Foreword Reviews

The Stories Behind the Poses

The Indian Mythology That Inspired 50 Yoga Postures

The Stories Behind the Poses captures the wisdom, beauty, and power of ancient Indian mythology to deepen and enlighten the practice of yoga.

Fifty common yoga poses are paired with classic tales from Vedic mythology, shared with rich detail and spiritual insight. Stunning, bold illustrations capture the elements of each pose, along with features of the related myth. The stories are beautiful and self-contained, and are relayed with the belief that such stories “need to be told and retold, heard, and remembered.”

With subtle Eastern discernment, the text and illustrations inspire profound meditation and reflection. Shiva, the lord of yogis and god of destruction, presides over many tales. The cobra pose, for instance, harnesses the story where he holds and neutralizes the venom of the primordial ocean in his throat, turning his throat blue and reflecting the potential for yoga to contain and clear negative emotions: “Having been purified of its dreadful poisons like a mind freed of toxic perceptions, or like a heart unburdened by malignant emotion, the ocean began to flow more freely, cooperating with the forces acting upon it.”

The storytelling is brilliant at intermingling allegorical and emotional truths to enhance the practice of yoga. The swan pose, for instance, reflects the “deep learning and artistry” of the goddess Sarasvati, while the lotus pose captures the boundless “light incarnate” associated with Laksmi, the goddess of fertility, artistry, and abundance. The half-moon pose aligns with the story of Candra, the handsome and charming moon god who is cursed to follow the oscillating cycle of waxing and waning after he neglects the needs of his wives, the daughters of Daksa.

Demonstrating the power of ancient myths to mirror and dramatize the complexity of one’s inner life, The Stories Behind the Poses shares a unique, commanding perspective that will enrich any yoga practice.

Reviewed by Kristen Rabe

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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