Yoga and Alignment: From the Upanishads to B.K.S. Iyengar

This book offers an accessible and lively look at yoga philosophy and psychology. Following the model of the eight limbs of yoga the authors engage the tradition from its foundational ethics to the highest states of consciousness. Based on 30 years of research and practice, it connects the insights of this ancient tradition to our lives and the challenges facing us today. This work will appeal to a broad audience including scholars, yoga teachers and practitioners. and general readers who have an interest in philosophy, meditation and psychology.


Gitte Bechsgaard is the founding Director of Vidya Institute International and is a Registered Psychotherapist. Gitte has studied privately with her mentor Sri Krishan Mantriji in the areas of Sanskrit, Yoga philosophy, Jyotish and Contemplative practice. She is a certified Senior Iyengar Yoga Instructor (CIYT), and teaches throughout North America and Europe. Her publications include The Gift of Consciousness (2013) and The Sacred in Exile: What It Really Means to Lose Our Religion (2017).

Gillian McCann is an Associate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department at Nipissing University, Canada. Her publications include Vanguard of the New Age: The Toronto Theosophical Society 1891-1945 (2012) and The Sacred in Exile: What It Really Means to Lose Our Religion (2017).

“In this unique and excellent book, Gitte Bechsgaard and Gillian McCann present the essential wisdom of classical yoga with inspirational clarity. Erudite as scholars and seasoned in practice, they are steeped in classical language and uncompromising in their devotion to traditional values and views. I am confident that this book will help students of yoga practice more accurately--- and teachers of yoga to teach more effectively. Yoga and Alignment has earned its place in contemporary yoga literature.”
Patricia Walden
Co-founder, B.K.S Iyengar Center of Cambridge

“Gitte Bechsgaard and Gillian McCann have written a concise account of many of the central ideas of thousands of years of the yoga tradition from the standpoint of alignment. This concept deserves to be the pivot around which much of the yoga tradition thinks, moves, and reflects. This book deserves a wide audience. The authors have shown here (once again) that they have been exemplary students of their own teachers and gurus, whose knowledge is beautifully reflected in both their words and the experiences that clearly foreshadow them.”
Frederick Smith
Professor of Sanskrit and Classical Indian Studies, University of Iowa

“This beautifully written book brings the ancient wisdom of classical yoga and meditation into a contemporary psychological perspective. Combining teachings from ancient Eastern texts (Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) with Western psychologists C.G. Jung, William James, and others, as well as contemporary research in psychology and mental health, Yoga and Alignment provides a concise, yet comprehensive, overview of the eight-limbed path of what could be called Patanjali Yoga. Aiming to convey the meaning of the ancient concept of alignment in modern language, the authors lead the reader on a journey from the foundational aspects of the yamas and niyamas to the physical (āsana) and breath (pranāyāma) practices, making the journey away from the senses (pratyāhāra) and inward to focused mental states of concentration (dhāraṇā) and eventually meditation (dhyāna) and absorption (samādhi). […] Both Bechsgaard and McCann have the gifts of education in both Western and Eastern thought, and have skillfully made these ancient Eastern concepts accessible to the Western mind. […] Any student of yoga or contemplative studies will welcome the opportunity to see the larger system of yoga—what is essentially a concentration form of meditation—explained in this lovely book. Moreover, this book would be a delightful addition to clinical or health psychology students, or anyone interested in understanding how eight-limbed yoga can contribute to improved well-being, better interpersonal relationships and a better society.”
Laura Baker, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California

“Yoga and Alignment is a book for all those who are following yoga and especially for those whose yoga practice has, until now, been about exercise and breathing. The authors reveal how much more is available to each one of us, and in a way that shows the journey towards who we really are is accessible to each one who chooses to follow the practices. It is a very easy book to read and it holds the potential for positive change and self-exploration beyond the yoga mat.”
Shelia Haswell
Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, UK

“Yoga and Alignment: From the Upanishads to B.K.S. Iyengar is a must-read for clinical psychologists, transpersonal therapists, and anyone in the helping, healing, and growth-potential profession who is interested in their own development and higher states of consciousness or that of their clients. As people in the “west” are increasingly exposed to the eastern teachings and the inner journey, psychologists will be called upon to help in the access to the inner journey. Bechsgaard and McCann’s book can serve as a reference for anyone who cares deeply about what self-development truly is. […] Bechsgaard and McCann have brilliantly captured and summarized the developmental wisdom of the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, and Jnaneshwar’s Gita so that today’s seeker can come to realize what has been known for ages. […] Today’s helping, healing, and growth-potential profession can be accelerated and advanced by turning to Bechsgaard and McCann’s lifelong study and now brilliantly summarized work.”
Denise Daniels, PhD
The Patterns of Developmental Processing Group

“Once again, Gitte Bechsgaard and Gillian McCann have shared with the reader their combined knowledge of philosophy, psychology, religious and spiritual practices of yoga and the importance of the ancient spiritual texts in understanding one’s responsibility for correct action in the present for the betterment of the future. This book is a must-read for all interested in yogic philosophy and/or wanting to live a yogic life to free oneself from entanglements with nature and from the shackles of our lower tendencies.”
Gloria Goldberg, MA
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher/Level 4

“In Yoga and Alignment: From the Upanishads to B.K.S. Iyengar, the authors Gitte Bechsgaard and Gillian McCann treat the spiritual principles from ancient India. […] Bechsgaard, a Sanskritist, jyotishi, certified Iyengar instructor and registered psychotherapist, and McCann, Associate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department of Nipissing University, Canada, combine their abundant professional training and life experience to articulate an approach to yoga philosophy that is grounded in real-world concerns without getting side-tracked in esoteric dialectics. The book’s pragmatism centres on alignment of body, mind, heart, and soul to aid the migration toward healthy living in a complex hyper-digitalised 21st century. With prose that is clear and engaging, the text’s relevance for contemporary readers hinges in part on deftly intertwining traditional Eastern language with modern Western psychology. […] In its brief 150 pages, Yoga and Alignment offers a broad treatment of yogic spirituality suited to the interests of seekers and academics alike. While readers need not have advanced knowledge of the topic, those who are versed in the literature will likewise find the book’s style and method refreshing and pertinent.”
Michael Highburger
Practicing monk at the Ramana Ashrama, India

“Yoga and Alignment: From the Upanishads to B.K.S Iyengar gives a straightforward introduction to the fundamental philosophical elements of yoga, in which all Sanskrit terms are thoroughly explained. The many references to postmodern Western lifestyle and mindset, make the book highly relevant for Western yoga practitioners. With the increased popularity and secularization of yoga in the West, it is refreshing to find the authors’ emphasis on yoga as a practice of realigning with the divine. For many readers, it will be an eye-opener to read about the multifaceted aspects of yogic worldview and to find that it can be relevant for practitioners from different religious traditions.”
Rev. Nicolaj Stubbe Hørlyck
Lutheran pastor and yoga practitioner, Brorsons Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-6474-6

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6474-9

Release Date: 8th February 2021

Pages: 151

Price: £58.99

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