Many pagans work with the charkas and do yoga, but often have forgotten that the roots of these arts come from India, and the yogis.  According to the introduction, Ms. Shumsky spent 21 years studying under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, part of the time in India. This gives her a unique view of Eastern systems like chakras and yoga -- a level of understanding that many in the Western world probably cannot achieve. Personally, I have found most books on this subject either superficial (generally written by Westerners) or impenetrable (generally written by someone from the East).

She begins with explanations of the basics: what the kundalini force is, what a chakra is, what prana is, what yoga is, etc. in clear, simple and direct language and then goes on to discuss your subtle bodies and their relationship to the macrocosm. Interestingly, you aren’t introduced to the details of the chakras until nearly halfway through the book. All of this background material is interesting, assisted by numerous illustrations and charts. In the second section the reader begins to learn how to understand and awaken her chakras. Each charka focuses on a single chakra, including basic exercises to open that chakra. The final section discusses awakening and using kundalini power.

Ms. Shumsky does not claim to be able to convey all the necessary knowledge in this one book, and it is obviously intended to be used along with its companion, Exploring Meditation (which I did not have a copy of to review). I particularly liked the fact that she recommends finding a teacher to work with through the intense experiences you will most likely encounter if you decide to go deeper into this area. Although intended as an introduction (albeit an intense one), if you are interested in learning about the chakras, I think this book is an excellent place to begin.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Susan G. Shumsky

New Page Books, 2003

pp. 284, $14.99

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