cover image Power Yoga: The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout

Power Yoga: The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout

Beryl Bender Birch. Fireside Books, $17 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-02-058351-6

This book is intended for people who seek or possess a vigorous, disciplined approach to physical conditioning and mind-body integration. Birch, wellness director and yoga teacher-in-residence of the New York Road Runners Club, is an athlete and a teacher of athletes. ``Sports,'' she says, ``don't get us into shape. In fact, sports get us out of shape.'' Birch teaches astanga yoga, a rigorous series of positions that flow into one another in a prescribed order, linked by breath and awareness; the author claims that athletes can counteract, heal and prevent injury, tightness and misalignment through committed astanga yoga practice. Here she also introduces the philosophy of yoga to newcomers. She has a light touch, and treats us to autobiographical narrative, as well. Birch offers detailed cautions and adaptations for various levels of strength and flexibility. Both she and the yoga tradition speak to the importance of being yourself. Nonetheless, some readers may find Power Yoga narrowly prescriptive or severe. However, Birch's credibility supports her passionate advocacy. This is an important book for the yoga community, as well: a thoughtful exposition of one of several major yoga movements that have developed from the work of Krishnamacharya, one of this century's great yogis. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)