It’s one of the paradoxes of today’s youth- and beauty-obsessed yoga culture that one of the oldest and most established yoga styles has become one of the least known: Iyengar Yoga, named for its legendary founder B.K.S. Iyengar, isn’t complicated or exotic. Its practitioners aren’t likely to burn incense or to chant Sanskrit prayers in class. Known for its heavy reliance on props, including ropes and blocks, to ease practitioners in and out of the more difficult yoga poses, the practice is decidedly non-competitive. It’s also distinctly unglamorous. You won’t see many Iyengar teachers featured in a Lululemon clothing ad, or asked to participate in a sexy magazine photo shoot. For one thing, the practitioner could well be in her 70s.
Which is why Suza Francina’s wonderful book, The New Yoga for Healthy Aging, is such a welcome addition to the sprawling American literature on yoga. Francina, author of three previous best-selling books and one of the original founders of the industry trade magazine Yoga Journal, isn’t a yoga pop celebrity like Tara Stiles or a Shiva Rea, and she’s far less well known than other prominent Iyengar teachers like Judith Lasater and John Schumacher. And she seems to like it that way. Now in her early 60s, she’s been practicing yoga since 1972, and almost from the start, as a fresh-faced 22-year old “hippie chick” living in California, she’s been drawn to working with seniors. It’s clearly given her a grounded humble insight into what yoga can do to heal and rejuvenate the human body and spirit, and has kept her focused on the practice’s simple unadorned truths, free of the esoteric jargon and new Age pop-philosophizing that can be off-putting to yoga outsiders and newbies. (MORE)