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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claudia loves lists
There is one thing I wish I'd known before I started practicing Ashtanga and it's not in Claudia's book, I looked. I'll tell you what that is later.

Anyone who's stuck with my own blog over the years has probably figured out that I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Ashtanga ( for hate read, frustration and irritation), every now and again I tend to...
Published on 9 July 2011 by A. J. Hall

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If I had known what I was going to find in this book, I would have not bought it.
Although I found a few ideas contained in the book useful, I did not like the concept nor the approach. For a start, the 21 things structure was quite confusing at the beginning, when the author kept introducing numbered sub-sections within the main sections and I was not sure what I was reading about at each time.

I found some of the thoughts patronising and...
Published 10 months ago by Mape


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claudia loves lists, 9 July 2011
By 
A. J. Hall "grimmly2007" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (Paperback)
There is one thing I wish I'd known before I started practicing Ashtanga and it's not in Claudia's book, I looked. I'll tell you what that is later.

Anyone who's stuck with my own blog over the years has probably figured out that I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Ashtanga ( for hate read, frustration and irritation), every now and again I tend to bang my head against it. It was during one of these ...more negative periods that Claudia brought out her book and I immediately switched over to feelin' the love again as a result of reading it, it reminded me why I love the practice.

Claudia's own passion for the practice is infectious, it's on almost every page. Yet despite that passion there's also an openness that I respect immensely. As a blogger herself Claudia's come up against questions and criticisms regarding the practice both on her own blog and those on which she contributes through comments. She's aware of what makes people uncomfortable or perhaps suspicious at times and is always respectful in her response, she is constantly exploring the practice and trying to understand it a little more herself.

In the book that translates as respect for her readers.

She doesn't just throw information about the practice at you, she invites you in, she doesn't avoid the difficult questions, she often struggles with them too. Her book is a guide to pretty much everything surrounding the practice ( and more besides ) but she's also a fellow traveller, she wants to share her view of the practice but her curiosity comes through, she wants to hear your view too.

The last section is called...

'Keep in touch'

Claudia shares.

The book is personal, she's telling you why she chose to practice Ashtanga, (that's pretty much the title of Chapter four).

' I will never preach or try to convince anyone of anything, but I can tell you some of the reasons why I came into ashtanga, why it has worked for me and how it continues to work.' p39

One of my favourite things about the book is an in-joke, I didn't get right a way. The book's title relates to a blog post Claudia wrote a while back and is the title of chapter three, on a hunch I took another look at the contents, page, yep, there are also twenty-one chapters.

Claudia loves lists.

For example

Chapter six : 3 specific cases in which yoga helped me personally
Chapter seven : 15 unusual benefits of yoga
Chapter fourteen : 9 lame excuses that keep people away from yoga
Chapter sixteen 19 suggestions to improve your yoga practice
Chapter twenty-one : 32 unusual ways to love ourselves.

Notice too that none of those chapters mention Ashtanga in the title. Claudia practices Ashtanga but I would argue her book is relevant to any style of yoga in fact it might be said it's a book about taking more control of your life

Chapter 18 : A few ways to practice yoga when we're off the mat.

Notice she says when we're off the mat

This is not a practice manual, you wont find the ashtanga sequences laid out but If you are an Ashtangi then your going to want this book, it has, for example, one of the best guides around to making the leap and visiting Mysore, India where the Ashtanga style began, command Central if you will.

Chapter ten: An Ashtanga yoga guide to Mysore

Which talks about Accommodation, transportation, food, supermarkets, bookstores, sightseeing just everything.

But we also have...

Chapter eleven : Adventures of a beginner in Mysore

This is an hilarious account written by Claudia's husband relating his first experience of visiting ( being dragged along) to Mysore to practice ashtanga for the first time. This was a guest post on Claudia's blog, here James gets a guest chapter.

There's also a chapter on the Saturday, rest day practice, the oil bath.

This is a wonderful book and while Claudia has made a free pdf copy available on her blog, however your going to want it in book form, in fact your probably going to want several copies as your sure to be passing them on to all your friends who ask you about this strange bouncing up and down on mats we do and are tempted to give it a try.

That said, in a couple of years your probably going to find several battered and well thumbed copies laying around your local shala in as well as in Mysore itself.

I said at the beginning of this post that there is one thing I wish I'd known before I started practicing Ashtanga that isn't Claudia's book, here it is

22. Once you practice Ashtanga for a while you'll find it almost impossible to settle on practicing anything else.

That's not in there but Claudia's book helped me to understand a little of why that is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must have, 5 Jun. 2011
This review is from: 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (Paperback)
i recently started practicing ashtanga and of course did a bit of research to find out more about it. luckily i came across this brilliant book which turned out to be an excellent tool for all beginners and i would even say also for some of you who have been practicing for a while. it covers everything: the basic info about ashtanga, all you need to know about the practice and also briefly explains the philosophy behind. it even has a guide for your first trip to india. i have read it a few weeks back but keep coming back to it as it is a great source of reference. it really does what it says on the tin and a bit more. definitely recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If I had known what I was going to find in this book, I would have not bought it., 16 Aug. 2014
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Although I found a few ideas contained in the book useful, I did not like the concept nor the approach. For a start, the 21 things structure was quite confusing at the beginning, when the author kept introducing numbered sub-sections within the main sections and I was not sure what I was reading about at each time.

I found some of the thoughts patronising and dismissive of other people's approach and/or struggles to engage in regular practice and other aspects of their lives. I would have omitted the section on "finding love", as at that point I felt like I was reading a dating manual, completely irrelevant to the practice of Ashtanga. I did not like the section on "excuses" that other people may have not to practice and the author's attitude towards this, making fun of people's reasons. The superficial reasons she describes -too lightly and judgmentally in my opinion- may be underlying other stronger reasons and each of us has to follow our own journey into the practice.
There were a few other comments, opinions and sections, particularly the ones in which the author suggests ideas of how people should/could improve their lives that were too subjective and judgmental, but I guess, opinions are something very personal, including my own. I am a beginner in Ashtanga, and I had done my reading and searches into the main sources (and I continue to do so), which is what probably most people do.This book did not help or add anything to my knowledge or practice. The only thing I did find useful was the chapter about mysore, as I have not been there yet, explaining some of the elements of the practice and accreditation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashtanga reading, 26 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (Paperback)
Honest down-to-earth info about ashtanga yoga practice and visiting Mysore.
Many typos (presume English not first language of author) makes it a more endearing book.
Inspiring and accessible. Made me get on my yoga mat and enjoy a daily practice :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Namaste, 4 Feb. 2014
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Good down to earth intro to Ashtanga with humour and honesty. The author describes her path into this practise. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for beginners who want a bit more background, 11 April 2013
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My friend convinced me to go on a 3 night yoga retreat (she is a yoga nut and I haven't done it for maybe 10 years plus), but I really enjoyed our time away (from the kids and husband especially! :)) and decided to find out a bit more about the whole practise.
This book was very informative for the absolute beginner but it was originally written as a series of blogs I think and so can seem a bit disjointed rather than one chapter flowing from one to the other.
It can get a little too spiritual/religious if you are just looking into yoga as an exercise regime, but if you have an open mind it is fine.
My only real criticism would be that it needs a glossary for all of the Sanskrit versions of the poses (I only know the English versions, and very few of those!)
A great starting point though if you some more info on Ashtanga yoga. Enjoy!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Generally ok book, 28 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (Paperback)
This book is practical, but I did not like the authors way of explaining certain elements, also her personal journey was portrayed in a somewhat non spiritual way, and mostly making 'fun' of elements where one should have had a more objective standpoint.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring little book to complement your Ashtanga library, 23 Jun. 2012
By 
Asphodelia (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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Before you pick up a Kindle copy of 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice, be aware that this is not a the kind of yoga book written by one of the well-known western gurus such as John Scott, David Swenson or Richard Freeman, but more like a comprehensive collection of material from Claudia Azula's blog as well as some previously unavailable content. Therefore, the overall tone of this book is slightly amateur and a little bit disjointed. But this is exactly what makes it perfect for beginners, and for `beginners', Azula includes anyone who has been practising Ashtanga for less than a decade or so. Ashtanga is most certainly not a practice to learn in a week-long intensive course at some Ashram.

Personally, I have been practising Ashtanga for just over two years, with several long injury-related breaks in between. Although I have read a few other books about yoga and Ashtanga prior to this, I found 21 Things very refreshing in its approach and Azula's simple, practical advice actually inspired to make some changes to my practice - such as trying to practice early in the morning before work.

On a few occasions, as someone with a basic knowledge of Ashtanga I disagreed with the author; for example, she advocates a rigorous practice of 6 days a week, with Saturdays off. I worry that a beginner reading this book might be put off by such a daunting schedule; even David Swenson, in his `Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual' suggests that it is better for someone new to the practice to start with small goals and practice more regularly 2-3 times a week rather than trying to do too much to only then feel overwhelmed and give up altogether.

There was also a fair bit of pseudoscience in some of the chapters about purification and other very yoga-like concepts which I personally would take with a pinch of salt; but of course, the writer never claims to be offering medical advice, and she is absolutely correct in stating that once you take on a regular yoga practice, the body seems to crave healthier food and a healthier way of being.

In spite of these minor shortcomings, for all new yogis and even the most experienced ones, '21 Things' will be a very inspiring read to complement the many `serious' books out there on the subject. It will not break the bank to download it for your Kindle, so do it now and you will be inspired to get on your mat in no time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get started, 30 Aug. 2013
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This book is motivational and sympathetic to your journey as you start an ashtanga yoga practice, thank you for the amazing advice, I am looking forward to stepping on my mat today :-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any ashtanga beginner, 4 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: 21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (Paperback)
This is an easy insightful read, just what I needed as I have just begun ash tanga yoga. I will definitely be reading this again. Full of great tips and advice.
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21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice
21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice by Claudia Azula Altucher (Paperback - 9 May 2011)
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