Sunday, 9 October 2011

My body is a Temple

I did a book review recently which I thought I'd share...

Christina Sell’s latest offering, My Body is a Temple, is a sequel to her previous book: Yoga From the Inside out. Yoga From the Inside out was a journey of ending the war and making peace with your body, through the honesty of Christina’s personal journey, enhanced by testimonies of her students and friends. My Body is a Temple builds on this, as is a journey of making a sanctuary within your body. Sell’s work is underpinned by the philosophies of the Western Baul Traditional, as presented to her via her spiritual teacher, Leo Lozowick and the Northern India (Kashmir Shavism, primarily) and Sri Vidya traditions. The Northern India and Sri Vidya are Tantric philosophies, underpinning Anusara yoga as taught to Sell by John Friend.

Yoga From the Inside Out was very much a journey of self discovery made by Sell through her journey of practicing and teaching yoga. My Body is a Temple is aimed to be a much more practical guide in terms of offering the reader questions to begin of continue their own journey of self discovery. She highlights the importance of this to the book by quoting Carlos Pomeda (a rare combination of academic and spiritual practioner, he holds degrees in religious studies and Sansrkit and lived for over three decades as a monk in the Siddha Yoga ashrams): “knowing the philosophy without doing the practices is like being able to read a recipe in a gourmet cookbook but never getting to eat the meal.”
As an illustration of building your own temple, Sell weaves the story of building a temple and the first hand accounts of those involved in building the Temple of Yogi Ramsuratkumar in Southern India in the 1990’s. Yogi Ramsuratkumar was Leo Lozowick’s Guru and whilst Sell never met him, she tells her story of her visit to the temple and how she felt the intention of Ramsuratkumar’s vision within its walls.

The book is split into six sections, each illustrating a principal Sell wishes to share:

  1. Building Plans: Putting the highest first
  2. Foundations: Establishing a Solid Foundation
  3. Scaffolding: Erecting and Maintaining Strong Walls of Support
  4. Entering the Sanctuary: Expanding the Inner Life
  5. Worship: Life and the Shrine of the Heart
  6. Outreach Ministry: Service and Celebration

Each section combines yoga philosophy, the metaphor of temple building and contemplations for the reader to begin their own internal temple building project. The metaphor of the temple offers reader an opportunity to see spirituality manifested in bricks and mortar and the framework of Sell’s book offers us the opportunity for spirit to be manifest within the temple of our own body.

The book is heartfelt, practical and infused with Sell’s warmth and humour. It is accessible to any level of practioner, student or teacher, combining both structure and flexibility to begin one’s own self enquiry. It does, however, assume a particular philosophical lens of the reader in that it is influenced by the Tantric Philosophies outlined above.

Christina Sell is a Certified Anusara teacher. She serves on the Anusara Yoga Certification Assessment Committee, the Anusara Yoga Curriculum Development Committee and the Anusara Yoga Ethics Committee.

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