• Amber

Book Review: Yoga of Courage and Compassion by William Yang



The main thing about Yoga of Courage and Compassion is that it is a quick reference directed to Christians, it seems, who may be looking for relatability in Buddhist pranayama (breathing yoga) and meditation. I personally don't think anyone outside Christianity or Buddhism will get as much out of the text; however, the instructions for meditating are secular for the most part and embrace Yoga's universality.


Author William Yang is certainly notable, but for someone with his voluminous amount of experience, I expected a lot more depth. You won't be getting a text book like Bessel vanderKolk or Stephen Porges explaining any science connection to the mind-body experience here. Yet, Yang's experience is "decades of teaching yoga and meditation to cancer patients." His work is considered so notable in the Netherlands and India that he became a knight of the order of Oranje Nassau bestowed by Queen Beatrix. Needless to say, I expected more than what feels like notes taken during a weekend Yoga retreat on pranayama.


I found pleasurable passages and useful bits throughout. I just don't think the book matches the advertising as a book on courage and compassion when it focuses so much on how two large religions have common ground in non-duality.


If you're a believer in dualism, then I would definitely not recommend this book unless you're looking for a tiny bit of insight (and I mean tiny). This book I would recommend again, only to yoga teachers or those leading a Bible study/Xian workshop who are also interested in seeing where their non-dualism intersects with ONE specific type of Buddhism from the Tibetan School of Mahayan Buddhism.


The illustrations started out confusing though beautiful in singular inked brush strokes like Japanese silk painting. They get better by chapter three where you are shown more details and can make out the human figure easily.


Each chapter follows a formula:


  • The text to explain the intersection of the two religions regarding that chapter's theme (letting go, emptiness, accepting compassion, et al.).

  • Then it has the breathing and meditation exercises. First if "Buddha's Basic Breathing Meditation" of taking 10 cycles of breath.

  • Then the following meditations vary slightly from chapter to chapter but follow a formula of including small movements, mudras, sounds, and visualization.

Rating: 3/5 stars


3 stars may seem harsh, but I think the audience for this is so niche that it's not something people seeking guides on meditation will appreciate.

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