Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: Journey Into Power


So many of you are probably wondering: "Why did you read this book?" and the short answer is that I've done some of Baron Baptiste's yoga (DVD's) and I really liked it.  I figured I'd check out his book to try to learn a little more about practicing yoga.  (Some of you also may be wondering, "What is Namaste? Namaste is a greeting that essentially means "Be Well")

Before I go any further, this is Baron Baptiste:

The structure of the book is well thought out, and one really smart thing Baptiste does is that he teaches his History and Mindset before he teaches you any yoga.  This section includes valuable lessons surrounding the Eight Universal Principles For Stepping Up To The Edge.  These principles include things such as being present in the moment, listening to your instincts, and focusing on growth.  This section not only taught me the mindset necessary to succeed at yoga, but the idea of living in the moment has been an important part in helping me to enjoy other activities in my life (i.e. hiking).  The book is full of lessons like these, and it is because of this that I think this book is valuable whether you want to practice yoga or not.

The second section of this book revolves around actually Practicing Yoga, but it first draws attention to the Pillars of Power Yoga and the Principles of Alignment.   By this time the mindset deal is getting a little old, but I do think it helps to remind you Yoga is much more than the moves.  And then you learn the moves! Yay!  (I honestly skimmed this section because I'd seen it already in the DVD, but the book does a great job illustrating how to do each pose, and the risks involved with each).  After going through about 60 pages of yoga poses, Baptiste gives you a few sequence ideas, and then emphasizes how important it is to do yoga every day, even if it's only for 15 minutes.

The third section of this book goes on to talk about the The Cleansing Diet.  The first thing to understand about this is that it is NOT a diet program.  This chapter begins by discussing the philosophy behind The Cleansing Diet, including concepts such as Being Mindful, and Eating With A Cause.  The major focus of this section is to ensure the food you eat is energizing you, and that you are not eating to numb any negative emotions.  He talks about eating water rich foods, and trying to cut back on foods that are excessively processed, fatty, or sugary.  In the end of this section Baptiste suggests a week long Detoxifying Cleanse (diet), but he clearly does not intend for this to be used year round.  I was pretty surprised, you really don't eat much, but again, this is meant to clean your system out, not be your annual diet.  This diet also includes a three day Fruit Diet, which sounds scary, but I get the impression that it is far more practical than what it may sound like.  Gandhi, for example, pretty much did this his whole life, except he also ate nuts in addition to the fruit.  Also, I think Baptiste very wisely points out that this is not something that should be done during a busy week, as it is may be challenging.

Also, before I move on to Part Four, I want to talk about this section a little more.  Baron Baptiste recommends that you eat as much organic and whole grain food as possible.  If you like whole grain food you should go for it, but, to be blunt, it makes me poop too much.  I would, however think twice before eating organic.  Organic food is far more expensive and makes very little difference in terms of health benefit.  I say this simply because eating healthier is a wonderful thing, but cost is an easy excuse that no one should be tempted to use.

The fourth part of this book revolves around Meditation.  Now this isn't teaching you how to go sit on a rock for 4 hours and think about nothing at all, rather this section focuses on giving you new perspective.  The idea behind meditation is that you take a break from constantly 'doing' something, and take a few minutes to just chill.  You separate yourself from your thoughts, and look at them from the perspective of an outsider.  I admit I was a little skeptical of this at first, but I gave it a shot and it really does help you to discover many senseless worries you may be experiencing.  The good news is, meditation is actually really simple.

Want to know how to meditate? 
Just sit yourself in a comfortable position, and bring yourself into the present moment.  

Want to know a little more?  Here is a one minute guided (Breathing) meditation I came across a few months ago:

That's really all meditation is.  

Also, there are some lessons you can learn from meditation without sitting silently for 15 minutes a day.  One lesson I find really valuable is the knowledge that it's okay to do less in your day.  You don't always have to be doing something.  It's okay to take some time every day to just slow down and relax.

The last part of this book revolves around Applying These Principles To Your Daily Life.  This chapter is not only 7 pages, but I've also touched on many of the points he makes already.  The one thing I haven't touched upon is the idea that practicing yoga/meditation is easy, but applying the lessons to your daily life is the real challenge.  I think that's a very valuable thing to keep in mind.  If you spend an hour each day trying to enhance the serenity in your life, then go out and have road rage for 45 minutes on your way to work, it's completely missing the point of Power Vinyasa Yoga.

Now for the important question
Should you read this book?

The Answer? YES. You should.  

You don't have to be interested in Yoga/Meditation to gain wisdom from this book.  This book is all about helping to enhance your life by transforming your body and mind.  Whether you practice yoga or not, the lessons of this book will definitely help you in some area of your life.


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