There are dozens of forms of yoga, but Laya Yoga (Layayoga) is one of the most accessible for Westerners. It is one of the four great systems of yoga, and deals with the supersensible functions, forces and centers of the inner world of the body. The other three are Hatha Yoga, the most familiar, which deals with the physical body, its power and functions. Hatha Yoga seeks to affect the subtle systems through control of the gross physical body. Mantra Yoga is concerned with the forces and powers outside the body, but which affect it nonetheless. Raja Yoga is the system for disciplining and stilling the mind so that we can unite with and know what lies beyond. The four together comprise Maha Yoga.
Laya Yoga forms the core of Kundalini Yoga, which in turn lies at the heart of Tantra. Why it is one of the most accessible, is that in contrast to systems that teach that the body is an obstacle on the Path to Enlightenment, it teaches that the body is a manifestation of the ultimate Reality and must therefore be fully integrated into our spiritual development.
This book focuses on the process by which the human body can be transmuted into a divine one, in which every organ and every cell is suffused with consciousness and develops capacities far beyond the "normal." These processes underlie some of the documented feats of yogic adepts. The word "Laya" means "dissolution," in the sense of melting away the limitations and karma that have accrued over time. The word can also be used to refer to the absorption and transmutation of the elements that constitute the body. This process occurs when kundalini is awakened and rises from the base of the spine and ascends toward the top of the head.
This book is technical, academic and comprehensive. It truly is a "definitive guide." It draws on over 280 Sanskrit texts and is based not just on words on books, but many years of precise yogic experimentation and ever more subtle realizations.
This is a book for the serious student. It is not a quick guide to raising kundalini or achieving powers. The book also corrects some of the common misconceptions that litter some of the New Age books on chakras and kundalini.
As an example, in most people only some of the chakras are active. It would not be a good idea for someone to learn how to open them all up without having done the necessary preparatory work first. Many health care practitioners have seen the consequences of people doing too much chakra or kundalini work too quickly and without guidance.
If you are interested in spirituality, yoga or the subtle anatomy of the body, this is a superb book that will repay a few hours of study. I have bought extra copies for students who have already covered the basics about yoga, spiritual development and subtle energies, and each has found it to be a treasure trove.