand grasping the wrist of the other hand around the end of the feet. This is available to about two per cent of the population I would estimate, and would likely exacerbate the back condition of many unsuspecting people opening this book to yoga for the first time and not recognizing their own limitations. While gentle twisting is recommended for back pain by Iyengar, no twisting poses appear in this chapter or many others. He gives a chapter over to weight control and another to pregnancy, but I could find no reference to scoliosis. As there was no index I could possibly be mistaken.
The pictures themselves are poor and underexposed. They have no caption, which means the reader is left to figure out which picture refers to which description.
The beginning of the book gives a lot of space to describing different styles of yoga, including a number, like Ashtanga and Bickram which the author, then says may not be appropriate for people with back pain. However he still offers an address for Ashtanga Yoga among the resources at the end of the book, but no guidance on finding an Iyengar teacher - the style he professes to use, and whose teachers are often highly trained in therapeutic yoga.
The suggested reading includes BKS Iyengar's classic Light on Yoga, which, although brilliant, would be next to useless for most people seeking help with back pain. However, he fails to include Iyengar's other book, Yoga: the Path to Holistic Health, which includes many therapeutic poses and three routines for lower, mid and upper back pain.
I would strongly recommend instead: Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief by Mary Pullig Schatz, a book actually endorsed by BKS Iyengar, which introduces us to many very modified and safe poses, and which makes this new volume, in my opinion, largely redundant.