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If you’re trying to brush up on your yoga skills, there’s no shortage of workshops, Zoom classes, and yoga books You can try. But when you’re trying to learn a new skill — or brush up on an older one — you might want to get out those crayons. Two new coloring books (yes, for adults) promise to help you deepen your understanding of yoga—both the physical practice and the philosophy.
Coloring for adults to relieve stress
When coloring for adults became a trend a few years ago, it was presented as a nostalgic way to relax and relieve stress. I jumped on the bandwagon and bought an artful mandala book and a box of crayons containing all the colors of creation. I’ve always had an artistic bent and thought it would be a way to awaken my latent abilities. The promise of quiet was a bonus.
But trying to follow the intricate patterns and staying within the lines sparked a lifetime perfectionism I didn’t want to wake up again. For me it was more boring than relaxing.
Instead, I bought a regular Tinker Bell coloring book for kids and an 8-pack of Crayolas. I lay down on the living room floor and was immediately put back in second class – and an unusual sense of calm.
How painting can help you learn
As it turns out, the relaxing nature of coloring doesn’t just help your stress levels; it can make your brain receptive to learning. Researchers found that participants who colored a mandala for 20 minutes were calmer and happier than participants who were asked to read a passage of text. But they also saw an increase creativitywhich enables people to approach complex problems from different perspectives.
Painting can also be a fun and artistic way to help your brain retain new information. In educational circles there is a concept called multisensory teaching. The idea is that when you’re trying to embed a new or complex concept or remember detailed information, it might “stick” better if you involve more of your senses. coloring matters. The texture of the paper, the waxy smell of crayons, the vivid colors are registered in different parts of your brain. Color is particularly effective in helping you learn and remember information.
Of course, no two people’s brains work the same; we all learn in different ways. For some people, hands-on experience can be less effective than reading about yoga. Coloring could be an especially helpful approach for people who are creative and responsive to images or colors. These new coloring books use the creative and cognitive benefits of coloring to help you take your yoga skills to the next level.
Color the sutras
The Yoga Sutras of the Patanjali Coloring Book Series
by Rebecca Polack
Based on the belief that “wisdom unfolds through play”, author, illustrator and yoga teacher Rebecca Polak has created a series of coloring books that translate Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras into images. There is a book for each of the four chapters: Book one deals with the Samādhi Pāda, the chapter on meditation; Book two is the Sādhana Pāda, the chapter on practice. This month Polack published the Vibhūti Pāda, the chapter on special powers. The final chapter – on liberation, the Kaivalya Pāda – is forthcoming.
For each of the 196 sutras, she has written a page with the sutra in Sanskrit and the English translation in a hand-drawn script. The words are surrounded by images of animals, flowers and plants in an intricate tapestry inspired by madhubanī, a folk art form from northern India. Polack presents this “purposeful coloring” as a departure from traditional learning methods and calls it a transformative practice.
Yoga anatomy in color
The Anatomy of Yoga Coloring Book: Learn the form and biomechanics of more than 50 asanas
by Jo Ann Staugaard Jones
There are many excellent anatomy books on the shelves – and most have intricately detailed pictures to illustrate the parts of the body. But if you spend time coloring the muscle or tracing the line of a tendon to its insertion, you can remember the information more vividly.
The book contains more than 50 complete asanas as well as anatomical drawings of body systems – nerves, fascia, muscles, skeleton, digestion and respiration. There are even sites that cover that chakras and the subtle body, as well as movement and levels of the body. At more than 200 pages, it is as detailed as any yoga anatomy book. The difference is that you can make it your own.
Get in touch with your inner child
If, like me, you need a super hassle-free color option, try a Yoga coloring book for kids. There are several on the market – most demonstrating simple poses. While they may not help you learn the sutras or brush up on your anatomy, lying on the floor with a fresh pack of crayons may bring out that carefree child in you.
Tamara Jeffries is Senior Editor at Yoga Journal who loves both books and art.