Kathleen Nitting’s Going Beyond the Pose examines how yoga has impacted her personal and spiritual growth. It seems intended for readers who may be familiar with yoga’s physical aspects and desire a deeper understanding of yoga’s roots and philosophical purpose.
Nitting structures her book through the lens of four different paths, or approaches, to yoga: bhakti (love), jnana (knowledge), karma (action) and raja (meditation). These paths are “not mutually exclusive” but provide a template for how a person might begin to explore yoga. Woven among the teachings of both Western and Eastern spiritual texts are autobiographical anecdotes, discussing instances when Nitting looked outside herself for answers or doubted her internal compass. We witness her struggle with her marriage’s end, chronic health issues and an ongoing journey toward self-discovery.
The author’s background as a certified Vedic instructor shows in the well-informed content of her writing. However, the book suffers several key flaws: The author’s explanations of the four yogic paths are too brief to fully guide readers interested in pursuing them. Meanwhile, Nitting’s suggested exercises are presented haphazardly, making them difficult to find and follow (e.g., she offers bulleted experiential work at the end of chapters 2 and 4, but in the middle of chapter 3 and sometimes without bullet points at all. Usually— but not always—these sections are labeled “Living Yoga.”)
Overall, the book’s purpose is unclear: There’s not enough philosophy for it to merit philosophical regard; not enough consistency in the presentation of exercises to make it useful as a practice guide; and while Nitting offers personal anecdotes, they lack the sense of purpose of respected authors such as Mark Nepo and Pema Chodron (who she mentions frequently), who use personal stories to carefully relay specific spiritual lessons.
In sum, other books on the market cover similar territory more effectively. Still, beginners seeking an introduction to yoga may find helpful tidbits here.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.