Yoga for All of Us
“I found Peggy's book to be very reader friendly. Her instructions are clear and the photos are very helpful. One can pick up this book, follow along, and feel successful.”— Janet Archer
The book is clearly written and easy to follow. Poses are grouped according to type and are described in detail and there are chapters on breathing exercises, and meditation, exercises for the mind, as well.
The photographs are of real people who "make it clear that you are never 'too old', 'too overweight', or 'too out of shape' to do yoga" as noted yoga teacher Suza Francina says. You may recognize Peggy's 100 year old student, Jo who is featured in the DVDs Yoga for the Rest of Us and More Yoga for the Rest of Us.
You will meet Ted, a gentleman in his 70s new to yoga, and Cathie who beautifully demonstrates that yoga is also for larger people. Kwame who learned yoga in his native country in Africa rounds out the photo models, in addition to many photos of Peggy. Learn about how Peggy got started teaching yoga back in the 1970s through her story in the Introduction.
Angeles Arrien, noted anthropologist and author, calls Yoga for All of Us "an outstanding resource and exceptional guide".
Excerpt: How to Use This Book
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
---Arthur Ashe, American tennis player
Pick a few things you want to work on and make a commitment to yourself to try them every day. If you want to improve your strength and stamina, practice a few of the standing poses each day. Try the same ones every day or vary your practice with a different set each time you experiment.
If you are looking for overall conditioning and a cardiovascular workout, the Sun Salutations alone make a wonderful addition to your day. Once you know them, you can do many repetitions in only five minutes (but set aside another couple of minutes for Relaxation to finish properly). Many of my students do that daily.
If you want a very gentle and easy way to limber up and a series of poses that combines breath with movement, try the entire Warm-up section. Once you know it, it will take you fifteen minutes and your whole body will feel great afterward.
Start where you want based on the changes you are looking for, whether it’s balance, strength, better breathing, or peace of mind, there’s a chapter for each and more. It’s the doing, and not just looking at this book, that will make Yoga for the Rest of Us work for you.
Try to do some yoga every day. And there may be days when you can do much more than you usually have time for. The more you do, and the more often you practice, the more changes you will see. You will gain new physical skills as mentioned above and increase your mental abilities as well, like better concentration and focus. As you progress, select the poses and practices that challenge and inspire you; you might one day find that you are able to do a new pose or hold a pose longer than you ever dreamed possible.
This book is for you
I have designed this book so that just about anyone can do yoga. Instructions for each of the classical yoga poses include variations to simplify the poses. Use the modifications if you have physical limitations in balance, flexibility, or strength. If you are not very fit, start with the gentlest or easiest version.
Most of the yoga is designed to be used with a chair. Don’t hesitate to use one. Using a chair will not decrease the effectiveness of this program. Rather it will help you maximize your results. For example, you will feel bolder when working on a balance pose if you know the chair is there to rescue you.
There are fewer yoga poses in this book than in many books on yoga. Of the hundreds to choose from, I have selected the classical ones that lend themselves to being adapted for a beginner’s needs. I have not included any of the risky or extreme poses. There are no inverted poses and few back bends. I want you to have a safe and gentle introduction to yoga so you will experience its many benefits.
This book begins with gentle warm-up movements and stretches. Though they may not seem challenging, don’t underestimate the significance of these simple starters. They are useful in getting you moving, increasing the range of motion in your joints, and improving circulation throughout your body. You will feel a ‘‘before’’ and ‘‘after’’ difference, like increased warmth in your shoulders or a good-feeling tingly sensation in your ankles and feet. After I do the side stretches, I am aware of the muscles between my ribs and know that even they have received some exercise. One of my students, a man in his eighties says the Warm-up series is like spreading ‘‘tiny bubbles of energy’’ throughout his body.
Strong on practical help in getting you started doing yoga safely, this book contains little yoga philosophy. There are many different approaches and schools of yoga and a profound and comprehensive philosophy. That can be fascinating once you have a practical understanding of yoga and want to place the poses in a philosophical context. For now, all you need is to get started. The esoteric framework can come later if and when you want it.
Before you begin
Check with your doctor before beginning the activities in this book if you have had a recent operation or injury, have restricted mobility, a chronic condition or complaint, or you are significantly overweight. There are certain disorders, like osteoporosis (low bone mass), that require special precautions to ensure safety in movement. If you are concerned, show this book to your doctor or knowledgeable therapist so that he/she can see its unique, gentle, and modified approach to yoga and understand what you are undertaking.
Please proceed with care and attention. Move out of any position that causes you pain or extreme discomfort. Your best approach is ‘‘easy does it.’’ Don’t push beyond your limits. Yoga does not endorse the ‘‘no pain/no gain’’ way of thinking.
Be aware that while the poses are deceptively simple, your appreciation and experience of them will change over time. A student named Barbara, who was new to yoga, said, ‘‘When I first started I thought, This can’t be doing very much, but I was very wrong.’’ As Barbara found out, the most simple of poses have the power to transform body and mind.
Don’t expect instant results, however. It has taken time for your body to get into the shape it is in now, and with time and practice you will be pleased at the well-being you can regain. The long-term benefits are immense.
The good news is that you don’t need any special preparation to begin yoga. Occasionally potential students tell me that they will start yoga when they are in better shape or are more flexible, but I tell them not to wait. No matter how stiff you are, you can increase your flexibility with surprising speed. You’ll also get stronger, gain better balance, learn to breathe better, and cultivate a calmer mind and a more resilient spirit.
What you need
To get started all you need is this book, a chair, and a willing spirit. You can do yoga almost anywhere you have enough space to spread out and the privacy to be comfortable. It is best to choose a strong, sturdy chair, like a kitchen chair, as an aid to your safety for the standing poses, but even a folding chair will do.
The use of a yoga mat (sometimes referred to as a ‘‘sticky mat’’) under the chair is helpful because it provides a nonslip surface for both the chair and your feet. Make sure all four legs of the chair rest firmly on the mat to keep the chair from moving as you lean on it. If you have no mat, place the chair against the wall or a heavy piece of furniture so the chair will not slip away from you.
You don’t have to use a mat to begin your practice of yoga, but yoga enthusiasts benefit by having a yoga mat. Not only do you create a nonslip surface, but by spreading out your mat, you create and define your yoga space.
A fellow yoga teacher says, ‘‘The most difficult yoga pose is that first step onto your mat.’’
Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., and physical therapist, yoga teacher since 1971 and author of 30 Essential Yoga Poses.
Copyright © 2006 by Peggy Cappy
Buy your copy of Yoga for All of Us to refer to again and again.