Hatha Yoga Illustrated is a comprehensive manual of basic hatha yoga poses, providing lots of clear color photographs and instructions for over 70 common poses and their variations/modifications. It includes information regarding benefits of the various poses, suggested counter-poses and contraindications, which can be very useful for those with injuries and/or health concerns.
There are several photographs for each posture including common variations with detailed instructions for obtaining proper alignment as well as directions for coming into and out of the poses safely and with awareness. It's written in a very practical, user-friendly style that is clear and easy to understand making it a perfect guide for beginners and on-going reference book for more experienced yoga practitioners.
Chapter one provides a brief overview of yoga including some background and history, yogic breathing, how to use yoga props, where and when to practice and some meditation basics. But Hatha Yoga Illustrated really isn't about yoga philosophy, it's about yoga poses.
The remainder of the book - chapters 2 through 10 -- is a step-by-step guide to the poses that are grouped according to the following categories:
- Standing Postures
- Balancing Postures
- Arm-Balancing Postures
- Inverted Postures
- Backward-Bending Postures
- Twisting Postures
- Forward-Bending Postures
- Sitting Postures
- Reclining and Relaxation Postures
The last chapter outlines eleven useful hatha yoga routines, or sequences of postures for helping you link them together in various home practice workouts. Two indexes are provided at the back of the book: a photographic index by English name and alphabetic index by Sanskrit (ancient yogic language) name. Helpful resources including a list of yoga schools and sources for yoga props and clothing also are provided.
Hatha Yoga Illustrated would be extremely helpful as a standalone book for getting oriented to many common yoga poses or a great accompaniment to your DVD collection to clarify poses you have questions about.