An informative manual for explorers of taiji and qigong.

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BRAIN FITNESS

THE EASY WAY OF KEEPING YOUR MIND SHARP THROUGH QIGONG

A guide offers exercises for the mind, body, and spirit.

Mixing Western medicine with Eastern traditions, Kuhn (Tai Chi for Depression, 2017, etc.) introduces the reader to two worthy “internal energy workouts”: taiji and qigong. Both blend meditation and exercise and are, according to the author, excellent ways to counter the damages of aging that affect bodies and minds. Taking a holistic approach to health, Kuhn advocates a regimen of simple exercises that will keep the body in balance, sharpening memory and holding diseases at bay: “If you move your body in an energetic way every day,” writes Kuhn, “you can change your life and your health.” Following an explanation of the history and philosophy of qigong and its younger offshoot, taiji, the author describes the positive effects of these practices on the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, as well as how they increase stamina, bolster the immune system, and correct chemical imbalances. She then goes through the various exercises, providing photographic examples and paragraphs explaining the goals and payoffs of each one. The author also advises the reader on other activities—such as singing and socializing—that supplement these exercises. Excerpts from the Tao Te Ching and a list of recommended reading round out this primer for anyone embracing these Chinese workouts. Kuhn writes in a clear prose that is simple to follow. She makes a compelling case for the exercises and the philosophy behind them. Even those who are unconvinced of the validity of traditional Chinese medicine should find sound advice for healthy living in these pages. But some chapters feel redundant, repeating information—such as the benefits of taiji—found elsewhere in the book. Similarly, a vague mystical language permeates the volume (“Shen refers to our spiritual energy, our highest consciousness, a reconnection with universal energies”), which may put off more skeptical readers. But those curious about traditional Chinese exercise or interested in a holistic program of health with a philosophical bent should find much of value in this work. As Kuhn likes to remind the reader, these are exercises for all ages, and the younger one starts, the better.

An informative manual for explorers of taiji and qigong.

Pub Date: July 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59439-524-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: YMAA Publication Center

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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