Yoga: Mastering the Basics
Sandra Anderson and Rolf Sovik
Himalayan Institute Press

If you are looking for a basic book on gentle, non-intimidating yoga, this could be a good fit. Published by The Himalayan Institute, it won the 2001 Independent Publisher Outstanding Book of the Year award.

In clear, simple, easy to understand language, it introduces the reader to major aspects of yoga in a scientific way. Black-and-white photographs illustrate the detailed instructions. Each position is accompanied by a brief description of associated benefits. However, no contraindications are given. From our teaching experience, we believe that certain contraindications (such as for osteoporosis, high blood pressure, replaced hips) are warranted as readers who are drawn to gentle yoga are the ones who tend to have physical issues.

The section on pranayama is well written and there are benefits as well as cautions given in this section. A brief section on meditation gives the reader the basic knowledge on how to begin relaxing.

Two sequences are built around the teachings of the well-known and respected institute. The first develops flexibility, strength, and balance. Anyone looking for truly gentle yoga will find the asanas very helpful. The second sequence is termed “deepening and strengthening." It builds on the first one and is a little more challenging. However, if you like styles such as Bikram, Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Mysore Yoga, Anusara, etc. these sequences will not be challenging enough.

Understanding what you are doing and why is important to a practice and this book helps the reader understand with drawings of the anatomy of the body. A philosophical understanding enriches a yoga practice and the writers reveal a deep knowledge that can only come from living the philosophy on a daily basis.