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by Charlotte Bell
Rodmell Press, 2012
Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Nov 13th 2012
Yoga for Meditators is part of a series produced by Rodmell Press called "Yoga Shorts," specialty offerings which provide a concise but in-depth exploration of particular topics. As author Charlotte Bell explains in her Introduction, traditional asana practice is in fact intended to prepare the body for meditation. However, through her own meditation practice of many years, she came to the realization that sitting in meditation presents particular physical challenges, and so she designed this book to address these issues.
Bell begins helpfully with setting up an appropriate seated posture for meditation. Here she goes above and beyond the usual suggestion to use support to attain a comfortable seat. Rather, Bell explores the advantages and disadvantages of different types of support, from cushions to blankets to a chair, reviewing specifics about how to find the best match and then offering tips for further refining the seated posture. She concludes the information on seated posture with intention setting, which includes a brief overview of relaxed breathing.
Once Bell has provided an overview of sitting, she then introduces postures to prepare the body for seated meditation. This is Part 2 of the book, and it is divided into several sections: Waking the Spine, Relaxing the Base, Softening the Shoulders, and Quieting the Body-Mind. As with other offerings from Rodmell Press (Judith Lasater's Yogabody and 30 Essential Yoga Poses come to mind), the postural descriptions are meticulously detailed, offering information on props, benefits, contraindications, and modifications. For virtually every pose, Bell suggests variations, especially if one is experiencing any discomfort in the posture.
Part 3 addresses the practice of yoga. It includes a FAQ section as well as six themed sequences (e.g., "For Increasing Energy" and "For Relieving Stress") developed from the postures included in Part 2. In the final section of the book, Bell introduces alternate forms of meditation. In particular, she focuses on walking meditation, reviewing suggestions for practice, recommending poses to prepare for walking meditation, and providing foot massage exercises to restore the feet. However, she also includes guidelines for both lying and standing meditation. Bell concludes the book with a brief Resources section.
Overall, this is a relatively short yet thorough resource for developing an asana routine which will enhance meditation. It is ideally intended for those who find meditation to be physically challenging, as Bell strives to increase comfort in one's seated practice.
© 2012 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.