Anatomy of Hatha Yoga by H. David Coulter is a unique and outstanding volume that brings together the Western training and knowledge of a University teacher of neuroscience, microscopic anatomy and elementary anatomy with his love for and deep knowledge of yoga. While this book is a fantastic resource it is not for everybody. It is highly detailed, fairly technical and deals with the complex systems of the human body. My own experience may be instructive. I tried to read Anatomy of Hatha Yoga numerous times and found it was so much work that I put it aside each time, until the ruptured discs in my spine created so much pain for me that I could barely move. When the pain first became acute I went to the doctor for a diagnosis and he thought I had a pinched nerve in my lumbar spine but that was all I knew. I was told with rest the symptoms would become less severe and I was determined to let that happen. Plus, since I could stand and sit up only with enormous effort and determination I did not want to be going to other doctors or doing research on the internet. Still, I did want to do something to help myself and since most of my yoga was just making things worse, I decided to read whatever books I had available that could shed light on what was happening with me. With the time and the incentive in place I began to plod through Anatomy of Hatha Yoga. By so doing, I was able to learn the basics of how a problem in my spine was making it impossible for me to sit up and walk, largely through sending pain into my legs. I also learned how different types of breathing would affect my spine in different ways and how certain postures encouraged different types of breathing. Although it was slow going it was fascinating stuff. Once I was back on my feet and back to teaching yoga, albeit without doing a lot of demonstrating, I found that what I learned in this book was helping me to see what was happening in my students and myself and even gave me new ideas for breathing exercises and posture sequences. I'm sorry it took a crisis in my life to get me to do the hard work of accessing this great book, but I was glad to have it handy when I was ready for it. There are many, many positive reviews of this book. I've chosen excerpts from 4 that will give you a fuller sense of what is in it. "(Coulter) leads the reader through the intricacies of anatomy systematically, with a watchful eye on the goal: to understand yoga practice better...For example, three ways to accomplish the sometimes awkward feat of isolating the rectus abdominis muscles in nauli kriya are explained in a section on abdominopelvic exercises." Rolf Sovik, Yoga International "Coulter uses anatomy to illuminate the structure and execution of the poses, and, at the same time, brings the anatomy alive through the poses and selected exercises... if you are a Yoga therapist or teacher, or a a student who enjoys breaking down the poses and putting them back together again, then you will most definitely want a copy of this book to refer to over and over again." Richard Rosen, International Journal of Yoga Therapy "The book is certainly exhaustive and comprehensive in its scope and breadth, offering insights into such topics as the mechanics of breathing, the various kriyas, and more subtle aspects of Yoga practice such as mudras and bandhas from a Yogic as well as from a Western scientific point of view." Jane Sill, Yoga & Health "The result of an obvious labor of love, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga explains hatha yoga in demystified, scientific terms while at the same time honoring its traditions. It should go a long way to helping yoga achieve the scientific recognition it deserves. Useful as both a textbook and reference, this work is a book that all serious yoga teachers and practitioners will want on their shelves. It will also be welcomed by sympathetic physicians -and there are more of us all the time- as well as physical therapists and other health professionals." Timothy McCall, M.D.
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