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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: Breathing Space by Katrina Repka and Alan Finger

Title: Breathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman
Author: Katrina Repka and Alan Finger
Pages: 256
Publisher: Voice (December 30, 2008) (Division of Hyperion)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Self-Help / Fitness-Memoir
Edition: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review as part of the two-week Health and Beauty focus

Perfect for : Personal Use,Professional Use, Would be an interesting book club read

In a nutshell: We take our breath for granted. It happens automatically - in, out, in out - . . . without thought. If we really experience our breath's full potential, it brings us awareness, power and release. Throughout the course of this book, Katrina gives the reader a glimpse into her life, and her conversations with Alan Finger, which ultimately lead to her learning breathing exercises that provide great benefits. At the end of each chapter she shares the exercises that she learns in an easy-to-follow format so that we can learn them too. I was amazed to find that I could follow the instructions, and that I have become more relaxed and am sleeping better. I have not done the exercises long, so have not reached the full benefit, but I do believe that they can bring the reader/practitioner many benefits.

Extended Review: Each chapter begins with a brief glimpse into Katrina's life, which soon flows into dialogue between her and Alan, ultimately resulting in a new breathing lesson. Each of the breathing exercises help the participant to focus or improve something such as their focus or redirecting "self-destructive tendencies."

Content: Each of the twelve chapters focuses on a different yoga breathing technique. Each technique is meant to provide a benefit to the person performing them. The topics from the Contents include:

1. Discovery: Learning about the power of the breath
2. Focus: The power of the breath to help you see yourself clearly
3. Emptiness: The power of the breath to fill you with radiance and strength
4. Time: The power of the breath to transform conventional thinking
5. Criticism: The power of the breath to erase self-destructive tendencies
6. Family: The power of the breath to restore equilibrium and equality
7. Balance: The power of the breath to balance the inner and outer worlds
8. Creativity: The power of the breath to release the creative self
9. Communication: The power of the breath to link the head and the heart
10. Addiction: The power of the breath to remove the hidden obstacles that prevent progress
11. Faith: The power of the breath to overcome hesitation and connect you with your truth
12. Release: The power of the breath to release you

Format: Each chapter starts with a memoir-type story, which leads to a conversation with Alan, ending with a new breathing technique. The end of the chapter includes the step-by-step instructions so the reader can do the techniques, and a personal note by Katrina to provide extra explanations or tips.

Readability: Easy to read - I was so engrossed in reading and trying to mimic the exercises in which-ever awkward position I happened to be reading in (no - I don't advise you to try it my way! It wasn't very successful until I actually followed the instructions) that the pages literally flew by! Before I knew it, I was at the end of another chapter.

Overall: Regardless of your views of yoga (novice vs. expert), I do believe the breathing exercises provide some real benefits, even if I haven't been as successful as Katrina . . . yet! If I understand correctly, the practitioner really needs to dedicate some time to get the techniques down correctly in order to be able to reap the full benefits. After the first day of reading, I was able to fall asleep in a very peaceful state (I normally struggle to get my thoughts to quiet down) by using the first two techniques. I can't wait to see what I can do after doing these for a longer time period.

From the Back Cover:
"This is the story of a year I spent in New York, studying with Yoga Master Alan Finger."

When Katrina Repka moved to New York, she was eager to shed her past and begin a new life, but she soon discovered that her old problems had followed her to the big city, and that instead of finding herself, she was more lost than ever. It was when she was almost ready to give up on everything that she read a magazine article on Master Yogi Alan Finger and knew that she had to meet him. It was a meeting that would change her life.

Over the next twelve months, with Alan's help, Katrina tackled and overcame many of the obstacles holding her back. Dealing with issues that every woman will relate to--criticism, emptiness, balance, family, and creativity (among others)--the twelve chapters in Breathing Space follow Katrina's ups and downs in New York. At the end of each chapter there is a simple but effective breathing exercise that will help readers eliminate harmful behavior patterns and speed their own process of personal transformation. Breathing Space is an inspiring and instructive book that offers every woman the chance to follow the author's path and become the person she truly wants and deserves to be.

First Paragraph:
What am I doing with my life?

The old, familiar question. The one I thought I'd left behind.
I slouched in the hard plastic chair and stared at the sudsy laundry tumbling in the washer across from me. Around and around it went one way. Then around and around the other. None o'clock on a Thursday night in New York City. I should have been out on the town. Instead, I was sitting in my apartment building's basement laundry room. Getting ready to use the dryer. Fold the laundry. And find my boyfriend's missing sock. Although I had no objection to the title Domestic Goddess, it wasn't at the top of my list. Nor was it the role I'd had in mind when I arrived in New York four months ago, intent on a voyage of self-discovery. (pages 1-2)
About the Author: (From the book)
Katrina Repka has been a yoga student for fifteen years and a teacher for eight. She is currently living and teaching in London.

Alan Finger has been practicing and teaching yoga for more than forty years. With his father he created ISHTA yoga, a style that is now taught in studios around the world. Although he has been a personal teacher and guide to numerous celebrities, he continues to teach regular public classes, most recently at the new ISHTA studio in downtown New York. He has been called the Supreme Yogi.

Visit Katrina's site here.

Visit Alan's site here.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!


Kaye said...

Hi Wendi, I just wanted to stop by and wish you and your family a most happy new year. I've really enjoyed reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

the 3-part yoga breath is a challenge to master; it does take a lot of practice, and you can't rush it.

I never thought much about breathing until I started yoga ... this sounds like an interesting book.

LissaL said...

Great review. I definitely want to put this book on my list of must reads in 2009. Thanks!

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