Tag Archives: Review

A New Translation of Selected Poems by Rumi

I received a copy of this book for review, I was not compensated and all opinions expressed are my own.  Some material for this post was provided by the publisher.



A New Translation of Selected Poems

By Farrukh Dhondy

“Farrukh Dhondy conveys to us Rumi as a universal poet and thinker and captures in verse the spirit of Rumi’s philosophy in an authentic fashion often missed by some of the modern interpreters of Rumi. His introduction gives us an overview of the essential message of Sufism and its relevance to the modern world.” —Mahmood Jamal, author of Islamic Mystical Poetry

“Transcendent yet simple, Rumi’s words—in this exquisite translation by Farrukh Dhondy—forever remain the anchor of the human condition.”—Mira Nair

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim spiritual leader and Sufi mystic, has won such a following in the United States that a few years ago he became our bestselling poet. But the translations that have popularized his work have given it a sort of post-hippie, New Age appeal, straying from its essence. Rumi: A New Translation (Arcade Publishing, May 2013) by Farrukh Dhondy seeks to recover both the lyrical beauty and the spiritual essence of the original verse.

In poems of love and devotion, rapture and suffering, loss and yearning for oneness, Dhondy has rediscovered Rumi as a poet of spiritual awakening whose quest is the key to his universal appeal. As the poet Ruth Pradel points out, Dhondy takes pains to “reflect Rumi’s antiquity and traditional poetics, as well as his lively and often humorous take on life . . . . This is a labor of love.” In this new translation Dhondy offers Rumi as at once a great poet of love, both human and divine, and the authentic voice of a moderate Islam—a voice that can resonate in today’s turbulent times.

About the Authors

Rumi was born in 1207 in Vakhsh in the province of Balkh (now in Tajikistan) to a family of learned Persian Muslim theologians. He founded the Malawi Sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam. Rumi’s masterpiece, the Mathnawi, has been called the “Koran in Persian.” He died in 1273 in Konya in present-day Turkey.

Farrukh Dhondy is a London-based writer, screenwriter, playwright, and activist of Indian Parsi descent. He has published novels and short stories, written screenplays for Bollywood, and been a commissioning editor at TV4 in the UK. In 2012, he celebrated the opening of his opera based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.

Before my sojourn into yoga I had no idea who Rumi was and stayed fairly ignorant until I started purchasing greeting cards for my studio.  Although Rumi is tweeted on a daily basis in Twitter feeds most people probably are not aware of this poet, though he did gain mention in an episode of Bones and you don’t get more mainstream than American TV.  This translation is one of many that have been made over the years.  I am not a historian or well versed in Rumi, Sufi poetry, but this translation and selection of poems is definitely a far cry from those select tidbits that get tweeted regarding love and longing, fulfillment and friendship.  The book is tidy, short selections displayed elegantly and what I found to enjoy is the meter and rhyme to the translations.  Yes, I grew up on Dr.Seuss and enjoy poetry when it rhymes and has rhythm – interpret that as you will.  If you are a true scholar the Q&A in the back of the book with the author may upset you.  He admits to his Persian being “non-existent” and basing his translations of of the lyrics of mega pop stars which may be why there is less of a “sagely” feel to this reading. I’m sure after reading others’ reviews online that those who are enraptured with Rumi would not be huge fans of this translation, but I have learned that everyone has an entry point. 

When I teach a yoga class that is more physical and less esoteric or spiritual it still reaches my students.  Something happens to them, even if it merely exists on the physical plane.  That knowledge had the potential to awaken a deeper desire for more learning.  This translation may just be a catalyst to ease people into the deeper, literal translations of a far more existential body of work. You never know whose life you touch and how you may touch it.

Most Comprehensive Yoga for Children Book Great for Parents and Teachers

image001 I received a copy of this book for review and was not compensated, all opinions expressed are my own.

Children today are bombarded by stimuli coming from every direction—technology, work duties, and pressure to succeed in every aspect of life—academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Studies have shown that children, like adults, need the time to reconnect and recharge, building the self-awareness and resiliency they need to succeed and be healthy.

Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT, Founder of ChildLight Yoga® and Yoga 4 Classrooms®, has created a helpful resource for educators, parents, and pediatric professionals who wish to give the children in their care the gift of holistic health, through the use of yoga and mindfulness-based tools for living: Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children (Adams Media, an F+W Media company, Spring 2013).

As a long-time yoga practitioner, Founder of Yoga 4 Classrooms®, and a parent herself, Lisa knows firsthand how incorporating yoga into one’s lifestyle can lead to health benefits that go well beyond the physical. “The good news is that yoga overrides the stress response, short circuiting the fight-or-flight hormones. That’s true for both adults and children. When we do yoga, we learn tools for self-regulation and stress resilience as we develop mental and physical focus, strength, balance, flexibility, and overall health.”

I really wasn’t sure that the yoga community needed another children’s yoga book, but I have to admit I loved this book and will be selling several of my other kids’ yoga books and keeping this one instead. Why? First, I am trying to declutter my overall life a very yogic idea but hard to manage in a family of five filled with never ending clutter. Second, we are moving so I have limited myself to one tub of books from my extensive collection so I need to become more discerning with my collection. Third, this book literally combines several of my favorite children’s yoga books in one place, but does so in a new and refreshing way.

The book starts by debunking yoga myths – as is typical of every book – yoga is not a religion, this one I beg to differ on but that is for a time when I can sit down and really delve deep. There is a large amount of type to this book, it is not a picture book but at the same time it is not a dry read. There are great sections on how to get started with little tips like “how to make a no sew eye pillow” that incorporates the idea of upcycling materials to create a whole new and usable product.

The yoga principles are broken down in digestible portions easily explainable to children with suggested readings and books, examples and practices.  There are two wonderful chapters on image003breathwork (pranayama) and meditation for children with actual practices that would work for younger yogis.  The asanas were translated for the most part from Sanskrit, but a few were still made up, I personally prefer to work with the given classical name and maybe a cutesy name in parenthesis. At least the names were cute though.

The chapter with chants and songs was a nice addition especially when well known tunes were referenced for use.  The sequences had bold photos and my overall favorite part were the co-operative team building games.  After a decade teaching I still find it hard to locate team skill, team co-operation building “ropes course” like games.

Truly this a well thought out, well written book aimed at parents but definitely invaluable to teachers looking to utilize yoga in the classroom or studio.

Yoga Wisdom at Work Can Help You Create a More Productive Career

k4716916 I received a review copy of this book, I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are my own.

I honestly did not think I was going to enjoy this book.  It started like every self-indulgent yoga book on the market does, “I was making a ton of money and felt incomplete…I found yoga….I’m writing about my my transformation…you can transform too!”  For once I would like to story of my life to unfold.  I always knew yoga was what I wanted to teach, I taught it and owned a studio for tens years.  I made no money, met some nice people, met some really not nice people, lost a lot of money trying to help people and now I am changing careers. 

Well, you can see I am a little jaded at the moment, but I still opened up the book and read past the introduction which was all that I had feared it would be and I was surprised.  I really enjoyed what I was reading and it made sense. Maren and Jamie Showkeir’s book brings into focus yoga’s rich, transformational benefits. Based on the traditional Eight Limbs of Yoga it offers straightforward, practical suggestions on how to integrate yoga’s ancient philosophy and beautiful spiritual principles into the modern workplace.

The Showkeirs know firsthand how yoga’s wisdom can make work—and life—more rewarding and worthwhile. They explain each of yoga’s tenets and show how a broad, steadfast practice leads to a productive, creative, and energizing work environment. The book offers illuminating stories from people in professions such as banking, law enforcement, film directing, education, and more. These living examples illustrate how yoga’s teachings reduce stress and increase meaning and satisfaction at work, they are also just what I personally love.  I like a little voyeurism, a peek into someone else’s life when I read.  The stories hit home, they make the process seem more real and meaningful, they do their job.

The Showkeirs believe passionately that a physical practice alone will barely scratch the surface of yoga’s transformative powers. Much more than a simple how-to book, Yoga Wisdom at Work is an invitation to use the Eight Limbs to cultivate the spark of the divine that dwells within each of us. Yoga’s precepts offer you the keys for staying centered, compassionate, positive, and sane every hour of the day—including from nine to five. This is a big divergence from most books that deal only with the physical practice of yoga.  As a yoga teacher I can attest that most individuals want to focus on the physical asanas, barely scraping the surface of the real meaning and power of yoga.  This book definitely delves deeper.  It doesn’t give you a list of asanas to perform, it challenges you to create a more flexible mind and to open up to new ways of thinking.

Insights revealed in Yoga Wisdom at Work:
·      Practicing the precepts contained within yoga’s First Limb have a direct influence on your chances for succeeding at work: non-violence, non-lying, non-squandering of vital energies and non-greed.
·      Practicing influences how you treat others at work. For example, practicing non-violence (ahimsa) increases awareness of destructive behaviors like gossip, manipulation, lack of compassion for your coworkers. It also helps you spot more subtle forms of disrespect, such as ignoring people you don’t like, shutting down others’ ideas, or making decisions that affect the jobs and lives of others without their input.
·      Satya, the non-lying precept, is the foundation of trust. Practicing satya includes speaking up and contributing your ideas and concerns about work decisions to contribute to business u26950682 success. 

·      Dealing with resistance is one way to practice of ishvara-pranidhana—it will help you align your actions with what is best for the business rather than focus only on what is good for your career, your team, your department.
·      Learning to harness the power of your breath through the yoga practice of pranayama can create clarity and focus, boost your energy when it’s flagging, or calm you down when situations get heated.
Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir are the principals of henning-showkeir & associates, inc., a workplace consulting firm. Maren, a certified yoga teacher, has been a committed practitioner for more than fifteen years. Jamie is a longtime meditator and developed an asana practice in 2005. They are the coauthors of Authentic Conversations: Moving from Manipulation to Truth and Commitment.

Publication date: May 2013, $15.95, paperback, 192 pages, 5½" x 8½", ISBN 978-1-60994-797-2
PDF ebook, ISBN 978-1-60994-8

Pregnancy Health Yoga Book Explores Bump, Birth and Beyond


I was contacted to review this new book that is out in March.  I received no compensation and all opinions expressed are my own and given freely.

Let me start by saying I wasn’t impressed by the introduction that states you can start the book after your “12-14 weeks scan” after clearance from your
“doctor”.  I was under the impression that the UK was more midwife friendly, in turn meaning less intervention friendly and anyone into gentle natural birth I had assumed would keep propaganda such as this out of their book when a simple, “12-14 weeks pregnant” and “care provider” would suffice.

With the introduction out of the way I could focus on the bulk of the book which was very impressive.  Full color photos accompanied many if not all of the postures, each section started with affirmations for the expectant mother (something I have become very fond of in my own practice) and very detailed instructions.  I was familiar with all of the postures and found them to be well explained.  With any book you can always find subjective points to take issue with.  As I have progressed as a yoga teacher and doula over the last decade I have been made aware of some flaws in my past thinking and teaching.  One such flaw that I had was the need for all pregnant women at all times of pregnancy to “tuck the tailbone under” as shown on page 54.  After a recent training in prenatal education an interesting point was brought up about birth position, fetal position and pregnancy posture.  The optimal birth position is a supported squat that allows the tailbone to move away from the pubis and create space for the baby’s head.  Too much tucking during pregnancy can have a deleterious effect on what is actually a natural change in the body.  Weight does shift forward and create a slight anterior pelvic tilt for a reason, to place baby in the optimal birth position. I agree that lengthening the spine can alleviate lower back compression, but pregnant women should not worry about tucking the tailbone all the time unless they are experiencing pain symptoms.

I also thought the example on page 105 of leaning into the hands could be a little too much for some moms to handle.  The women in the photo is in a pose similar to ustrasana (camel pose) by the last frame, a more appropriate pose that would lessen the compression of the lower back that you can visibly see would be a tabletop (shown in the postnatal section) with the hips lifted, knees bent, feet on the floor firmly – it would accomplish the task of “leaning into the hands” without the possibility of overstretching the ligaments and bands in the front.  Sadly I speak from experience on this one, I do not recommend anything close to back bending unless it is fully supported during pregnancy.

After more than a decade teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga I have not found a more complete and user friendly guide than Pregnancy Health Yoga.  After baby there is a small postnatal section in the back of the book. It also comes with a 30 minute supplemental restorative yoga DVD that follows the outline provided by the book. You can use this to help you better visualize what the book outlines, or to prep you for your first prenatal yoga class. Had I not been a yoga instructor during all three of my pregnancies I would have definitely enjoyed a book such as this, it even contains brief “birth stories” in the margins.

Lee and Attwood have created this accessible guide and DVD of key practices that takes moms-to-be through every stage of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.  They explain breath work and provide guided meditations and visualizations; illustrated step-by-step routines; a directory of postures that target common pregnancy-related ailments; and exercises to get back in shape after giving birth. This is a definite baby shower gift or congratulations on your pregnancy announcement present.

Childcare Workers, Parents, Teachers Creative Yoga for Children can Help get Kids Active

image I started my yoga career as a children’s yoga teacher, after leaving the academic teaching world behind.  Over the years I have taught yoga to children in varied environments and have often times considered the undertaking of writing a book outlining lesson plans.  With this background I was excited to be offered a review copy of Creative Yoga for Children by Adrienne Rawlinson.

If you were not aware, a recent study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improves students’ behavior, physical health, academic performance, and attitudes toward themselves. A perfect resource for schools seeking to incorporate yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculum, or for parents to encourage body-mind awareness at home, Creative Yoga for Children promotes physical, emotional, and social development through stress reduction, movement, and free exploration.
Montessori and registered yoga teacher Adrienne Rawlinson presents forty one-hour lessons in a fun, accessible fashion to allow children ages 4–12 to learn at their own pace and in a cross-curriculum fashion. Activities are broken down by age categories, and each includes setting an intention, physical warm-ups, breath work, specific yoga poses, meditation and gratitude exercises, and more.

This book is a cornucopia of ideas and I love the variety of lesson plans given.  I especially appreciate the objectives (intention) and educational elements sections as a teacher.  Although many of my classes are taught without these, when I teach in environments that receive federal money for education programming many of them require objectives and educational elements to be outlined.  Truly, even with my decade of experience teaching yoga I could not have written a more complete book.  Many of the lessons were similar to ones I myself already teach, but there were definitely some new ones I had not thought of and elements added in that I have not explored, such as using “cardboard letters” in a 4-6 year old lesson on words and sounds.  For those new to teaching yoga, or new to working with kids the developmental breakdowns are definitely useful.  There is nothing worse than showing up to a class expecting 12 year olds to moo and meow with you through cow and cat pose and get a sea of blank (or even worse horrified) pre-teen faces staring back at you from their mats.

Q. Your book is broken down into three age groups (4–6, 7–9, 10–12). What is the significance of starting at age 4? Is there a benefit to starting earlier or is this the earliest age for kids to become actively engaged with yoga?

A. The program offered in my book is quite structured and I have observed that children under the age of four benefit more from a yoga routine that is more playful, and they are developmentally often not ready for a structured one hour class. However, they are not too young to be introduced to the world of yoga. I have two and a half year olds in my Montessori class who love to do a few minutes of yoga every day, choosing pose cards from a basket to do on a mat by themselves or with a friend. Babies and toddlers can reap the benefits of yoga and there are many age appropriate
programs out there. Setting the stage for a lifetime of yoga benefits really starts at birth.

The Appendixes provide a list of books to use, craft idea, photos of partner poses, and then a list of poses broken down into groupings (such as mammals, sea life, etc). Here is where I always break away from authors, especially of children’s yoga books.  Almost all of the asanas are already named after animals or their movement.  The tale being that the yogic sages observed nature around them and this is how the poses were named (ie: downward dog, peacock, cobra).  For preservation and integrity purposes (both culture and physiological) I see no reason to create new names for poses, or rename poses that already have an apropos name. This is just a pet peeve of mine and by no way should it keep readers from purchasing this outstanding book.

Rawlinson provides a wonderful backdrop for teachers and parents to create their own fun and integrative yoga practice for the children in their lives.  But what if you are afraid of the chaos that could ensue after starting this undertaking? The author provides a great bit of sound advice, so now there is no reason to fail to introduce the children in your life to yoga!

Q. How do you bring focus back when kids get distracted in class?

A. The children sometimes get very boisterous and silly when doing some of the group activities and games, so it is important that I have an effective way of bringing them back to center and calm them, so they are ready for the next part of the class. I usually introduce chimes, a Tibetan singing bowl, or a special gong of some sort at the beginning of class. I ring it to let them know that they should come back to their mats, sit in their favorite sitting pose, and get ready to listen. They are generally wonderful at responding to this.

About the Author:
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Adrienne Rawlinson is a certified Montessori teacher and registered
yoga teacher. She studied yoga under Maureen Rae in Toronto and Erich Schiffmann in Chicago. Knowing that she wanted to
offer the gift of yoga to children, she put together her program, drawing from her yoga and Montessori teaching experience, and
she began offering afterschool and weekend workshops to children in her area. She currently teaches Montessori and yoga in
Oakville, Ontario.

I received no compensation for this post, the opinions expressed are my own, some material was provided by a third party.

Juil Shoe Launch Will Ground You to Your Soles and Energize You



You read that right Juil is launching its shoe line with natural energy shoes that will ground you to the earth. Long lauded benefits of barefoot walking and barefoot emulating shoes have left individuals like me with achy feet, hurting toes and no support. Stop killing your feet and instead embrace them with this new technology from Juil.

Energy Flow Technology™ (compound copper conductors) directly through the footbed and outsole of the sandals of Juils offer a direct conduit between our bodies and the earth’s surface. You are able to go about your day, in comfort, while heeding the earth’s reviving electrons necessary to sustain healthy, stable lives. Connect yourself to mother earth today.

Readers know that I am the last person to invest in fads.  I was one of the first people to point out the ridiculousness of toning sneakers and their danger before the lawsuits, and to point out the danger of wheel based shoes to children before scientific articles came out revealing the same information.  So you can imagine I would be highly skeptical of these earth grounding shoes.  In fact, when I was contacted to review them I thought they were just shoes.  From the moment I unpacked them I could tell they were something different.

The box, the yoga mat bag lovingly wrapped around the shoes, and the shoes themselves made me take notice.  I chose to review the Copenhagens because I have never found a clog I could wear and I am in desperate need of a good slip on.  As I mentioned, I also have low arches. I unpacked my Juil Copenhagens and slipped them on since that point there has been no taking them off, except for sleep.  My podiatrist recommended finding a good slipper or shoe to wear around the house to combat arch and baby toe pain and I have used these for just this purpose.  You can see the soft rolls in the front and back of the shoe that pad the top of the foot and back of the heel – they are heavenly. My one complaint is that the shoes are a little too loose for me.  I requested a size 9 as that is what I wear in Nikes, the shoes I lived in until I found Juil.  When I walk, the heels lift up and my toes slide across the copper inserts.  This is fine in a thicker sock but barefoot or thin socked it causes a rough action that is abrasive. I believe this is solely because the shoe is 1/2 size too big and not a flaw in the design.  I would love the Copenhagen to come in more colors as well.  Currently there is black and camel.  The black is so multi-functional though this could be the only pair of shoes you own.  I have worn these with dress slacks, jeans, yoga pants, you name it.I love the convenience of fast slip on and off!


Juil is connecting you to the earth, now connect with them via Twitter, and Facebook to find out what is going on with this local Wisconsin business!

My Favorite New Mystery Series by @Talexander and Holiday Gift from @Levenger

imageThis year my husband got it VERY right for Hanukah. Although he still did not wrap my gift I can forgive that because he bought me THE bed lounger.  I know it may look like one of those typical college campus pieces of furniture but I assure you it isn’t.  Where the department store bed pillows leave you cramped and smooshed while reading, not keeping their shape, this pillow has a lumbar support insert, supportive arms and an adjustable neck pillow. Now you can find this pillow on several websites but the one he purchased from and the least expensive is Levenger.com. You can visit other sites and find a matching leg pillow for $90 but honestly any pillow under the knees does the job while reading. I also received a gift card with the lounger that I assume was a deal with purchase though iy is possible it really was “from the kids”.  I used that to buy my second favorite thing from Levenger – The Thai Pad! And it was on sale with a Thai Pad Mini – I love things in miniature.

With my new pillow for reading all I needed was something to read.  Sadly, my last favorite series has no new books – I’ll post about that one later.  So I decided to take a look at the online catalog and search Historical Fiction genre.  I love historical fictions as they give me the romance and suspense that other fictions do, but without the guilt of reading “romance” novels because of the historical angle.  I always feel as though I am learning something and connecting to history. If history textbooks were written from the point of view of actual individuals I probably would have fared far better in history class. 

I found one of my favorite – a female heroine point of view mystery, set in Victorian times.  Enter Lady Emily Ashton, a young widow who solves the mysterious death of her husband and meets some colorful characters in the course of her investigation (if a Victorian would deem it acceptable to call it that).  I am a pushover for continuity and the books in the series all have ties to each other. I love books that actually follow a chronology, though you could read them out of order I suppose – just don’t tell me about it!

I read the first in the series in the afternoon and headed to the library for the second book.  Then I succumbed to the holiday library closure and had to sit restlessly waiting until Wednesday to get back in to the library.  I picked up the rest of the series and am finishing A Crimson Warning now with the latest, Death in the Floating City, on hold since it is a HOT book at the library.

Having studied literature in college and trained as an English teacher I am a very picky reader.  I hate wasting time reading poorly written books, and even more abhor reading a book and not feeling anything. I’d rather hate a character then to feel apathetic to her.  I find myself reading the Lady Emily series and yelling at the pages in my mind – then arguing with myself that Lady Emily couldn’t simply do as she wished since women had few rights, yada yada yada.  I really get drawn into the intrigue of the plots with my only real disappointment being the vague generalities around the characters’ descriptions.  I am a visual person and always have scenes running through my head as I read – I simply can’t get a picture for many of the main characters but this could be a lazy brain that has relied solidly on board books and picture books for reading material the last 10 years as a mother.

My aging brain aside, (though I do pray that plasticity does last longer as per my readings) I was happy to see that the author, Tasha Alexander, now lives in Chicago. I’m not one to care much for celebrity and usually have no idea what is going on in the world outside of yoga and fitness, but I love to support local artists and spread the word of good art! Pick up any books in the series – I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

And Only to Deceive

A Poisoned Season

A Fatal Waltz

Tears of Pearl

Dangerous to Know

A Crimson Warning

PS: I’d love to point out that the bed lounger makes a wonderful nursing support and play fort for the kids as well.

I received no compensation for this post, the opinions expressed are my own and given freely.

Ultimate Obstacle Race Training is Available Crush the Competition

image Does scaling a wall entice you? Ever wanted to be on TV? Well, you may not be the next hero in an action movie but the chance to finish an obstacle race is within your grasp.  I was recently sent Brett Stewart’s Ultimate Obstacle Race Training and did a little research online.  Obstacle races are becoming the trendiest new training craze and you can take the challenge to television with Hard Charge Televised Obstacle Mission.  So how can you assure yourself a victory and possibly the limelight?  Pick up Stewart’s new book that will give you the tips and training to crush the world’s toughest courses.

Included in this well outlined book are Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Savage Race to name a few. Get registered soon and grab a copy of the training guide, these races are become very popular and the So Cal January race, the Super Spartan, is 90% full.  Just like Stewart’s book, these races are not limited to adults only.  Spartan lures in the whole family with SpartanKids.com and there is a section in Ultimate Obstacle Race Training geared towards the knee biter set.

Among the topics covered are a gear guide to let you know what you need most to compete, a list of the most well known races and pertinent information about them, course descriptions, and the CRUSH IT Program.  There is also a training guide complete with photos of major obstacles to get you ready to leap over walls, slosh up mud slopes and zig zag from zombies. I have reviewed several of Stewart’s other books and training guides and this one is true to his no nonsense approach to organizing and writing.  It is clear and concise and if you are up to the task, you can tackle any obstacle race. Looking for some of the best races? Look no further than this article that has compiled some of the top races, many are featured in the book. http://www.obstacleracers.com/rankings/


I received no compensation for this review and the opinions expressed are my own