That Spider

13 12 2017



13 12 2017

Swami Satyananda Saraswati is the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga and so far as I am concerned this book is the yoga Bible. I first studied it back in the 90s, and I have been referring to it continuously ever since. It is, as it says in the Preface, “the refined essence of the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati to his sannyasin disciples at Bihar School of Yoga [and] is intended to serve as the complete textbook for persons learning and teaching all levels of the basic yogic practices.”

It begins – a section for beginners (but everyone should go on doing this!) – with the Pawanmuktasana series of exercises, and there on the first page is TOE BENDING. Sounds so simple, almost silly, certainly not “yoga”, but it is important and I practise that and ANKLE BENDING (also on page 1) every day, along with various other exercises in this basic series designed to rid the body of excess gas and acid and so ease or remove entirely any rheumatic discomfort. “Though they seem very simple they have subtle effects on the practitioner.”

This is followed by a series of asanas for stiff muscles and joints, another series for the eyes, relaxation postures, meditative poses, and various other relatively easy exercises and asanas.

Then come the Middle and Advanced groups of asanas – not to be attempted until you have mastered all the basic exercises and postures, and even then preferably under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher. (Check on your teacher before enrolling as a student by asking him/her about this book!)

Then, as promised in the title, there are sections on Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) and on the Bandhas and Mudras. Bandhas and Mudras are physical holds and gestures, some easy to perform, others needing months or years to perfect, but all of which have a profound effect on the practitioner’s psyche.

The book closes with a section on psychic physiology and the chakras, and a brief survey of yoga therapy for specific disorders, though for this last we need something more specialised and detailed, and I will discuss a couple of the best yoga therapy books in future posts.

The paperback edition is available everywhere including Amazon but is quite expensive, so you may be interested to know that a fully illustrated PDF version is available FREE here:-


Apprentice Fool – FREE today

8 12 2017

MANIACAL by C. M. Sutter

8 12 2017

Mostly, I only post reviews of books I strongly recommend – 4 stars at least. This partly because I do a lot of DNFing; if a story doesn’t grab me pretty quickly, I tend to move on to the next book waiting impatiently in my two ever-growing TBR piles (the paper one and the digital one). Hey, life is short!

With this one – Manical – it was touch and go for the first half of the book – a police procedural which was 90% police procedure. Then it began to liven up and I did, eventually, to my own surprise, actually finish the book and realise it was two o’clock in the morning.

If you enjoy police procedurals, then this might be just your coffee and doughnut. If you don’t, then give it a miss. Oh, and I did like Detective Sergeant Jade Monroe so perhaps I will return for more.

THE RAVEN by Jeremy Bishop

8 12 2017

It is rare for a sequel or the second in a series to be as good as the original story, the one that first presented the reader with this new world, these new characters. It is even rarer for it to be better. But The Raven is definitely more exciting, more of a page-turner, than the very good The Sentinel.

Jane Harper has been trapped in Greenland since the close of the first adventure when, unsurprisingly, virtually no one believes her story of what happened to the crews of the whaler and the anti-whaling ship that both sank following a ramming incident and an explosion. Unsurprisingly because the story she tells is replete with thousand-year-old zombie Vikings, and – worse still in the opinion of the media who decide what people shall and shall not believe – zombie polar bears and narwhals and whales.

Now though, the only other survivors, the elderly Captain of the whaler and his son, return to the island where it all began, intent on saving the world from the (alien) parasite that causes this living death, and they give Jane little choice but to accompany them.

I don’t want to spoil the story. I will simply say that if you enjoyed The Sentinel, don’t miss The Raven. And if you haven’t read The Sentinel, then read it first: this book, The Raven, is not a stand-alone.

It Can …..

1 12 2017


1 12 2017

Saxon England, 7th Century

He heard leaves crumpling as pads pressed them down, and the swish of a strong tail sweeping aside stems. A cold nose pressed into his neck, and he opened his sore eyes to see that the wolves had returned. The wolf nearest him lay down and rolled in the grass. Its fur parted, and a naked woman sat up from the skin like a woman rising from under a wolf-skin coverlet in the midst of a wood. ‘Come and run with us,’ she said.
‘I can’t.’
She reached out and gripped his arm hard. Tugging, she dragged him to his feet. The trees, the sky, spun around him and, dizzily looking down, he saw a man lying among the leaves and greenery. He thought it strange that another man should be there, deep in the wood, until he realised that he was looking at himself.
‘Come, come,’ said the woman, and pushed at his shoulder and pulled at his hand. He started in the direction she moved him. His legs, his feet, moved, but he felt no contact with the ground. Ahead of him, through the grey and green of the wood, he saw the grey wolves loping, their tails held high. Their forelegs and ribs stretched for the stride, their paws hit the ground and kicked it behind. The third wolf quickly joined them. Kenelm tried to run faster, to stay with the wolves, and he flew – as he had in dreams – flying through the trees, above the brambles and grass and toadstool-grown logs – flying like a seed-wisp on a breeze.
Through the arches of trees – bounding across streams, plunging through thickets – mile after mile. Until the wolves stopped and threw up their heads, drawing in the air. They went on slowly, nosing through the undergrowth, slinking about trees, their heads low and their ears pricked. Kenelm hovered with them, brushing their fur, drifting with them.
A track ran through the wood, and from the track came the bawling of sheep, human laughter and singing, the sound of feet on soft, muddy earth, the trampling of hoofs …

This is ostensibly a book for children but if the publishers did not announce that back and front, we would never guess. It is the story of a young man, Kenelm, an atheling, a nephew of the King and descendant of Woden, who was, when very young, sent to be a monk by his uncle the King. Not because the King is a Christian – far from it – but, it seems, on the principle of “Know your enemies” and so as to have someone loyal to him on the inside. The boy was never consulted.

Now a reluctant young monk who still at heart worships Woden and hates every minute of his life in the monastery, Kenelm is summoned to court by one of the King’s counsellors because everyone is ill and no other atheling is available to deliver an important message. The message is to the Wood-People, begging their aid against invaders who are taking advantage of the epidemic to plunder the country. In the wood, Kenelm delivers the message – to three Wood-Women, sisters, who are shape-shifters and take the form of wolves to harry the foreigners.

Will Kenelm return to the monastery? Will he be reinstated at court by a grateful monarch? Will he join the Wood-People?

Note, though, that this is a book in which the Christians, a tiny minority in a land still pagan to the core, are regarded as freaks – and stupid, too.

‘Oh, sister! You are welcome!’ said the Abbess. ‘Speak to me – tell me your name!’
‘Why are you in our wood? Why did you break our tree?’ It was Wulfruna.
‘It is Jesus’ wood,’ said the Abbess. ‘All the world is His creation.’

If that kind of thing upsets you, don’t read it. Otherwise, do. It is a great little read, full of medieval magic and mystery – shape-shifting, astral travel, agelessness – but “little”, yes. When I finished it, I felt as though I had just read the first part of a real novel. I wanted (still want, Ms Price!) to know what happens to Kenelm next.