Sunday 23 September 2007

A Bibliography of Recommended Reading

The following are some of my favorite yoga and related reading titles.
The Tree of Yoga and
Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar also recommended are Light on Yoga and
Light on Pranayama
A wonderful overview on yoga, the practice and philosophy for newcomers:
Living Yoga, a Comprehensive Guide to Daily Life by Georg Feuerstein 
Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater

The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar
Actually all books written by the two authors above are wonderful, Feuerstein is my favorite writer on yoga. Also good are his Yoga, a Shambhala guide and Yoga Gems.

Yoga and Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization, by David Frawley
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
The Language of Yoga, A Complete Guide to asana names, sanskrit and chants by Nicolai Bachman

Beautiful Reading:
Autobiography of a Yogi; Paramahansa Yogananda
My Guru and His Disciple; Christopher Isherwood
Bhagavad Gita; translation by Stephen Mitchell (there are many other translations, of course.)
The Living Gita, commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
The Power of Myth; Joseph Campbell
Care of the Soul; Thomas More
The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda and
Reflections on the Yoga Sutras by TKV Desikachar

There are beautiful books on the teachings of the Buddha, edited by Jack Kornfield.

Yoga for Body, Breath and Mind; A.G. Mohan
Yoga of Heart; Mark Whitwell
Yoga Body, Buddha Mind; Cyndi Lee
Jivamukti Yoga; Sharon Gannon and David Life
The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga; H. David Coulter
Anatomie pour le movement; Blandine Calais-Germain
Méditer Jour après Jour; Christophe André
The Mudras; Gertrude Hirschi
Perfect Health; (Ayurveda) Deepak Chopra

Favorite Links:
a good site for yoga getaways

Sunday 2 September 2007

A U.S. passport

Traveling as an American isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Since I got my first passport as an adult in 1981 to travel on my own to New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Isles I have undulged a wanderlust that doesn’t let me go. What do I love about travel ? People. Simply meeting people, sharing stories, getting off the beaten track and hearing the real tales from the real locals. And, I like to say I am from the U.S. because people love to share their personal experiences and reactions to the U.S.A. When I lived in California and traveled abroad, typical reactions would be Hollywood ! I have a cousin who married so and so in Los Angeles, do you know…. .. ? I had a sponsor when I was a child from San Francisco, very good man….maybe you know of him ? And then it was, ohhhh, I love New York, the Big Apple. And they would show me a souvenir a traveler before me had given them that is always with them, some sort of little talisman or a photo, recently one in a cell phone in India of a lovely woman cycling in front of the Hotel de Ville in Paris who had traveled before me. We would talk about among other things, movies, actors, books our famous universities, our natural splendours, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, the friends they had made in travelers before me, but what I always loved was the spark in the eyes and the smile in the voice that exuded an enthusiasm that was contagious; we had exported that enthusiasm, that optimism. Many expressed a secret desire to want to be from this big happy place, too. Never once in 25 years of travel did a host in a visiting country identify me with my President and only my President. Perhaps in no other time in recent history other than maybe during the Kennedy Administration has America been defined abroad by a single last name. Now, the Kennnedy era was before my time but I was young enough to remember the world loved this new young man and mourned him deeply. People abroad used to care about Americans and it was no more evident than recently after September 2001. Even three years later the empathy abroad for us was palpable, I felt it in India three years ago.

« I’m from the U.S. », I answer during a recent visit to India. Their eyes look down, feet shuffle the conversation stops. I try to keep the smile in my voice and the mood upbeat, try not to sound too apologetic. No shared stories of « have you been to Chicago ? ». « I have a friend in Chicago. » I sign in and out of guest registers in hotels and ashrams. Country of origin ? U.S. . No comment. When someone eventually put a voice to the lowered gaze he said, « So, on your next trip to India, you will bring Bush ? » I am really not sure what that was supposed to mean and since it came from a swami at an ashram I respectfully didn’t say a thing.

What follows the sadness from these revelations to me a world traveler is anger. I’m angry that a single man whose policies most of the country doesn’t agree with defines all of us Americans abroad. Defines America abroad. America a country of creative, hard-working, compassionate, generous and diverse people. We exuded an optimism abroad that people liked. We exported a very special commodity called enthusiasm. Talking about America and friendships with Americans made people happy. This recent one- word, America, has not only managed to curb our optimism but it has deprived citizens of it globally as well. Finally, his mistakes and yes, his atrocities have managed to define us.

In my shame and anger the temptation to jot down another country of origin is great (I live in France, now.) or make up a new country. Frusa ? It’s tempting. But, I won’t give up because travel and honesty cultivates diplomacy. The solution remains the same as it always has for those of us who like to get out there and meet people. Explore and disentangle the myths, take apart the stereotypes, discover the world one friendship at a time. I will continue to meet their eyes smile and answer USA. If they want to speak to me I will listen and hope as I represent my country and they theirs, the diversity in our experiences and our stories will once again be shared and we can laugh again and talk about something else!