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Yoga for Warriors

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About the Author

Beryl Bender Birch Beryl Bender Birch is the bestselling author of Power Yoga, Beyond Power Yoga, and Boomer Yoga; she is also one of the most popular yoga teachers in the United States. With degrees in philosophy and comparative religion, Beryl has been teaching the classical system of ashtanga yoga for 33 years, and training yoga teachers as "spiritual revolutionaries" since 1980. In 2000 she was named by Yoga Journal as one of their "Innovators Shaping Yoga Today" issue. Beryl majored in philosophy and comparative religion at Syracuse University. She took her first yoga class in 1971 in California. She then spent several years on the West Coast working as a biofeedback researcher and studying the physiology of meditation. One of her early teachers was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Tibetan Buddhist who founded Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, as well as Shambhala International. Her other important teacher was Munishree Chitrabhanuhu, the first Jain monk to leave India and come to the United States at the invitation of Harvard Divinity School. These two men shaped her life, her meditation practice, and her teaching style. In 1974, Beryl began to teach yoga and meditation to skiers in Winter Park, Colorado, working with both professional and recreational skiers. In 1980, she moved to New York City and was introduced to the practice of ashtanga yoga by Norman Allen. Allen was Sri K. Pattabhi Jois's first American student and the first Westerner to master the ashtanga series and bring it to the United States. In 1981, Beryl began teaching ashtanga yoga to runners at the prestigious New York Road Runners Club, and eventually she became the club's wellness director. Beryl and her husband Thom, a world-class runner, pioneered the introduction of yoga to the traditional athletic community. Together Beryl and Thom taught the ashtanga yoga method of asana, pranayama, and dharana (concentration) to tens of thousands of students. In the late '80s, Beryl was searching for a way to make ashtanga yoga more accessible to American students, and she coined the term "power yoga" (nearly simultaneously, Bryan Kest, based in Los Angeles, came up with the same term.) The words "power yoga" convey the distinction between the intense, flowing style of yoga Beryl and Thom were teaching from the gentle stretching and meditation that many Americans associated with yoga. Power yoga is a vigorous, fitness-based approach to yoga. In 1987, Beryl traveled to Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena, Montana, to meet and study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the principle proponent of the ashtanga yoga vinyasa method, and the teacher with whom Norman Allen had studied. Beryl and Thom spent the next six months studying daily with Jois and following his tour of California. They continued their studies with Pattabhi Jois from 1987-1990. Beryl is the founder and director of The Hard & the Soft Yoga Institute (since 1980) in East Hampton and Vermont, and a founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation. She now teaches yoga--the Middle Path of Jina Yoga (incorporating the classical astanga eight-limbed methodology)--all over the world, guiding and inspiring students of all levels with her down-to-earth style. She currently writes the asana column for Yoga Journal. She resides in East Hampton with her six racing Siberian huskies, and she competes on the New England Sled Dog Club circuit of sprint races in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire.


"Follow these instructions and you'll soon see that this isn't your mother's yoga. No slack. You have to work, but the results will be quickly evident. You can't help but feel better. Yoga works. Keep charging." --Tom Steffens, Rear Admiral, US Navy (Ret), Former Navy SEAL "Yoga is increasingly being used to complement traditional evidence-based treatments for war-related health concerns. This book makes yoga more accessible to service members and veterans, and adds another valuable tool to a warrior's transition toolkit." --Charles W. Hoge, MD, Colonel, US Army (Ret), author of Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior "Yoga for Warriors makes the therapeutic experience of yoga accessible to those living with the wounds of war. Beryl's book should be at the top of the reading list for warriors who wish to take an active role in restoring their health and well-being." --JoAnn Difede, PhD, director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies, Weill Cornell Medical College "Yoga for Warriors is a wonderful book for both the intended military personnel or, really, for anyone. Beryl Bender Birch covers numerous yoga poses and positions with detailed descriptions and photos. A number of war traumas are common among military people and the regular practice of yoga will likely help alleviate or overcome these. The author describes the thirteen main benefits of yoga practice and explains the all-important breathing, focusing and mindful awareness and your goal of connecting mind and body. The author's demonstrators show poses in standard and advanced positions, and often also with an easier version. The excellent photo illustrations are full-page black-and-white pictures and the accompanying descriptions give good instructions." --San Francisco Book Review, George Erdosh "Birch's book, Yoga for Warriors, is near-genius in that it is geared specifically to those in the military and to vets suffering from PTS (she has dropped the D, believing that it is a physiological condition affecting every aspect of the body's functioning, as opposed to a stress-related "disorder"). Instead of using buff-bodied models, the author wisely chose 'real people' you could easily imagine in uniform. And the directions are so clear, simple and logical that even a total newcomer would find them easy to follow. For trickier asanas, Birch even pictures the wrong way to do a pose, alongside the correct way, so users can see the difference...All of which makes this book also perfect for tough guys who think yoga is for wimps, seniors getting a late start on yoga, or anyone not knowing where to begin." --Whole Life Magazine

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