41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 1999
I owned and used this book for years until I gave it to a group of young people. They were coming to Yoga for the first time and were full of questions, both of a practical and philosophical nature. This book provides clear and comprehensive instructions on how one might perform many of the postures in Hatha Yoga. While there is no substitute for a good Yoga teacher, this book makes for a useful reference guide for home practise. There is so much more to Yoga than the practise of posture and breathing techniques and the Swami succeeds in explaining much of the philosophy without getting bogged down in categorising the indescribable. The suggestions on how to integrate Yoga practise into everyday Western living are most helpful and hopefully show that you need not be a monk to succesfully "work on your self". I am so glad to see this book back in print. I have been looking for a replacement for years since I first gave my copy away.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 1998
I have never found a better book on yoga anywhere. This book is written by a great teacher who came from India. It has a comprehensive set of yoga postures, breathing excercises and meditation. The only flaw in the book is that one should study under a teacher. For those who cannot find a teacher or would rather work alone, I strongly suggest working with inner guides. A good book on this is The Inner Guide Meditation, or a similar book. A teacher is necessary, because contrary to what others may say, yoga and other spiritual excercises do work. They work for anyone who has the time and patience to do the excercises even for a short time. Results may take years to come, but they do come. But given a teacher to see the results through which can be frightening at times, this is an excellent book and I strongly recommend it.
on 19 October 2014
It's been a while since I did yoga and I bought this book intending to take it up again. I was dismayed to find that the book takes one straight into extreme postures with no gradual build up. Because of this, I feel the book is definitely NOT for beginners. or at least, should be used with an experienced teacher to guide them.
On the plus side, it is very good at explaining the theory of yoga.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I bought Swami Vishnudevananda's book while on an eight-day yoga retreat at his Ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas in the early 80s. My intention was to stay only a couple of days to learn yoga. The effects of four hours of yoga and two hours of daily meditation were so stunning I ended up staying eight days. The sky seemed bluer, the trees greener and the fish and coral more vibrant. I was even relaxed while walking among crowds, noise and traffic in Nassau.
The text and illustrations in Vishnudevananda's book are invaluable for my daily yoga. His chapters on the Science of Yoga are also fascinating. The insights that were the most helpful to me included:
The science of Yoga dates back to pre-historic times and was developed as a method of obtaining Truth. The yoga philosophy teaches that we cannot understand the mind and soul as long as we experiment on the outside. To discover Pure Consciousness we must turn inward, still our thoughts and watch our mind and soul.
Humankind's intellect cannot understand the ever-unfolding mysteries of the universe, time, and the purpose of life. The sacred texts of most religions reveal that Truth can only be experienced when we transcend the senses, emotions, mind and intellect.
All the founders of religions saw God, glimpsed eternity and experienced Truth within themselves and sought Truth through spiritual practice.
Divine knowledge is the realization that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is within and that we are immortal, eternally perfect, peaceful and pure. Many wise men and prophets throughout history have transcended the limitations of space and time. Their wisdom was gained not from belief but through devotional practices such as meditation, contemplation, service, prayer, yoga and the reading of sacred scripture.
A good spiritual teacher asks us to accept only the portions of Truth that we have experienced from within. The teacher knows that a deeper understanding unfolds when we experiment and learn from devotional practices.
The Yoga philosophy says divine knowledge comes when our mind and intellect cease to function. The Yoga practices teach us how to control our mind, emotion and spirit through the body and breath.
Yoga is the awareness of limitations of human knowledge. There are many forms of yoga through which to attain universal consciousness or oneness with the Supreme Being.
The goal of Yoga is to achieve universal consciousness where the individual soul identifies with the Supreme Soul or God.
Pure consciousness is in everything from mineral to man and never changes. Consciousness looks as though it is evolving from mineral to man but it is only changing its form. Universal consciousness is the highest state of awareness where humankind identifies with his real self or God-self.
As the mind develops the veil covering the soul becomes thinner and finally disappears. The aim of Yoga is to dissolve duality. There is no subject or object when the knower, the knowledge and the known are fused. Unity happens when we transcend the limitation of body and mind by lifting the veil that covers the pure consciousness of our inner divinity. The oneness is called "Vadante" a state of union.
Since Yoga is not a religion it can be practiced by all religions, faiths or spiritual traditions.
When we face the Truth of God there is neither pain nor sorrow, superiority or inferiority, individuality or separation. Divine knowledge brings oneness with God and the world. The experience is beyond ordinary understanding and brings the peace to which the Bible refers to as "the peace that passeth all understanding."
Self-consciousness or the "I" starts when the intellect is master. The "I" consciousness is egoism and is usually the cause of wrong doing. Reason can give us information but not self-realization.
Humankinds knowledge is based on the mind and limited by time and space. True knowledge of self destroys ignorance and is the only direct means to liberation.
Yoga is based on oneness which is attained by gradual perfection through reincarnation. Although reincarnation or the evolution of the soul's consciousness is not taught in most Christian, Judaic and Islam traditions it's clearly stated in the Bible in St. John 3:3-7. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto three, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answered, "Verily verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, "Ye must be born again."
Reincarnation and the law of action and reaction (karma) show God is merciful and explains why there is inequality and misery in the world.
Since fifty percent of our lives are spent in sleep, another portion in infancy, childhood, old age, parenting and making a living most of us have little time to understand our Creator, find salvation or evolve to a higher state of being. A loving all knowing God would not manufacture new souls daily to toil on earth for the short period of one life before sending most to hell for eternity.
Our Creator allows our souls to learn through trial and error and gives us free choice to take as many lives we need to correct our mistakes. All that's required is to practice in a sincere and willing search.
God the creator is the Soul of the Universe. All humanity and the animals, plants, and minerals are our family. All the solar systems in the universe, the suns, planets, moons are our relatives.
Pure Consciousness is a timeless state where there is no birth or death, pain or sorrow or time or space. Meditation on the self within brings the Truth and the realization that, "There is no past and future. I am love, knowledge and bliss. I am everywhere and everything. I am the sun and stars. The whole universe is myself. Whatever exists I am."
Eckhart Tolle's 2005 book "A New Earth" appears to be a more update and readable version on the science of yoga.