Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Christy Turlington's Living Yoga

I realize that this book has been out for many years at this point, but it only just came to me this past Christmas when I received it as a gift.

I've never encountered a book quite like this. In Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice, uber-model Christy Turlington recounts her own journey into yoga—but the book is actually part memoir, part yoga reference book. She gives a very nice history of yoga and the different disciplines within it; touches on the spritiual aspects of yoga, Buddhism, and Hinduism; and descibes asanas, breathing techniques, meditiation, sacred spaces, and more.

Turlington also explores a very appropriate question, I think, for those of us who are avid yoga followers, but are not practicing Buddhists or Hindus—spiritual belief systems that more closely align with yoga than most Christian religions. She wonders how to reconcile her Catholicism with the tenets of yogic belief—something I can fully identify with as a Christian. She eventually discovers that yoga actually fits very neatly into almost any lifestyle or belief system—that it can in fact deepen existing beliefs while at the same time opening your mind to more universal concepts. I loved the fact that she stayed true to herself while becoming a better, more enlightened version of herself—because although I admire the reasoning, it is highly unlikely that I'll ever convert fully to Buddhism or adopt the vegetarian aspect of yoga.

On the subject of vegetarianism, Turlington made a profound, yet obvious observation that really hit home with me. I can't seem to find the exact passage, but Turlington points out that those of us who aren't vegetarian can and should still recognize and give thanks for the sacrifice of animal lives made for our benefit. It's pretty obvious that the meat we consume and leather we wear was once walking around on four legs, but in our sterile North American world, I think many of us compartmentalize the killing aspect of meat consumption, especially if you're a lover of animals. Cruising through our ultra-luxurious grocery stores, it is easy to forget that an animal was bred, slaughtered, weighed, measured, shrink-wrapped, labeled, and shipped just for our consumption. So, at minimum, recognizing the sacrifice and being mindful of this should deepen our appreciation for animal-based foods...and maybe even move the most reticent of us toward a more vegetarian lifestyle.

If you haven't read it, and are the least it curious about yoga, pick up Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice. It really is a lovely and insightful book, one that I'll probably even re-read from time to time.

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