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Author Archives: Zak Kotlow

About Zak Kotlow

Zak has two master's degrees in philosophy, from Brandeis University and University of California Santa Barbara. He is currently the lead editor for Dungeons in a Box, and he spends much of his time in the realm of fantasy crafting new plots and ensuring the adventure is in mechanical balance. When he's not DMing, he also enjoys hiking, studying eastern philosophy, and playing board games.

Cool Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman

Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman
O-Books, 1789043514, 128 pages, December 2020

When picking up Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman, I really didn’t know what to expect. In what way was this book going to approach the idea of sex being cool? What I found was a fascinating examination of a sexual style that is (apparently) foreign to most sexually active people. I admit, I certainly had no knowledge of what the authors were about to present.

I was quickly drawn in by the meaning of “cool sex,” which Richardson and Doelman contrast with “hot sex.” Hot sex is the too-often dominant style of sex, characterized by fast, vigorous, and highly-stimulating activity that is intended to reach a peak orgasm. It is goal-oriented for one or both partners. This type of sex, while very exciting, is usually accompanied by a drop in energy after sex, and can also give rise to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Cool sex, on the other hand, is sex that is focused on awareness of the present moment: it has no goal. Instead, cool sex is about relaxing and opening the body to the flow of sexual energy between you and your partner. Through the techniques and mindful practice that Richardson and Doeleman describe, sex can become much more intimate, connected, and loving for everyone involved.

“[Y]our attention is directed inside your body, feeling any subtle or delicate good feelings inside of you. And you keep on feeling yourself – moment by moment. It is very much a meditation and mindfulness practice.”1

The authors describe the origins of cool sex, such as the tantric traditions in India, and present cool sex as a form of neo-tantra, where sexual activity is an aspect of spirituality. But the goal of the book is not just to offer a fresh perspective on ancient methods and ideas around sex. Richardson and Doeleman seek to help disabuse their readers of the idea that sex should/must be hot and goal-oriented (all the time).

While there is nothing inherently wrong with hot sex, the authors urge that exploring sex through relaxation and awareness can reveal new depths of sensitivity and result in wholly different forms of ecstasy — forms which heighten your creative, kundalini energy rather than diminish it through release (orgasm).

One of the most interesting points in the application of cool sex to both men and women is that each sex has a positive and negative energetic pole. These poles exist in different areas for males and females. By learning how to lovingly increase the flow of energy between these poles on yourself and your partner, your connection deepens. The authors provide plenty of advice and instructions about how to gently tend to these poles for relaxation and preparation for sex. I found these suggestions immeasurably helpful helping to create a relaxing and loving state, regardless of whether we ended up having sex.

Along with a deeper energetic and physical connection, cool sex also increases emotional openness between partners. Richardson and Doeleman also emphasize that the mindfulness of cool sex can help work through emotional tension, as partners will be more attuned to their own feelings and needs, as well as more receptive to the other person. Specific methods suggested in the book may also be useful for healing old emotional wounds, stored as tension in the genital region. But again, cool sex isn’t about having a goal (even the goal of healing) to accomplish. Cool sex is about being present to your sensations/feelings and allowing sexual energy to flow between partners.

Throughout the book, the authors regularly use testimonial quotes from interviews with people who’ve used these practices. Although making the switch to cool sex can take time and may not be super exciting at the start, these testimonials help to reassure the reader that allowing this practice to unfold in its own time yields amazing, deeply loving experiences. These quotes help the reader easily identify with other people who’d never considered an alternative to hot sex before, but are now reaping the benefits of these practices.

Overall, this book is a pleasure to read. The writing flowed nicely and each chapter is broken down into several sections to make the contents clear and digestible. Although Cool Sex could be a jumping-off point for someone interested in learning more about tantra, it is a unique guide that stands on its own. The authors do a great job of showing us an alternative to the common style of hot sex and providing a diverse range of meditations, techniques, and simple advice to help us all cool sex down and relax into ecstasy.


My husband (Zak from above) and I intended to write our own parts to do this review jointly, but I think he’s succinctly summed up the premise of Cool Sex. Rather than go into details, I am going to add in my own bit about how beneficial this book has been for our relationship.

I think cool sex is something I had been seeking for a while, but didn’t even know was a thing. Yes, it’s fun to get hot and heavy at a moment’s notice, but early on in my sexual journey, I realized how fleeting that moment was — often over within a quarter of an hour. I longed for a way to connect for longer periods of time in a more intimate way now that I’ve married a man I truly adore. The ability to sustain our passion and connect sexually in a way that feels genuine is a true gift that Cool Sex has provided us with.

My favorite thing about the book was the suggestions the authors make for stimulating energy flow between my husband and me. They discuss the polarity of male and female bodies. Generally, women have a positive pole at their breasts and negative pole at their yoni. For men, the positive pole is the perineum and the negative pole is the chest. Realizing this, we’ve been able to better guide the energy in our love-making to align with this polarity, and it feels really good so far!

To be honest, previously my breasts often were never the focal point during sex, but now they have taken center-stage. Much to my delight, based on the information about how the heart is the source of a female’s outward energy, I’ve discovered a whole new relationship with my breasts. I now notice them throughout the day, intentionally stimulate them with kindness and love, and sense into how this connection affects my energy. This has been truly life changing!

Practicing cool sex together has been a fun, exploratory experience for my husband and I because it makes us more aware of how we’re cultivating and sharing our sexual energy. When things start getting hot, we can slow it down with laughter when we realize and then fall back into a more sensual rhythm.

This practice really makes it feel like the love-making is coming from within, rather than guided by external expectations of how sex should be based on cultural portrayals of it. It’s nice to not feel the pressure to sexually perform, and rather have the opportunity to sink in and enjoy the moment. I think this is the secret I’ve been looking for all along!

I think many people would greatly benefit from reading Cool Sex and integrating the practices into their love-making. (I will note that it seems primarily intended for cis-heterosexual couples, but the principles of cool sex are applicable in all sexual relationships.) So far, integrating the information presented has certainly has cultivated new layers of intimacy in our relationship, and we are only at the start of this practice. I look forward to slowing it down even more as we become more comfortable with cool sex. I’m in it for the long-haul with my hubby anyway, so we might as well savor every last drop together, and this book teaches the sexual techniques to do just that. 🙂

The Lotus and the Bud, by Christopher Kilham

The Lotus and the Bud: Cannabis, Consciousness, and Yoga Practice, by Christopher S. Kilham
Park Street Press, 192 pages, 1620559404, January 2021

The Lotus and the Bud: Cannabis, Consciousness, and Yoga Practice by Christopher S. Kilham is a wonderful guide to deepening one’s explorations into the expanded states of consciousness offered through yoga practice. Unlike most texts on the practice of yoga, however, this one provides knowledge, methods, and advice about how to awaken one’s kundalini energy by combining yogic discipline with the mindful use of cannabis.

Kilham draws upon his decades of yoga practice and the accumulated experiences of his travels around the world to present a comprehensive look at how ganja – his preferred term for this plant medicine – is a perfect companion for fostering growth in the connection between mind, body, and spirit.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone seeking to cultivate an intimate, free-flowing connection with the Universe: to experience the unity of all that is. Yet, while The Lotus and the Bud is incredibly digestible and easy to read, its content is not intended for someone simply looking to spice up their yoga practice. The techniques and wisdom that Kilham offers are geared toward a holistic shift in one’s life.

“In my fifty years of daily practice, I have come to regard yoga as a cosmic current of pure wisdom consciousness that runs through human history. . . Yoga does not choose us because we are special in any manner, but simply suitable for the task of carrying illumination forward.”1

What Kilham presents in The Lotus and the Bud is not merely for the sake of relieving pain, strengthening the body, or calming the mind. Although the practices found in the book can accomplish these ends to a superb degree, the true power of the techniques lies in realizing ultimate oneness with the Universe, and revealing that truth through our daily lives.

He emphatically urges the reader that stepping onto the yoga mat means bringing your whole self to the party: coming to your practice with sincerity, respect, and determination. This naturally entails that you should never infuse with ganja to the extent that you lose the focus and intent of your practice. Being thoroughly baked is good for a cake, not so much for a yogi.

In the first section of the book, and scattered throughout the rest of the text, is an account of Kilham’s own yogic journey, including the insights he learned along the way from teachers, gurus, and his experiences with psychoactive substances and plant medicines. One of the most interesting aspects of this introduction to Kilham’s story is how he navigated the (sometimes treacherous) waters of gurus when he was a young man, learning to discern true teachers from self-serving frauds.

Here, and throughout The Lotus and the Bud, the reader will find many amusing and intriguing quotes about cannabis and its use. These quotes come from people spanning all of history, as well as the present day: from music icons, to U. S. presidents, to Middle Eastern folklore and mythology. My favorite is from Stephen Gray:

“When someone first smokes cannabis, and the conditions are right, something remarkable and concerning happens. . . The user is suddenly thrust upon a world of wonder, relaxation, humor, passion, creativity, and perhaps even gnosis.”2

The book winds its way through the history, cultural milieu, and spiritual significance of yoga and cannabis, each with its own dedicated section. Kilham provides a succinct overview of the chakras and the general essence of yogic practice. His purpose is not to provide a full treatise on yoga and its practice, but he does well in establishing the groundwork so that even a yoga novitiate can understand the guiding principles. In a similar vein, Kilham presents a brief, multicultural account of cannabis, its use throughout history, and defends its validity as a medicinal herb.

What I enjoyed most about these informative sections is the frequent inclusion of mythology. In fact, the reader will learn that, in Hindu culture, yoga and cannabis have one and the same origin – the god Siva. Even in ancient times, these people recognized that yoga and ganja were a match made in heaven, both presented as gifts to humanity so that we might experience “absorption into limitless and unfathomable spirit.”3

As with any mythological viewpoint, one doesn’t need to share a literal belief about the origin of these gifts, but I think it creates a beautiful link between past and present, especially after cannabis was so fiercely attacked and regulated in more recent eras. Our recent (re)discovery of the beneficial nature of ganja, in particular, and its potent combination with yoga is rightly seen as a continuation of physical, mental, and spiritual explorations that have gone on throughout human history.

Kilham also is also very good at weaving in the current scientific investigations and discoveries with the historical narrative of ganja. The recent findings about the body’s endocannabinoid system reveal that it has the ability to affect almost every other system and organ. Kilham observes that infusing ganja into yoga practice allows one to better tune in to the flow of energy within the body. Since the endocannabinoid system assists in holistic regulation of the body, Kilham thinks its functions correspond to the activity of the energetic body: notably, the chakra energy centers.

The second half of the book contains more direct guidance from Kilham about the proper attitudes and helpful techniques that will make the most of your ganja-yoga experience. One piece of advice that I’d never heard before was to focus on feeling rather than visualizing during yoga. Although visualization can be helpful in expanding your awareness of the body’s energetic flow, Kilham’s experience suggests that feeling into what’s taking place in your corporeal form is a path of direct access to your energetic state. He also covers the gamut of methods for infusing with cannabis, and presents good reasons why some are better for this practice than others.

Finally, Kilham goes through a fair number of yoga asanas, meditation, and relaxation techniques that he recommends specifically for expanding your kundalini energy. For each of these, he provides clear and simple instructions as well as a list of mental and physical benefits.

In all, I found The Lotus and the Bud as a surprisingly comprehensive dive into the beautiful and beneficial relationship between ganja and yoga. Kilham brings a bounty of learning to the table, using both academic research and life experience to convey the wisdom found in the marriage between the lotus and the bud. Although it will take time and dedication to unlock the full splendor of Siva’s gifts, the journey sounds well-worth the effort.

Temporal Experience of Flow

Introduction – Different Experiences of Time

We are all familiar with phrases like “Time flies when you’re having fun,” or the feeling that some activity (e.g. a boring class or meeting) seems like it’s taking forever to finish. These are examples of our subjective perspective of time and how it seems to speed up or slow down under different circumstances. Although these experiences sound odd when compared to the “everyday” perception of time as a uniform succession of events, the feeling that time is sped up or slowed down is undoubtedly common and relatable.

While I do not intend to set down a complete explanation of this phenomenon, I propose that we might be able to understand such experiences by applying a metaphor. Specifically, we could consider our experience of time – especially, the perceived rate at which it “flows” – to be like the effects of time dilation. Perhaps this description is not merely metaphorical, but I leave that judgement up to the reader.

Time Dilation – Just the Basics

I am no expert in physics, and don’t purport to have mastery over the concepts involved, which is why I choose to present this as a metaphorical explanation rather than a straight-forward application of scientific principles. For those who are less familiar with time dilation, the basic idea is there is a difference in the time measured by two observers as a result of a difference in velocity (or gravitational potential) relative to one another. So, if person A is moving at a higher speed compared to person B, it will seem to person A that more time elapsed for person B than the time that elapsed for person A themselves.

Put another way, person A’s watch will record that less time has passed than the time recorded by person B’s watch. However, this effect is miniscule in the context of relative velocities that we are familiar with in everyday life. For this effect to be noticeable in the hard scientific sense, person A would need to be moving at incredible speeds – near or equal to the speed of light.1

The Symbolic Nature of Time

For our purposes here, we’ll not be concerned with what two clocks tell us about the passage of time. Clocks measure time only in the sense that human society has established a certain metric (a system of measurement) and we compare what our personal clocks say (our phone, watch, grandfather clock) to that “objective” metric. That is to say, clocks only measure other clocks. Naturally, through scientific discoveries, we’ve come up with more and more precise ways to calibrate our clocks to one another (e.g. using the rate of decay of atoms).

Yet, achieving higher degrees of precision does not avoid the fundamental point that time – as something that can be measured – is not a feature of the Universe. It is, instead, a symbolic, representational system imposed by humans to effectively coordinate our activities. We can, of course, choose natural phenomena to serve as the basis of that metric (e.g. the decay of atoms, the speed of light, the rotation of the earth, etc.), but the chosen metric is only a reference point for clocks. In no case have we established anything about the flow of time as something we experience.

The Flow State

Let’s return to the opening idea that our experience of the passage of time varies in different contexts. One of the most demonstrative examples of this idea is the “flow experience,” a particular state of consciousness described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.2 Again, I will not dig deeply into this intriguing phenomena, but only provide a brief overview of the idea (though I encourage readers to pursue the topic on their own!). In its simplest form, the flow state is characterized by being completely engrossed in your current activity – to the extent that you lose conscious awareness of pretty much everything else: other people, bodily needs, and time.

The person in flow (unintentionally) merges their awareness with their actions to such an extent that self-reflective consciousness is no longer present. Put another way, your attention becomes so focused on the activity that none of your attention is available to put toward other activities, thoughts, or concerns. The do-er and the activity being done become one and the same, with the action-reaction interplay becoming nearly simultaneous and indistinguishable. What’s more, the experience of flow is also described as being intrinsically rewarding – the subjective value of engaging in the activity is potentially limitless.

This analysis of the flow state comes from a psychological lens: what’s going on in the individual’s conscious experience. However, what does this psychological state tell us about the relationship between the person in flow and the world around them? Csíkszentmihályi describes the state of flow as an “optimal” experience. True or not, I’m interested to see what this psychological state indicates about one’s state of being. As an aside, we should not overlook that the experience of flow can’t be reported while it is occurring, as reporting on the state of consciousness would be a self-reflective activity (and thus, the person would no longer be in the flow state). The experience of flow can only be described after the fact, which always comes with complications: memory can be a fickle thing.

Vibration

Returning to the main thread, what is the link between time dilation and flow, or any other instance in which our sense of time doesn’t conform to the “typical” experience of time? My suggestion is that it all has to do with vibration. There are several senses to this word, whether we want to talk about physical phenomena – the vibration of particles and energy – or the more “New-Agey” way we might talk about a person, event, or experience having a higher/lower vibration. I intend to use ‘vibration’ in both senses – after all, words don’t always have to be used with a single, explicit meaning (something we tend to forget as modern English speakers)3. What’s more, the latter sense of the word is at least partially derived from the scientific usage, so the two meanings already have a linguistic connection.

However, the non-scientific meaning of ‘vibration’ also comes from ideas in Indian philosophy and spirituality; Om from Hindu/Vedic and Buddhist traditions is the symbol of cosmic vibration, signifying the fundamental essence of reality. That the entire Universe (and therefore persons, events, etc.) is a confluence of vibrations is a notion that was around long before any scientific ideas about particles and energy. All that to say, let’s not get ourselves stuck by clinging to one, explicit meaning of ‘vibration.’ The core idea that I want to draw on is that our individual experience is in some way constituted by vibrations: our physical bodies could be described as vibrating “wavicles” of energy that are embedded in the larger field of wavicles that is the Cosmos.

Conscious Experience as a Frame of Reference

So, let’s start putting all the pieces together. To reiterate: time dilation occurs when the measurement of time from one frame of reference (or, perspective) does not correspond to the measurement of time in a second frame of reference – this is due to the difference in velocity between the two frames of reference. The difference in velocity usually has to be quite large for this effect to be noticeable when we are measuring time with clocks. But perhaps this does not have to be the case if we consider our frames of reference to be a person’s experience of time: i.e. their individual perspective as a locus of experience.

Thus, if my immediate/direct experience establishes a particular frame of reference, then time dilation could occur when comparing my experience to that of another person.  Either experience could include awareness of time as it is being measured by a clock. Whether this description is strictly metaphorical, or we wish to expand our concept of time dilation to include differing experiences of time, this idea seems to have some fascinating implications. 

Flow: Psychological and Metaphysical

In particular, let’s consider what this could indicate about the state of flow. Earlier I noted that the flow state describes a particular mode of conscious experience. But I suggest that we can expand on that idea. This state of consciousness could be a reflection of the individual’s overall state of being – a metaphysical state – a general idea which is not uncommon to many spiritual, mystical, or philosophical traditions, especially those originating in Asia. The Vedic and Buddhist traditions originating from India, Taoism from China, and many of their offshoots such as Zen all make use of the idea that, in some sense, reality is a manifestation of consciousness.

This metaphysical state is where vibration comes in. When in flow, the person experiences a unity between their actions and the responses from their environment. Put in terms of vibration, the individual as a pattern of vibration has completely merged with the vibration of the Cosmos. The “two” patterns of vibration have merged so seamlessly that the distinction between “the person” and “the environment/Universe” disappears. This description probably sounds familiar to those who’ve studied Taoism, Zen, and other mystic traditions. This is no accident, as the flow state seems to be a (western) psychological perspective of the kind of pure awareness often ascribed to mystical states of consciousness: satori, nirvana, and the like. As such, I cannot claim to be saying anything new or revelatory with regard to flow as a state of consciousness. But I do hope to offer an insight on the shift in temporal experience which seems to occur in such states.

Conclusion – In the Flow State, We See Time Dilate

The final move I wish to make is the suggestion that we can combine the idea of a perspectival frame of reference and this metaphysical state of flow. If we accept the suggestion that a person’s experiential perspective can serve as a frame of reference, we can then ask: what happens when that frame of reference merges with the frame of reference of the (local) Universe?

If the individual’s vibration is in complete harmony with the surrounding vibration of the Cosmos, I suggest that there would be little (or no) experience of time as we would normally describe it: a linear sequence of changes, or something to that effect. In a typical state of consciousness, we are aware of the changes that occur around us – changes considered separate from the consciousness that is aware of them. But when one’s vibration is in tune with the vibration of the Cosmos, consciousness is no longer tracking changes as something happening apart from, or Other than, itself. With this harmony of vibration, there is no resistance to change: no restriction to the flow of the Universe.

Meanwhile, for someone outside the state of flow, consciousness keeps itself involved with tracking the changes in case something “goes wrong” and must be altered, fixed, or corrected. This sort of thinking creates resistance, and so, from that frame of reference, an experience of sequential/linear time.


Thus, the person in the flow state experiences no resistance – their “actions” are indistinguishable from the ever-flowing changes of the Universe. Their experience of time (if it can be called an experience of time at all!) is of the ever-manifesting present, the NOW, the Tao. 4

Yoga by the Stars, by Jilly Shipway

Yoga by the Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac, by Jilly Shipway
Llewellyn Publications, 0738763866, 272 pages, December 2020

When I was looking for something to shake up and add new dimensions to my yoga routine, I couldn’t have done better than to pick up Yoga By The Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac by Jilly Shipway. Although my knowledge of astrology isn’t expansive, I found Shipway’s book to be both accessible and inspiring. I love how she marries yoga practices tailored to each sign of the zodiac with meditative practices, prompts, and reflective exercises – all of which coalesce into a holistic dive through the “archetypal personalities” represented by the star signs.

Yoga By The Stars is broken into two main parts. In Part 1, Shipway outlines her general approach and provides some background information on both yoga and astrology. Part 2 consists of the twelve monthly practices corresponding to the signs of the zodiac, starting with Aries and moving through the rest of the astrological year.

Although one might expect to find only a unique yoga routine in each chapter of Part 2, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of ideas and practices in these sections. It is clear that Shipway put great care and thought into devising both the yoga sequences, the series of meditation prompts, and exploratory exercises for each month of the zodiac.

From the get-go in Part 1, Shipway assures the reader that no prior knowledge of astrology is necessary to explore the practices offered in Yoga By The Stars. Nor does one need to be an advanced yogi to complete the routines found in the book, though at least some experience with yoga asanas (poses) is definitely a plus.

Shipway proposes that undertaking a practice mixing astrological energy with yoga, one can embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge through observing how each of these archetypal personalities manifest within us, connecting us mind, body, and spirit to the vast cosmos.

She distinguishes herself from other astrologers in that she does not present an astrological yoga practice for the purpose of prediction, but treats the zodiac “as twelve archetypal personalities who are universally recognized and resonate with something deep in our own psyche.”1

One of the most integrative aspects of Shipway’s process is how she attunes the yoga practice to the cycles of the stars and seasons. Although the practices in Yoga By The Stars can be undertaken at any time during the year, she recommends using the practice of each sign during its time in the yearly cycle. This method will help us to align ourselves with the energy of that sign and, as a result, explore that aspect of ourselves which resonates with that archetypal personality.

Shipway also offers affirmations that can be used before, during, or after the yoga routine – or really, anytime one wants to while the Sun transits the particular sign of the zodiac. Furthermore, the meditation questions the author provides at the end of every chapter offer great ways to tune in to the perspective offered by each sign. Through contemplating or journaling about these questions, one can engage in both plumbing the depths of self-knowledge and engaging with the perspective offered by the sign.

Delving into Part 2 of the text, I found that using mantras during the yoga practice helped focus my attention and help tune my breath to my mind and body. I especially loved Shipway’s affirmation for the Pisces practice: In – A flower blossoms. Out – With each breath.2 She counsels the reader to use this meditation with the breath cycle to create the experience of continual renewal.

Each line of the mantra is a beginning as well as an ending, easing the yogi into a rhythmic cycle of breath and focused concentration. When implementing this in my own yoga practice, the continual use of the zodiac mantras, which I did for both Aquarius and Pisces season, helped me tap in and flow with the movements more deeply and easily than in much of my normal yoga regimen. I also felt a great sense of connection to the astrological energy of the moment as well, heightening my attunement to the current season.

Those already familiar with astrology, especially as a spiritual practice, know that attunement to the cycles of Nature is a critical method to harmonize oneself with the flow of the Cosmos. In addition to the guidance and exercises the author provides, Yoga By The Stars also contains little gems of wisdom interspersed throughout each chapter. This gave me the sense that Shipway truly embodies her craft, inspiring the reader to move beyond yoga as simply a kind of exercise to embracing its spiritual depths.

“Yoga is a rainbow bridge uniting heaven and earth. It celebrates an embodied spirituality lived out in cycles. The Sun rises, the Sun sets, and the next morning rises again.”3

Unfortunately, I have yet to complete an entire yoga cycle around the zodiac before having to write this review. I could have gone through and tried each of the yoga sequences for the different signs a couple times, but this did not feel quite right. Each yoga set, along with the accompanying meditation questions, invites one to really dig in deep to the energy of each sign. Moving too quickly between one sign and the next makes it difficult to truly connect with and embody each archetypal personality, so I’ve only done the sequences I’ve had the book for thus far.

Although practicing a yoga sequence from any book can be difficult, Shipway made it as easy as possible. Each asana of a sequence is thoroughly described and accompanied by simple stick-figure illustrations to guide the reader. Moreover, she summarizes each sequence in the form of a list as well as the complete series of illustrations. This was immensely helpful in thoroughly learning the yoga routine without having to flip through the book in the midst of practice. And once I’d gotten down the basic sequence after doing it daily for about a week, I was easily able to incorporate variations depending upon what I was feeling that day.

What really solidified the experience and growth in understanding the archetypal personalities was drawing upon the meditation prompts when I was away from the yoga mat. Whether it was before bed or at some random point during the day, one of the month’s prompts would breeze across my mind. Although I did not always have time to consciously contemplate the question, I knew that some part of my psyche was working through the idea and, thus, helping to ground me in the mindset of the month’s sign.

Overall, I cannot give enough praise to Shipway’s Yoga By The Stars! Writing a book to teach yoga sequences is difficult enough on its own, let alone integrating the practice with thought-provoking and inspiring astrological concepts. Shipway’s writing is inviting and easy to follow, with enough detail when needed, but not so much that it overwhelms the reader or turns into a treatise. Her masterful combination of yoga and meditation exercises is perfect for anyone interested in expanding their practice both on and off the mat. And even though the book is beginner-friendly, readers with advanced knowledge of astrology and/or yoga will find something unique and enlightening in Shipway’s  merging of the two practices.