CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007
Strike a Pose is a new DIY book by Karen Birkemoe, a trained yoga instructor who was born in Toronto but currently lives in Australia. It is aimed at young yogini (girls who practice yoga) and provides asanas (poses) for getting started, going further, and techniques that can be used as warm-up for various athletic activities. Strike a Pose centres on Hatha yoga (which focuses on the physical body) but mentions other varieties such as Ashtanga, Bikram and Iyenga yoga. Birkemoe advises potential yoginis that they should build up gradually (because "enlightenment isn't going anywhere"), which is a good warning as girls new to yoga could easily injure themselves if they attempt too much too soon. The author warns girls not to move on to the more difficult poses in the "Going Further" section until at least a month is spent practicing the beginner poses, or they are advised otherwise by a yoga instructor. Heather Collett's illustrations are simple yet attractive and drawn in an American Girl cartoon style, and generally provide good support to Birkemoe's step-by-step instructions (although some of the illustrations and instructions for the advanced yoga poses are a little difficult to follow).
There may be young boys who also wish to practice yoga, but if so, this book is not intended for them. Not only are all the illustrations of girls (of various ethnic backgrounds, I might add), but there are tips on some yoga poses that relieve menstrual cramps and some "inversion" poses to avoid while menstruating. Consequently, any boy who picked up this book would likely be turned off of it quickly. In addition, there are many other useful tips such as yoga poses that can be used to help with nervousness and depression, to keep your stomach and bowels functioning happily, and even ways to use yoga while sitting still playing computer games! I am a little skeptical of some of these suggestions, but, as I have yet to disprove them, I have to assume that Birkemoe is telling the truth.
Strike a Pose is a fairly thorough book on yoga as it also has sections for yogic breathing and meditation, yoga for health problems, mudras (hand gestures), mantras (word chants), at-home massage therapy, a glossary, and even directions on how to make your own yoga mat bed and relaxation eye pillow (with the help of an adult, if you are not a 10-year-old wiz with the sewing machine). While the additional information may be appreciated by young girls who have found a new passion, I thought the latter two activities to be a little unnecessary and quite frankly, I don't think that many girls would have easy access to the dried lavender flowers and flax seeds needed to make an eye pillow. That being said, Strike a Pose should be well received by 10-14 year old girls, or even adults like myself who are beginning yoginis.
Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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