The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts To Power Your Yoga Practice. A Book Review.
By Dana L. Lee
Now that the hectic pace of the holidays is a fresh distant memory, it feels natural to turn inward and reflect on what expands your heart with health and joy. How can you grow the seeds of health and happiness while fostering a deeper yoga practice in 2017? How can you expand your golden light for others? One way to get started on living with more purpose and infectious joy in the new year is to pick up a copy of Brian Leaf's new book, “The Teacher Appears, 108 Prompts to Power Your Yoga Practice."
Brian sent me a copy a few weeks ago, and I immediately fell in love with the inspirational journal format and the engaging content. While those unused holiday gift cards are burning a hole in your wallet, it seemed the perfect time to share this petite powerhouse with you.
“The Teacher Appears” is completely portable, designed to draw out your thoughts, and feels like an indispensable collection of best friends in your back pocket. Its uncomplicated design invites immediate use in a kinetic and tangible way. It is designed to foster a nourishing yoga practice and document the unfolding as you grow. It becomes a light map of your yoga journey, a confidential container for exploring deep truths while learning to laugh with yourself along the way. It's filled with concise contributions from caring yoga contemporaries such as Elena Brower, Krishna Das, Seane Corn, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Gannon, Tiffany Cruikshank, David Swenson and Shiva Rea; but it's the promptings that it asks of YOU that will yield the most delicious fruit.
Although you might not feel like farting in yoga class and writing a journal entry about it, the idea of normalizing a natural body function is, in the truest yogic sense, all about right here, right now, and embracing life as it comes. If you choose to metaphorically rather than literally participate in that particular exercise, at the very least you might perhaps expel a glorious laugh or two, as I did. Acceptance comes in slow measures sometimes. Anna Guest Jelly, founder of Curvy Yoga, contributes to the book: “What would it be like to accept your body and your yoga practice exactly as it is today? Live into that answer today on your mat." Powerful thoughts that engender comfort in one’s authentic nature are what this book is all about. As someone who has struggled with obesity and self-image most of my life, I found this notion empowering and healing. We get so caught up in self-criticism that we forget to live sometimes, and Brian Leaf prompts us again and again to dwell in the channel of the light within, basking in the gift of this moment of grace.
The momentum of grace is engineered gently in this book. It’s easy to see that this book is designed for heart felt action, each page a generous and unpretentious call to life. “Choose someone in class and secretly send them good vibes.” It's a simple exercise, but imagine the karmic rippling effects. One of my dearest friends is a Reiki Master who often does distance Reiki healings for animals and humans alike. Sending “good vibes” is something she does all day long with miraculous healing results for herself and others. Meditating your loving energy towards another person is a surprisingly effective way to practice self-care as well, since loving is its own expansive reward. As we intend light for others, we shine more brightly for ourselves as well. Our heart walls are softened, and we learn to love more deeply. Prayers are made of such light, and meditation with action can change the world. This book has numerous ques, exercises, and words from modern sages ready to prompt your intentions to grow yoga in your life in a rewarding way both on and off the mat.
So many yoga books feel heavy and laden with complicated concepts and precepts, but when you get right down to it, it's all about reaching inside to shine our light for ourselves and others. I can't think of a better way to develop a lifelong habit of gratitude, yoga, health and renewal in 2017 than starting with this little book of yoga prompts, or better yet, buy a few copies for your friends and take the journey together! Like one page in the book says: “Just for today, no complaining about anything. Speak only gratitude.” Well, it’s easy for me to feel gratitude for this book and the people who contributed to it. I wish I could carry a stack of these books around with me to give to all my friends!
You can catch up with some of the Master Teachers that contributed to the book at Yoga Journal Live in San Francisco, January 13 – 16, 2017. Check out the schedule online and I hope to see you all there with glowing smiles!!