Review - Boomer Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch

Review - Boomer Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch
Boomer Yoga by Beryl Bender Birch. Courtesy of Amazon.com

In 1995, Ashtanga yoga devotee and Power Yoga innovator Beryl Bender Birch published her influential book Power Yoga, which helped popularize the idea that yoga could be a vigorous, athletic workout. Fast forward some fifteen years and we're none of us getting any younger, the power yogini included. Coming face to face with the inevitable changes that aging wreaks on even the most fit bodies, Bender Birch saw an opportunity to figure out what the practice of yoga in middle age looked like for herself, and in turn for her contemporaries, the baby boomers.

Interestingly, the boomers, born 1946-64, were also at the forefront of yoga's journey west and increasing acceptance into the mainstream. Just as Bender Birch was beginning to feel her age, so was the first generation of American yogis. Bender Birch's Boomer Yoga (2009) seeks to help older yoga students accept and embrace a new phase of their practice. She also includes information for people who are just now finding time to start yoga in their retirement years.

Time Marches On

Turns out even yogis get old, as Beryl Bender Birch recounts, much to her surprise, when she began experiencing hip pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. As Bender Birch explored how her yoga practice would require modification as her years accumulated, she had to come to terms with change and aging in a larger sense. She has a unique perspective as someone who championed an extremely athletic form of asana but has experienced in her own body the way that this type of practice can become unsustainable and even counterproductive to health.

 

Most yoga books and marketing have a definite bias toward youth. Yoga is encouraged for babies, kids, and teens. But there's been a gap at the other end of the spectrum. This book offers practical yoga asana advice for both older people who are new to yoga and those searching for a way to adapt their long time yoga practices to their aging bodies.

In addition, Bender Birch examines how a consistent yoga practice that includes pranayama and meditation will help to keep the mind healthy and positive.  

Boomers Unite

A generation of America's yogis are getting old but, until now, no one was addressing how to help them accept this, adapt to it, and maybe even come to a place where they can embrace it. Bender Birth brings her wealth of experience as an aging power yogi to Boomer Yoga. Her anecdotal style combines with the solid voice of experience to make this book both an entertaining read and a practical guide.

Read my interview with Beryl Bender Birch on the origins of power yoga and Boomer Yoga.

Buy from Amazon.com

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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