Archive for the ‘Book and CD Reviews’ Category

Yoga Nidra is being taught at the Benson Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. These are Satyananda-based Yoga Nidras. The hospital is also a center for MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) programs established by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. As I am doing the Teaching Company’s Mind Body Medicine Guide by Dr. Jason Satterfield at the Unitarian Society, it has become yet another affirmation of the dovetail complement of the bio-pyscho-social model of medicine with the meditation philosophies/practices. Viewers can download free tracks from Mahasri Yoga that brings over 35 years of experience with Yoga Nidra and refer to the book review of Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda. Benson’s research started with Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Benson writes in his book [The Relaxation Response}, “We claim no innovation but simply a scientific validation of age-old wisdom”.[3]

The Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital teaches how to elicit the response in nine steps. Benson’s website and his book describe four steps.[5] Two of those steps are essential: a mental device (a simple word, phrase or activity to repeat to keep the mind from wandering) and a passive attitude.[5][6] The goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes humans to relax.

Benson developed the idea of the response, which counters the fight-or-flight response described during the 1920s by Walter Bradford Cannon at the Harvard Medical School.[7] According to Benson more than 60 percent of all visits to healthcare providers are related to stress. It causes the “fight or flight” hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, to secrete into the bloodstream. This incites or exacerbates a number of conditions. They include hypertension, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic low back pain, as well as heart disease, stroke and cancer.[8]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Relaxation_Response

The core belief of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) – that teaching patients mind body approach like meditation and yoga can reduce their stress and improve overall physical health – was proven correct in a preliminary study published this fall in the journal PLOS ONE.  The study found that patients who participated in BHI programs reduced their medical visits on average by 43% in the year after taking part.

Source: http://www.bensonhenryinstitute.org/


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Meena Modi | Being in Flow  Meena Modi | Breathe Fully Live Free
Both CDs are now at the Ridgewood Library and can be checked out through BCCLs in Bergen County.


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When a sixth grader in the three-part teen meditation series I recently did at the library said I had to read Buddha at Bedtime, it just had to be done. Em (not his name) told me he meditated every single day because meditation recharged his batteries–he had also developed various strategies that he ought to write down.

Buddha at Bedtime is suggested for three to six-year olds but some older children may enjoy and benefit from the book, like Em. The vividly illustrated book with thick, glossy paper to withstand multiple readings, has 20 stories based on the Jataka tales (part of Buddhist literature). The Scottish author, Dharmachari Nagaraja, a guest presenter on BBC Radio 2 and ordained into the Western Buddhist Order, starts with a short introduction to Buddha and Buddhism. He suggests ways to use the book–each story ends with a short insight (many might see it as a moral).

The book is an invitation to relax at the end of the day, snuggle up, and enjoy a good story that deals with multiple issues in children’s lives in a positive way. The stories have a universal message and can help open up conversations about what may be happening in a child’s life. There are three age-appropriate meditations at the end–two of which, the Rainbow and Breathing Meditations, are remarkably similar to two meditations in Swami Satyananda’s book Yoga Education for Children (first edition 1985).



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When I read “Pelvic Exercises for Men, Too” by Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times this morning (July 14), I thought that yogis have been doing some pelvic floor exercises for centuries–and more than just Kegel. It is an essential part of every class I teach. The article refers to the book Male Pelvic Fitness by Dr. Andrew L. Siegel, a urologist.

It is clearly a neglected area of the body for the most part and the consequences of the weakening pelvic floor muscles can deeply affect the quality of life with aging or after child birth. Yoga distinguishes three areas and groups of muscles–urinary, perineum, and excretory/rectal. The urinary muscles are exercised by vajroli (men) and sahajoli (women) mudras. The perineum is the focus for moola bandha. Ashwini mudra tones and controls the rectal area. As noted in the column and comments, the Kegel/moola bandha is a difficult area to locate for men and it is not any easier for women. It is the area of the perineum. Moola Bandha by Swami Buddhananda Saraswati (first edition 1978) is an excellent book on these yoga exercises and it gives clear diagrams as well as specific instructions on locating the areas as well as the practices.

I have not read Dr. Siegel’s book. One clear difference though is that in raja yoga these practices were given for spiritual purposes to control sexual energy for abstinence. However, anyone can exercise that area for general health of the organs there as well as for incontinence.

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The 80-minute guided meditation CD Breathe Fully Live Free: Meditations to Release Anxiety and Fear is now available at Whole Foods Princeton, Ridgewood, and most other Whole Foods stores in New Jersey, lower Connecticut, and Long Island. It is also on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon (see links on Mahasri Yoga). The CD includes some core personal teachings of Swami Buddhananda Saraswati who was a key, well-loved Australian teacher (especially for yoga nidras and kriya yoga!) at the Bihar School of Yoga. He is the author of Moola Bandha:The Master Key.

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Breathe Fully Live Free: Meditations to Release Anxiety and Fear is now available for downloads on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

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So many readers come to this blog searching for answers on surya namaskar. There is a whole book, a small one, devoted to this series of poses. Surya namaskar, or sun salutations, is one of the most popular flows of yoga asana. There are perhaps as many variations as there are teachers. Many questions come up on how to do this sequence of the traditional 12 poses. Some poses are repeated in the cycle. This can be a complete yoga practice as shown by Surya Namaskara: A Technique of Solar Vitalization by Swami Satyananda.

For the full review please go to http://mahasriyoga.com/bookreviews/SuryaNamaskara.html.

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