Author: T. K. V. Desikachar
The challenge for me, however, is learning how to practice on my own. To this point, I've only ever done yoga in a class or with a video - in other words, doing exactly what someone tells me to do. While I'm eager to learn as much as I can from the teachers at the studio, eventually I'll need to establish my own routines. The Heart of Yoga was recommended by one instructor so I figured I'd try it.
I was hoping for a book that would provide a suitable sequence of poses (asana) but Desikachar's work offers a much broader overview of yoga. In fact, most of the book isn't about the physical exercises at all. The breathing, the contortions and the meditation are all a gateway to a healthier approach to life. The author defines yoga's purpose as "to attain what was previously unattainable" and that purpose runs deeper than merely being able to hold the bridge pose longer than you could before. Yoga helps us to see the world more clearly.
The Heart of Yoga thoroughly examines the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of the practice. Much of the text is in Q&A format so it feels like a conversation between teacher and student. In Part III, Desikachar presents the Yoga Sutra line by line in both Sanskrit and English transliteration, followed by his own commentary. Part IV contains poetry by yogi T. Krishnamacharya. All of this is far more than I expected. I'm glad to know all of the background but was eager for something more practical.
Fortunately, there are four suggested practice sequences in the appendix. Throughout, Desikachar stresses the importance of working with a teacher. But between the book and the more or less weekly classes, I think I have enough to get started. The rest of the text, I hope, will prove a meaningful reference in the future.