The definitive book of yoga therapy, this groundbreaking work comes to you from the medical editor of the country's premier yoga magazine, who is both a practicing yogi and a Western-trained physician.
Beginning with an overview of the history and science of yoga, Dr. McCall describes the many different techniques in the yoga tool kit; explains what yoga does and who can benefit from it (virtually everyone!); and provides lavishly illustrated and minutely detailed instructions on starting a yoga practice geared to your fitness level and your health status. Yoga as Medicine offers a wealth of practical information, including how to:
*Utilize yogic tools, including postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, for both prevention and healing of illness
*Master the art of becoming more in tune with your body
*Communicate more effectively with your doctor
*Adopt therapeutic yoga practices as either an alternative or a complement to surgery and to expensive, sometimes dangerous medications
Find an instructor and a style of yoga that are right for you. With twenty chapters devoted to the work of individual master teachers, including such well-known figures as Patricia Walden, John Friend, and Rodney Yee, Yoga as Medicine shows how these experts have applied the wisdom of this ancient holistic practice to twenty different conditions, ranging from arthritis to chronic fatigue, depression, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, infertility, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, and obesity. Defining yoga as "a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit," Dr. McCall shows the way to a path that can truly alter your life.
An indispensable guide for the millions who now practice yoga or would like to begin, as well as for yoga teachers, body workers, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.
Starred Review. Western-trained internist and Yoga Journal medical editor McCall has practiced Iyengar yoga for a decade. In 2002, he traveled to India, where most scientific research on yoga's medical benefits has been conducted. The results of that visit and McCall's subsequent study of yoga therapy and ayurveda (India's ancient medical system) are presented here, translated into Western medical terms. For example, McCall demystifies such concepts as samskaras (unconscious patterns that negatively affect behavior and health); scientists, McCall says, explain these patterns as repeated firings of neurons that change the brain's wiring. Although McCall's focus is on yoga therapy, he includes material that will be helpful to most students. For readers challenged by illness, he provides an overview of popular yoga styles and their suitability for various degrees of fitness; steps to finding a yoga therapist; and what to expect from a session. Twenty chapters feature noted yoga instructors describing their approaches to specific conditions--panic attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, infertility, cancer, etc. They offer advice, rather than fixed protocols, based on their tradition and experience. This might frustrate readers seeking a formula, but those willing to experiment have access to many diverse tools and practices. No doubt McCall's fine articulation of yoga's healing potential will appeal to a large audience of instructors, students, physicians and their patients. (July)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall
In this book, i'm asking you to think of yoga as medicine-a concept which is perhaps new and quite foreign to you. Because it is a kind of medicine that can benefit the healthy as well as the sick, I'm going to suggest that you consider starting a regular practice, no matter what your current state of health. You may have seen pictures of yoga contortionists or heard about grueling "power yoga" and "hot yoga" classes that convinced you this isn't something you could possibly do. If so, I hope to show you that virtually anyone can do yoga, including those who start out with little strength, energy, or flexibility, and those who are ill or injured.
I say this not as a lifelong yoga teacher or someone who can readily bend his body into the shape of a square knot-I'm not, not by a long shot. I am a physician, a board-certified specialist in internal medicine, who came to yoga in middle age and found it-and continues to find it-incredibly challenging. But in this challenge, I have seen steady growth in what I can do and how good I feel. My body has changed in ways I wouldn't have believedpossible, as has my mental state. The more I put into my yoga practice, the greater the rewards have become.
I signed up for my first yoga class in the same spirit that I'd brought to salsa dancing and tai chi. It was simply something interesting I'd heard about and decided to try. I didn't come in with any kind of faith that yoga would change my life, but it did. At first my progress was slow. I studied yoga casually for a couple of years, making it to a class every other week or so. Due to my busy schedule, I never seemed to find the time to practice at home, even though my teacher, Patricia Walden, had said many times that fifteen or twenty minutes every day was much more valuable than a longer session once a week.
Like a lot of people who play competitive sports and never pay much attention to stretching, I'd started out incredibly stiff. I had great difficulty with even the most basic poses. With my legs straight, I couldn't touch the floor with my fingertips. I couldn't sit cross-legged without feeling discomfort in my upper back. I had difficulty just straightening my spine, let alone bending it backward. And even though I enjoyed the feeling of peace that class left me with those first two years, my body never became much more flexible. Then I made a decision: I was going to take a leap of faith.
I resolved to get up every morning for one year and practice yoga. I bought a mat, a strap, and a book describing the basic stretching, strengthening, and relaxation poses known as asana (pronounced AH-sah-nah). Even if my schedule was crazy and I could only fit in a few minutes, I'd do it. I started inserting yoga into the cracks in my day. If I was sitting at the computer or had a break between patients, I'd take a minute to stretch my arms over my head or bend forward, place my hands on the desk, and lengthen my spine for a few seconds. If I was on the road, I'd do asanas in my hotel room. I started to pay more attention to my body, noticing the way my shoulders tended to slump as I sat behind the wheel or read a book.
With regular practice, amazing things began to happen. After a few months, my chest started to open up. My friends and family noticed that my chronically slouching posture, from years of studying and computer work, was improving. The knots that I had thought were a permanent fixture in my upper back slowly melted away. I didn't get injured as often as I used to. In the five years before starting yoga, I gave up basketball due to heel spurs and I lost a year of playing tennis due to an inflammation of my elbow. I'd noticed the twinges of pain that heralded a rotator cuff problem in my shoulder. Chronic pain in my Achilles tendon had me worried that I'd suffer the same kind of rupture I'd seen my
best friend go through. All of these problems are better now, and I suspect that if I'd been doing yoga all along, I might have avoided many of them completely.
Perhaps even more profound than yoga's physical effect on me were the mental and psychological benefits. Once I developed a regular practice, I noticed a change in outlook. Problems didn't seem to get to me as much. If I dropped a tray of ice cubes and they scattered across the kitchen floor, I didn't blurt out words that would get beeped off network TV. I just laughed, shook my head, and cleaned up. I didn't seem to worry as much. Without even consciously trying, more and more I seemed to be doing what yoga philosophy teaches: to give your best effort without being attached to the result.