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The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living

Stephen Cope, Author
Stephen Cope, Author . Bantam $25 (316p) ISBN 978-0-553-80111-8
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-553-38054-5
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Psychotherapist and longtime resident teacher at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass., Cope applies the compassionate insights made in his book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self , to this guide to the Yogasutra. Attributed to Patanjali, a second-century sage, the Yogasutra barely mentions the physical postures now identified as yoga. But the 196 trenchant entries, scholars say, contain the body of wisdom gleaned by those who sought, through direct experience, the inner workings of body, mind and spirit. This wisdom tradition (raja yoga), Cope says, is as effective today in diagnosing and healing "ordinary unhappiness" as it was centuries ago. Drawing parallels between ancient yogis and Buddhists and Western theologians, philosophers and poets, Cope argues that the yogis uncovered the roots of fear, illusion and self-deception. He focuses on the eight limbs of yoga (ethical behaviors, disciplines, postures, breathing practices, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and enlightenment) to demonstrate their effects in the lives of modern practitioners. Readers will readily identify with at least one of the challenges discussed —be they failed relationships, dysfunctional families, unrealized ambitions and compulsive behaviors. Beginners will find it helpful to read the Yogasutra, provided in an appendix, before diving into the personal stories and Cope's sympathetic commentaries. (June)

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