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Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment Through Breathing, Movement and Meditation

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Zen Yoga is the culmination of the more than twenty-five years Aaron Hoopes has spent studying and training in the practical and spiritual arts of Japan, China and India. In this book, he combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation, the graceful movements of Tai Chi, the energized breathing of Qigong, and the peaceful stretching exercises of Shanti Yoga. He then blends Zen Yoga is the culmination of the more than twenty-five years Aaron Hoopes has spent studying and training in the practical and spiritual arts of Japan, China and India. In this book, he combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation, the graceful movements of Tai Chi, the energized breathing of Qigong, and the peaceful stretching exercises of Shanti Yoga. He then blends breathing, moving, stretching, and relaxation exercises into a unique discipline that opens up to anyone, regardless of age or physical condition, the potential for experiencing a new way of living. But Zen Yoga is more than a simple exercise program. It offers a formula to guide us toward a healthier, happier, fitter, and more peaceful state of being. In engaging, easily-understood prose, Hoopes begins by defining the concepts and explaining his ideas on Zen, Yoga, the Chakras, Chi energy, and the Tao. The next part of the book focuses on breathing, moving, and relaxing exercises, with a final section on spiritual deepening that shows how the experience of Zen Yoga can be merged with the personal spiritual inclinations of the individual. The book includes detailed photographs showing correct positions and sequence of movements. The Zen Yoga program promotes a healthy body, mind, and spirit. At a deeper level, a commitment to Zen Yoga can illuminate ways to encourage enlightenment, radiate harmony and live in full awareness of the present moment. Aaron Hoopes book contains simple breath and mind-body exercises that are not out of the reach of ordinary people. Zen Yoga has worked for my patients. I plan to use this book for them (and myself) and to recommend it to anyone looking for an honest and practical, yet sophisticated book on yoga. --Reza Yavari, M.D., author of It Must Be My Metabolism


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Zen Yoga is the culmination of the more than twenty-five years Aaron Hoopes has spent studying and training in the practical and spiritual arts of Japan, China and India. In this book, he combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation, the graceful movements of Tai Chi, the energized breathing of Qigong, and the peaceful stretching exercises of Shanti Yoga. He then blends Zen Yoga is the culmination of the more than twenty-five years Aaron Hoopes has spent studying and training in the practical and spiritual arts of Japan, China and India. In this book, he combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation, the graceful movements of Tai Chi, the energized breathing of Qigong, and the peaceful stretching exercises of Shanti Yoga. He then blends breathing, moving, stretching, and relaxation exercises into a unique discipline that opens up to anyone, regardless of age or physical condition, the potential for experiencing a new way of living. But Zen Yoga is more than a simple exercise program. It offers a formula to guide us toward a healthier, happier, fitter, and more peaceful state of being. In engaging, easily-understood prose, Hoopes begins by defining the concepts and explaining his ideas on Zen, Yoga, the Chakras, Chi energy, and the Tao. The next part of the book focuses on breathing, moving, and relaxing exercises, with a final section on spiritual deepening that shows how the experience of Zen Yoga can be merged with the personal spiritual inclinations of the individual. The book includes detailed photographs showing correct positions and sequence of movements. The Zen Yoga program promotes a healthy body, mind, and spirit. At a deeper level, a commitment to Zen Yoga can illuminate ways to encourage enlightenment, radiate harmony and live in full awareness of the present moment. Aaron Hoopes book contains simple breath and mind-body exercises that are not out of the reach of ordinary people. Zen Yoga has worked for my patients. I plan to use this book for them (and myself) and to recommend it to anyone looking for an honest and practical, yet sophisticated book on yoga. --Reza Yavari, M.D., author of It Must Be My Metabolism

30 review for Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment Through Breathing, Movement and Meditation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I was cautiously skeptical when I found this book: in the process of making Eastern philosophies more accessible for Western audiences (a.k.a. mainstreaming), there are often clumsy attempts at merging two (or more!) philosophical systems into one, often by cherry-picking aspects of the systems that are (often superficially) compatible. If you Google “Zen Yoga”, you will find an endless list of yoga centres/gyms that use the word “Zen” for marketing, and who don’t seem to integrate the practice I was cautiously skeptical when I found this book: in the process of making Eastern philosophies more accessible for Western audiences (a.k.a. mainstreaming), there are often clumsy attempts at merging two (or more!) philosophical systems into one, often by cherry-picking aspects of the systems that are (often superficially) compatible. If you Google “Zen Yoga”, you will find an endless list of yoga centres/gyms that use the word “Zen” for marketing, and who don’t seem to integrate the practice and philosophy of Zen Buddhism to what they do (they may be out there, but my cursory search turned up nothing). Zen and yoga do have common goals, there are clear parallels/overlaps between the Yoga Sutras and the Buddhist Precepts, and both use the focus on breath as the anchor to the practice. That said, there are no physical exercises in Zen that resemble asana practice (or at least, none that I have encountered in a decade of practice and in dozens of books I’ve read on the topic). In my personal opinion, that’s too bad, because it is a lot easier to sit in half-lotus for extended periods of time if you have properly stretched and reinforced your knees, hips and hamstrings. So I can definitely see the benefits of complementing zazen practice with asana practice - and vice versa. Some monasteries now have periods of “meditative exercises”, which consists of a few modified Hatha Yoga asanas that help reduce the impact of sitting crossed legs for hours on end on the meditators’ bodies, but it isn’t part of the traditional curriculum, so to speak. And while Yoga practice does include meditation, it is not the same kind of meditation practiced in Zen Buddhism. So, knowing all that, what the hell is Zen Yoga? As I expected, it is a hodgepodge of Eastern practices (Zen meditation, asana yoga, Tai Chi, Quigong breathing method, etc.) that Aaron Hoopes tries to unify into a single system that people can use as a “lifestyle” guide and pathway to enlightenment. And as I anticipated, it doesn’t quite work… Hoopes attempts to summarize Zen, and I found his explanations very incomplete. He has the right idea emphasizing that Zen is not just something you do on a meditation cushion, but that its part of every moment of life, and that it is beyond descriptions, but that’s not quite enough if you are addressing people who (I assume) don’t know much about it. Similarly, his section on asanas is not comprehensive: the descriptions of each pose is superficial, does note detail any variations or ways to make progressively more accessible. There are no sequences, or explanations on how those asanas work on your body - which is can be problematic if people are dealing with any kind of injuries. I’m not a traditionalist about a lot of things, but Zen practice is one of those things where I am. I was taught by a traditionalist, who insisted that hundreds of years of practices and teachings can’t simply be swept away or blended with other things just because it’s easier or more fashionable – and I agree 100%. Neither Zen nor yoga should be practiced because it’s easy or fashionable. And while the two practices can be compatible, trying to shoehorn them into a single system feels off. I appreciate the effort and intention but I am obviously not the target for this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Loree

    blends martial arts and yoga...good focus on breathing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Teryn

    I found the opening to be very informative and interesting and I will be adding some of the poses I learned in this book to my daily routine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Amazingly comprehensive. Beautiful photos. This is a piece of art in addition to being a fantastic in-depth study of Zen Yoga. The author is truly passionate about his work and you can feel that on every page.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    I loved the chapters on movement and meditation, and the exercises were presented so clearly and with such vivid photos that I wanted to try all of them. I'm too old to do that but I can enjoy reading and working on many of them over and over. And feeling younger. I loved the chapters on movement and meditation, and the exercises were presented so clearly and with such vivid photos that I wanted to try all of them. I'm too old to do that but I can enjoy reading and working on many of them over and over. And feeling younger.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christyjoan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nic Grosan

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bronwen

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Blaire

  11. 5 out of 5

    anil Semwal

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  13. 5 out of 5

    Philippe

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samantha McGuire The Writers Web Archive

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dee

  16. 5 out of 5

    Smarterbodies

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rekha

  18. 4 out of 5

    TheOnyxx

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fabiola Rivera (Amrit Sukhmani Kaur)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diana.d

  21. 4 out of 5

    BiL

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Alford

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jaded

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pyang

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Hoopes

  26. 4 out of 5

    michael winn

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Seta A

  29. 4 out of 5

    Graham

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Rogers

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