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Downward Dogs and Warriors

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Wisdom Tales for Modern Yogis
Zo Newell

Yoga has moved into the American mainstream and people from all walks of life are enjoying the benefits. Downward Dogs and Warriors expounds the rich oral tradition of India's mythological stories with the yoga postures that evolved from them. Each chapter begins with a color photograph and richly detailed bazaar art of the deity associated with the creation of the posture.

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Product Details

Publisher: Himalayan Institute
Copyright: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-893892661
109 pages, 30-Color descriptive photos
6" x 9"

Yoga / Mythology

About the Author

Zo Newell was introduced to yoga by Dr. Rammurti S Mishra (Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati) when she was fourteen. She earned her master of theology studies degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1988 and completed a PhD on the history and critical theory of religion at Vanderbilt University. Zo lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she teaches restorative yoga and yoga philosophy through the Yoga School. She is married and is the mother of four dogs.

More on Downward Dogs and Warriors

From the Back Cover

Have you noticed that colorful depictions of Indian gods and goddesses have made their way into the Western yoga scene, but are unsure how they can be useful in your personal practice? This book by a long-time yoga practitioner and scholar of religion provides an answer. It shows you how to use the physical postures of yoga along with deeply symbolic imagery for reflection, self-examination, and healing.

When I was young, my teacher told stories about Shiva and other heroes from the Indian epics. He explained that all the characters in the stories were aspects of our own minds, making the stories instructive as well as entertaining. For this book, I have chosen stories about Shiva related to well-known asanas in the hope that your yoga practice will be enriched and enlivened. I believe the postures themselves embody the energy of these stories, and I hope that knowing the stotries behind them will help you find the pose that emerges uniquely from your own body and from your own experience of yoga.

-Zo Newell, author


While popular culture has caught on to the health and psychological benefits of yoga, the contemplative spirit that is at the heart of this ancient spiritual practice is often overlooked. By relating Indian mythical images to asana, long-time yoga student and Harvard Divinity School graduate Zo Newell offers a creative way to add integrity and depth to physical practice. Down-to-earth and insightful, Newell reveals how depictions and stories of Indian Gods and Goddesses can be a powerful tool for reflection, self-examination and healing. Following the stories are mind/body awareness exercises to help facilitate self-exploration, including tips to get the most out of the related posture. This book is an invaluable guide for any level yogi and a useful tool for the instructor.

-Creations Magazine, Rachel Marks, author

One of "60 of the Most Recommended Yoga Books". One of three in the category Philosophy.

-Yoganonymous 2013

Kim Valeri, the owner/director of YOGASpirit Studios in Hamilton, Massachusetts, suggests this book because it explains the "mythological imagery of the [Hindu] deities within poses." For example, author Newell explains how Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) expresses Shiva with the moon in his hair, and why understanding that impacts the pose energetically. Through a stronger understanding of the mythology and spirituality of a pose, says Valeri, teachers can convey greater insight and mastery to their students.

-Yoga Journal Recommendation - Summer Reading for Teachers 2013

Asana has roots far deeper than the ones that you create by pressing through the four corners of your feet. But unless you're a yoga scholar or consider it your hobby to wade through ancient yogic texts, you might not know the whole story behind your favorite poses. In Downard Dogs & Warriors, Zo Newell offers a CliffsNotes version of the Indian tales that first inspired the asanas practiced today. For example, did you know that Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) was named for a god who embodied Shiva's anger after the wrongful death of his first wife, Sati? Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) may look like a pose named after a simple three-sided shape you studied in geometry, but it also represents the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (the gods of creation, preservation, and destruction), the three Ayurvedic doshas, and the three gunas (qualities of nature).

To help modern yogis better connect with these ancient tales, Newell suggests embodying a pose's story during practice, meditating on the myth's message, and then journaling about the experience. While the specifics of getting into the featured asanas aren't comprehensive, the book is a great tool for students looking to deepen their understanding of the history and mythology behind asana practice.

--Yoga Journal March 2008, Erica Rodefer, author

This is a delightful book. I have long wondered about the stories associated with yoga. There is no other book like this. It has added a new dimension to my yoga practice. I highly recommend it for those who practice yoga of any type. ~ Susan Nov 06, 2007 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars

--Goodreads Review

I was lucky enough to read this book before it is released to the public, and it is amazing. Although I have practiced yoga for many years, the concepts in this book ask the reader to explore stories from India in his/her personal practice. The book introduces the classical mythology of India through stories of Shiva, although it does not delve into Hinduism or any other religion. It is strictly related to good storytelling and personal exploration. This book is approachable for both new beginners and seasoned practitioners alike, although it is not a teaching manual in the traditional sense. The illustrations and photos are most helpful and are pleasing to the eye. There is much to learn and explore! ~ Wallace Joiner Aug 01, 2007

--Goodreads Review

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