Book review: ‘Meditations from the Mat’ |

Book review: ‘Meditations from the Mat’

Andrew Fersch
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyTitle: "Meditations from the Mat"

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Movies and TV shows have always thrived on making fun of what people don’t understand, so have many ignorant folks in the world. These days you’d be hard-pressed to not see some sort of mocking of the un-manliness or absurdity of yoga if you watched enough of the stuff being put out there. This is just the natural human reaction to not understanding something, being uncomfortable about it and shunning it through mockery.

Former Army Ranger and (real) wrestler Rolf Gates may not have understood yoga when he first started out either, clearly though he has not only gained knowledge about the physical practice of it but he has worked towards understanding how yoga is much more than sun salutations.

In daily journal entries, Gates shares the knowledge he has garnered from his daily practice. He does a truly terrific job explaining the ideas that are yoga. Gates breaks down yoga into sections, the Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Just those words alone might make the average person cringe with confusion and want to put down the book. Given the opportunity though, Rolf not only explains to the reader just what each step means, he also gives examples from his own painful and joyous life.

By using quotes from rock bands, artists, politicians, and of course a yogi or two, Rolf manages to make a potentially scary new topic friendly to just about any audience (and most especially to men who might otherwise be hesitant to give something like yoga a chance). The entries range from a few sentences to a few paragraphs and are clearly meant to be read one a day with time given for reflection on what is being said. Gates bares his soul in the hopes that the reader will do the same for themselves.

Rolf Gates may not be the most well-known name in yoga yet but he is certainly the most down to earth and the most comprehensible. So maybe you did see someone take a poke at yoga on TV and got to thinking “I wonder what the big deal is” or maybe you are a regular at yoga class, either way this book will give you a better idea of what yoga is actually about. Give it a read ” and don’t be scared of learning something new.

Andrew Fersch writes weekly book reviews for the Vail Daily. E-mail comments about this review to This book is available for purchase at The Bookworm in Edwards.

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