giveaway! “freeing the body, freeing the mind,” edited by micheal stone

Whooo, August is over! And what a month it’s been! There was no summer vacation for yoga this month, as the conversation moved from controversy (John Friend in the NY Times! Yoga Journal’s nude yoga advertising!) to celebration (yoga festivals!) and back to controversy (Tara Stiles’ “Slim Calm Sexy Yoga” has been burning up the blogasphere ~ I’ve been following the convo, and agreeing with the criticism, but haven’t had the time or energy to jump in). And, to top it off, it’s all yoga, baby has had a record breaking traffic month (since I don’t kiss and tell, I’m not giving any numbers ~ but I can say that I’ve received double the pageviews of an average month and this makes me very happy).

To counter all this extroverted Mars summer energy, I think we all need to kick back with a good book (and maybe a Mojito). So as a special treat for my beloved, loyal, brilliant, inquisitive and articulate blog readers, I have one copy of Michael Stone‘s latest book, Freeing the Body, Freeing the Mind to give away!

Since I haven’t actually read the book yet, here’s what it says on the back cover:
In this collection of provocative essays by prominent teachers of Yoga and Buddhism, the common ground of these two ancient traditions becomes clear. Michael Stone has brought together a group of intriguing voices to show how Buddhism and Yoga share the same roots, the same values, and the same spiritual goals. The themes addressed here are rich and varied, yet the essays all weave together the common threads between the traditions that offer guidance toward spiritual freedom and genuine realization.

Michael didn’t actually write this book himself, but he did pull together some writings from a star-studded list of teachers, including Ajahn Amaro Bhikkhu, Shosan Victoria Austin, (frequent it’s all yoga, baby commenter and awesome guy) Frank Jude Boccio, Christopher Key Chapple, Ari Goldfield and Rose Taylor, Chip Hartranft, Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Sarah Powers, Eido Shimano Roshi, Jill Satterfield, Mu Soeng, Michael Stone, and Robert Thurman.

Okay, so you’re probably wondering how you can get this book in your mailbox asap! All you have to do is answer the following (slightly dualistic) question in the comments section before Friday, Sept 3: Do you practice yoga for your body, your mind, or both? One lucky reader will be chosen at random (although the quality and thoughtfulness of your comment will play into the random draw).

And if you already have the book and are dying to talk about it with other smart, literate Buddhist types, head over to the Tricycle Book Club and join the conversation! Frank Jude Boccio is also hosting a discussion about the book and practice on his blog, Mindfulness Yoga.

  1. did you read my review of it?

  2. Oooh! I’d feel REALLY lucky if I won a copy of this book.

    Okay, so I practice yoga for the integration of my mind and body. So both. When we stop seeing them as seperate, this is when we stop fighting ourselves and start embracing similarities and not differences in ourselves and other people. It’s that whole dance of Shiva/Shakti really! 😉

  3. I had to think hard about posting this comment, because it makes me sound like a spoil sport, but I think it’s important to understand that Buddhism and Yoga do not ultimately share “… the same spiritual goals” as the back cover of this book suggests. They may and do share a few things, but Buddhism is a non-theistic practice, and yoga as described by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Darshan (one of the six schools of philosophy of Hinduism) was a theistic practice, culminating in the experience of divine bliss. They culminate in their own kinds of realization, but saying they are the same is like saying a carrot is a mango.

    • it’s marketing copy – perhaps you should read the book and the perspectives within before you offer your opinion…

    • The place of Ishvara in Patanjali is not necessarily a locus of bhakti devotion. In fact, there is plenty of scholarship (and within the tradition of practice) that posits Ishvara as a later editorial add-on. The state of kaivalya doesn’t sound like the “bliss” spoken of by Vedantins and bhati-yogis. However, as most yogis who brought over the yoga teachings were/are non-dual Vedantins, most contemporary practitioners are under the impression that the text is devotional.

      For Patanjali, Ishvara is simply a unique Purusha who never made the perceptual error of identifying with Prakriti, and for this reason, the yogi orients (pranidhana) him/herself to it.

      That said, the differences between the two traditions are also quite helpful to explore, and they are indeed investigated in the book. Check it out.

    • nowhere in the book does any teacher say they are the same.

  4. I realized over the past year, through some physical issues that didn’t allow me to continue my asana practice in class form, that culturally, at least in my ‘hood, we use the term “yoga” very loosely. Or maybe I mean very tightly. Let me explain: yoga seems to mean “yoga asana” when being discussed in the world wide web or on the street in my neighborhood. What I discovered over the last few years of doing increasingly less asana practice and more and more contemplation, meditation, yogic eating, mantra, pranayama, is that this is all yoga. And I think that when we talk about yoga it might be a good idea to be clear about what kind of yoga we are speaking of. Because yes it’s easy to say that “it’s all yoga (baby!)” but what does this really mean? For me doing yoga involves many different practices and each of them nourish my body and mind and spirit. I think the concept of Michael’s book is interesting to me because, although I haven’t studied as much buddhism as taoism and chinese medicine and christianity, it’s ALL yoga to me! Meaning that all these systems are really interwoven beautifully and remind us that at the core of all these values and traditions there truly is a common thread.

  5. even when i pracitce to release energy from my body, ultimately it’s really about calming down my freaked out monkey mind.

    congrats lady. and i heart f.j.b, too, and always look forward to his comments.

  6. I don’t usually leave comments but hey, a free book and it looks like it should be a good one. I practice yoga for both the mind and body.

  7. what a great book! i hope i win!

  8. Hi Roseanne,

    Thanks for the write-up of the book. Along with the Tricycle blog about the book, your readers may be interested in knowing that I too will be offering a virtual book club at my new blog. The first post about the book will go up later this week.

    frank jude

  9. I began practising yoga primarily for the mental effects – I suffered from panic attacks and was desperate to get rid of them and alleviate the anxiety I experienced. For many years I used to say to people that I wasn’t interested in pretzel yoga or getting my foot behind my head – I was just interested in how yoga made me feel. However, as I age, I’ve come to value what yoga offers to my body in alleviating stiffness in my joints. I still don’t do pretzel yoga but these days, I practice for both my body and mind.

  10. and if anyone wants to read my review….

  11. I practice yoga for both the body and mind!

  12. I started practicing yoga for my body, but my emphasis has shifted dramatically over the years- I now think of yoga more as a form of meditation than as exercise.

  13. I found that my practice really opened up when I mentally separated yoga from my “fitness” practices- so if I want to get fit, I work out some other way, and if I want to get centered and healthy, I do yoga. It really took the pressure off of getting calories burned when I should be focused on clearing out mental and physical obstacles to bliss. That’s not to say there’s no overlap, and my practice definitely includes lots of things that are good for the body, but I do have a bit more freedom to be meditative with my practice.

  14. This question pulls me apart, which I guess is counterproductive to the yoga process. But really, I cannot say how tired I am of the “yoga is exercise” theory. Yoga is a lifestyle. I just decided that I have a new goal – to practice yoga everyday. But then I had to define what that means, and I realize I already do it, though not consciously, which I think is the point. I want to consciously practice pranayama, meditation, and asana each day, but I already try to live by integrating mind/body/spirit, living the yamas and niyamas, finding connection to myself and others, and truly feeling compassion for all beings. Does my body benefit? Of course! Do I practice yoga for any one particular reason? Of course not! Thanks for the chance to share this. I think it is an important question.

  15. Being on the other side on the world, I don’t stand a chance, but just wanted to chime in anyway 🙂

    The first time I set foot on a mat, in a class, was because I believed “I could use some stress reliever and oh maybe be a bit more flexible, but will this be for me? I mean, I CAN’T TOUCH MY TOES!”.
    But gradually, as flexibility in the body increases (a little bit ok, getting my foot behind my head is wishful thinking), so does the “flexibility” of the mind: more open, more calm, more everything. So ultimately, there’s no difference, I practice on and off the mat for both.

  16. BOTH! Yoga certainly feels good for the body but at this point it is essential to take the edge off the crazy!

  17. Since starting my yoga practice, all the little aches and pains I get in my body when sitting on the couch or slouching in my chair are no longer. I feel stronger and put together well. It’s like yoga has realigned my body and for this reason I continue my practice for my body; however, I could have never accomplished many postures or completed many practices without the concentration needed in mind and breath. In particular, I truly appreciate the breathing techniques I’ve learned through my yoga practice; it’s because of proper breathing and breath control that my overall daily focus in the things I do has improved including my yoga practice. So, I guess that means I also do yoga for the mind, but in addition to mind and body, I do it to breathe 😉
    Thanks for the chance to win stuff *

  18. my mind and my body are a part of my practice, but i do my best to move it beyond those 2 things. my yoga is about the interconnection/union with soul/spirit/the divine/the infinite. great blog! namasté.

  19. Both definitely both and so much more as well.

  20. I don’t in any way view my yoga practice as a form of fitness. Yes, the asanas are very healthy and beneficial for my body, but to me the ultimate goal is mindfulness. So, I am definitely aware of my body when practicing, but in more of a healing way than in an exercise way. In the end, it’s my mind that gets the most exercise.

  21. Is tarted for my body…but it has grown to include both.

  22. When Celiac Disease hit and my symptoms multiplied the Yoga mat brought me peace from both physical ailments and mental. Yoga allowed me to understand I was more than my body. That mental/spiritual release allowed me to unwind the physical pain. I get the most benefit from a yoga class, though. I don’t seem to reach that same transcendance in my home practice.

    I now want to become a yoga instructor for people overcoming physical illness and challenges. My day job is workign with cognitively and physically disabled people. I was able last year to work with an individual on a daily basis with yoga. It was a gentle, guided stretching routine. Mostly restorative.

    I love my life.

  23. I practice for both. The stretch and release of my body does wonders for my mind, and the focus and clarity of my mind helps my body function much better. The benefits of one are so intertwined with the other that I find it impossible to pick!

    Lovely giveaway : )

  24. In 2007, I experienced three major health challenged that reduced my practice to lying on the floor breathing. That year, I practised Yogasana in my mind and, gratefully, got rid of the growths in the feminine centre of my body. There is no doubt in my mind that practising Yoga, for the body or the mind, will have a direct effect in the other (i.e. if for the body, it will affect the mind, vice versa). What is more important, for me, is the level of my breath integrity in the practice that unites the mind and body, as the meaning implies. The level of my commitment to the breathing practice directly corresponds with the level of healing in my mind, which affects the healing of my body.

    Thought provoking inquiry, Roseanne! It was lovely to meet in person at Yoga Festival Toronto.

  25. I first came to yoga for my body. It was, and still is at sometimes, a purely physical practice for me. I came to yoga at a “weak” time in my life and I was seeking “strength”. I dedicated every practice to my physical strength. Today I will focus on building strength in my arms, or my core, etc. It was a giant AHA moment when I found that the strength I was seeking not only showed up in my body (in a big way), but also my mind. Yoga certainly has a gift to give, no matter what reasons one comes to it.

  26. OMG I want this book..

    i practice for both mind and body and have really be interested in bringing more Buddhist concepts/practices into my yoga life.

  27. Great giveaway! The more I practice hatha yoga, the more I begin to see my body as a symbolic representation of the non-physical “me”. So, I started out practicing for the physical benefits … and found a connection that is so much deeper. I have suffered with chronic depression in the past and found healing and freedom through this connection (and it is beautiful!). To answer your question: Both!

  28. I began by focusing on the body as I was expecting my first baby at the time. Quickly I realised the immense mind benefits and now feel completely out of wack physically, emotionally and spiritually when I don’t get my yoga fix regularly. Maybe its a challenging vinyasa class or a quiet 20 minutes breathing/meditating. Both provide great benefits that keep me somewhat sane in a chaotic world.

  29. Ah, don’t forget the spirit! I practice yoga for holistic health: balancing mind, body and spirit. The practice reflects and supports my core values of creativity, curiosity, compassion, and connection. At the end of yoga class we honor each other’s divine light with “namaste”. My divine light shines brighter when I practice yoga daily!

  30. At first for the mind – yoga was a great stress reliever for the occupation that I was in. Now though, yoga is great for the mind AND body and I love to see/feel the results through my daily practice.

  31. One of the things that stood out for me in Michael’s book “Yoga for a World Out of Balance” is the freedom he gives to the word “samadhi”. By defining it as intimacy, he took the duality out of the Sutras for me, essentially gracing me with a practice that integrated all of our experience, not excluding what we think doesn’t fit the “classical” model. In that sense, Yoga is not a body-only, or mind-only, practice. It isn’t even limited to our own lives. It includes the entire ecology, as he says, of the world we live in… and asks us to live in it, through it, and as it. Intimacy. Bodymind.

  32. I practice yoga for the benefits it offers for both the mind and body. What affects one, affects the other.

  33. Yoga means union, so when we step those ten toes on the front of the mat, spread them out, drop the shoulders down, lengthen the spine, tuck in the tailbone, and bow our head and breathe, our body is allowed to be rooted and at once fall away to make room for the quiteness in the mind. With the deepening of our breathe (which is still our body because it is our muscles!) we slowly allow the mind to also fall away into simply being without judgment and full of forgiveness. When we have allowed ourselves to enter the space where our minds are still and peaceful, then the movements of our bodies, the asanas, in rhythm with our breathe, work in unison to free the body from its illusions, such as stress and fear, and to free the mind from its illusions, the trap of a dualistic, separated Self. So my feeling is no, we can never do a practice of yoga without being in yoga, or in unison, but we have to remember yoga is as much ‘intention’ as it is ‘action’. Anything else, being anywhere else, is just that, something or somewhere else on the path.

  34. Ok, I’m one day late….can I still be considered for the contest?? I started practicing yoga for my body, I had some back issues. Now I’m much more concerned about the mind. It seems that I have reached a point where I’m searching for much more with my practice, inquiring about why and the physical no longer seems to be enough!!

  35. Thanks, Roseanne.

    I’ll look forward to reading this book. Sounds wonderful.

    Bob W.

  36. hey everyone ~ thanks for entering and for your thoughtful responses! it seems that the “skill testing question” resonated with many people.

    i’m pleased to announce that the winner of the book is Nadia! she’ll be contacted via email and the book will be sent asap.