Week ending March 8, 2013
Catoméris, Basile P. Foundations of Yoga: The Traditional Teachings of Sri Shyam Sundar Goswami. Inner Traditions. 2012. 160p. index. ISBN 9781594774546. pap. $14.95. HEALTH
Master yoga teacher Catoméris presents a detailed summary of the foundation, philosophy, and practice of yoga as taught by the late Sri Shyam Sundar Goswami, one of the foremost authorities on classical Hatha yoga. From an ancient and modern perspective, Catoméris explains how the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual aspects of yoga must all work together for holistic Hatha yoga practice. To that end, he discusses exercises that will strengthen and purify the body, control respiration and the senses, master mental concentration, and revitalize sexual energy. Many of the exercises are advanced, and readers are cautioned to perform them under the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced teacher. The ethical rules (yama) and self-regulation (niyama) are also clearly explained.
Verdict Some people practice Hatha yoga as a form of gentle aerobic exercise. This book is recommended for those who want to move beyond a perfunctory level. Catoméris draws from Goswami’s definitive text Advanced Hatha Yoga: Classic Methods of Physical Education and Concentration, which is a detailed manual of high-level physical and physiological strengthening exercises. In the spirit of his predecessor, Catoméris offers an excellent synthesis of the ancient science of yoga that will help guide serious aspirants on their journey toward a healthy body and peaceful mind.—Ajoke Kokodoko, Oakland P.L.
Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2013. 454p. ed. by TJ Hindrichs & Linda L. Barnes. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674047372. $45. MED
Hinrichs (history, Cornell Univ.) and Barnes (medical anthropology, Boston Univ. Sch. of Medicine) assembled contributions from 58 interdisciplinary international scholars to produce a rich history of Chinese medicine across 3,000 years. Illustrations, historical documents, and short biographies of transformational figures enliven the topical narratives. Concluding sections examine the current state of Chinese medicine that has spread throughout the world. Contributors describe a distinctive medical culture that began with shamanism, followed by the practices of ancient sages such as the Yellow Emperor, who portrayed health as the result of harmony of the individual with his or her ancestors, children, society, and nature. Disharmony was thought to result in disruptions in the flow of qi (vital energy) throughout the body. Such disharmonies produced illnesses, requiring religious ritual and special diets, exercises, medicines, and, eventually, techniques such as acupuncture. Though ancient traditions were respected, Chinese medicine was never static, and conquests and assimilations of neighboring cultures wrought changes, particularly after Western medical knowledge and practice diffused throughout China in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Verdict Although the book’s patchwork of articles of various lengths does not yield a smooth narrative, it is nonetheless an authoritative and encyclopedic compilation that should be of great interest to specialists in a variety of scholarly fields.—Kathleen Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL
Freund, Richard A. Digging Through History: Archaeology and Religion from Atlantis to the Holocaust. Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. 252p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442208827. $39. ARCHAEOL
Modern archaeological fieldwork is conducted by teams of specialists from disciplines such as history, linguistics, art, and geophysics. Here Freund (Digging Through the Bible) discusses the various far-flung projects he’s been involved in over the past few decades that exemplify this multidisciplinary approach. He first explores the role of archaeology in telling the history of civilizations; next he focuses on a site off the Iberian Peninsula that is now thought to be Atlantis. The third chapter concerns the Dead Sea Scrolls and their power to influence modern religious theology; the fourth chapter deals with recently examined synagogues in Spain that indicate that Jewish people played a vital role in medieval Spanish society; and the final chapter examines Sobibor extermination camp in Poland. While Freund does take us on a fascinating journey, his higher goal is to look for the “unseen hands” that have woven each thread into the human tapestry. Freund reasons that, if understood, these patterns uncovered by archaeology can impel us to make better decisions and avoid the mistakes of the past. Especially cogent are the maps of Atlantis and of Sobibor, two decidedly different sites separated by an ocean of time, but their cartographic similarity is striking.
Verdict Freund’s work is recommended to any reader interested in how archaeology is carried out and the way that patterns are discernible in human history.—Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM
Lee, Cyndi. May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind. Dutton. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780525953845. $25.95. HEALTH
Despite international renown as a Buddhist-inspired yoga teacher, Lee (Yoga Body, Buddha Mind) experiences suffering just as we all do. In this heartfelt memoir, she reflects on hating her body—an all too common problem. Lee examines how her dance career, her relationship with her mother, and other life events affected her body image and in turn how it impacted her marriage. Honestly, and at times provocatively, she describes her journey toward remembering her basic goodness and finding contentment with her physical appearance. Woven into the narrative are first-person vignettes of Lee teaching her students. Her style is a beautifully accessible blend of Buddhist mindfulness practices and yoga asana. Guided by wise women (actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Christiane Northrup, self-help guru Louise Hay, various Buddhist teachers, friends, and herself), Lee remembers the truth: that we are all perfect and there is nothing wrong with us.
Verdict Lee’s writing matches her teaching style: patient, melodic, and straightforward. Yoga students of all levels and abilities will learn from the simple, profound lessons in this book.—Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ. Lib., Scranton, PA
Ryan, Amy F. Shot: Staying Alive with Diabetes. Hudson Whitman. 2013. 230p. ISBN 9780976881353. pap. $17.95. HEALTH
Ryan was a fit and healthy 29-year-old when a routine urinalysis at her gynecologist’s office revealed sugar in her urine. After a repeat yeast infection within two weeks of treatment, she made another appointment with her doctor. This time they took a blood sample and gave Ryan the news that would change her life forever: she had Type-1 diabetes. In her first published book, covering the path from receiving her diagnosis to learning to read glucose meters and self-administering insulin shots, Ryan details a deeply personal journey rather than an objective self-care manual for diabetes. While there are no references or fact-lists, there is well-developed narrative of one woman’s experience with a life-altering diagnosis.
Verdict The author’s transparency into her own story of diabetes is courageous and informative. This memoir is a moving read that will appeal to young women and diabetes sufferers alike.—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA
Wilkinson, Sylvia. The Stainless Steel Carrot: An Auto Racing Odyssey—Revisited. Brown Fox Bks. 2012. 368p. photogs. ISBN 9781888978155. $46. SPORTS
Sports car racing in the early 1970s offered grave danger and small financial reward. In 1971 and 1972, Wilkinson was granted access to the Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) team led by former Carroll Shelby employee Peter Brock and driver John Morton. While interviewing key players in the racing scene—drivers, owners, mechanics—and following Morton’s championship races of 1971 and 1972, Wilkinson told these men’s stories, complete with petty bickering, bad behavior, and complaints about teammates and rivals. This updated edition of the resulting long-out-of-print 1973 book has more photographs and a substantial additional chapter in which Wilkinson updates the lives of the principals she covered and the changes to the sport in the ensuing decades. The two most notable improvements in road racing have been in car and track safety and data gathering: the number of racing fatalities is reduced. Many of Wilkinson’s original interviewees regretted their earlier candid and not always flattering remarks about rival drivers and teammates that made the original edition such a fascinating read. Driver Morton also points out that if he had wanted to make money in racing he would have gotten into NASCAR or Formula One.
Verdict Wilkinson writes about the sport with the grit that readers would expect from the drivers. For sports car racing fans, this updated version is as fun as a day at the track.—Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI