Core Practices Book Reviews

The Art Matrix Magazine Core Practices Book Reviews features books under the umbrella theme of holistic well-being.

The Core Practices for Holistic Well-Being

  • Simple Living
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Connections

Simple Living

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer 

Love this book! It fit perfectly into my need to honour nature as a key attribute to holistic well-being.

“Braiding” different perspectives together is essential. In this case, Kimmerer highlights the awakening of our ecological consciousness. In fiction as in nonfiction, we can learn about life and relationships with a growth mindset and love of story-telling.

In this narrative, we expand our understanding of indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge. We explore the nature of connections between the earth and the beings which inhabit it.

Kimmerer does so with a generous spirit and adroit ability to convey this complex context in a fluid, captivating manner.

Winds of Skilak: The Continuing Saga … of the wards adventures and survival in the Alaskan wilderness

About the Author

After fifteen years as a “wilderness wife” in Alaska, Bonne ward now resides with her husband on their farm in central west Virginia. They sill maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, raising goats, chickens, and other barnyard animals, with four dogs and a peacock named George rounding out the menagerie. Bonnie enjoys canning vegetables from the huge gardens sowed by her husband with heirloom open-pollinated seeds, and in her “spare” time, she continues her memoirs of the Alaskan wilderness.



Old Lady on the Trail by Mary E. Davidson

Mary Davidson dedicates this book to the unsung heroes of the trail, those who volunteer their time and effort to maintain them. Without maintenance, trails disappear into wilderness. Without maintenance there would be no trails to walk (and experience the treasures that the wilderness can offer to us).

Not beginning long-distance hiking until age 60, Mary takes us with her on her trail journeys to experience the beauty of wilderness.

“Reacquainting myself with flowers I’d seed last year, I walked three days to Soledad Canyon. the lower I dropped in elevation, the more flowers abounded: popcorn phacelia, chia, fiddle-necks, miners lettuce, baby blue eyes, bush poppy, gilia, whispering bells, wall flower, and witches hats. I loved the desert flowers, greeting them by name seemed like I was greeting old friends, bringing gladness to my heart.”

We read of personal encounters she has in the Eastern ranges of the Appalachian Trail, the challenges of desert, snow, granite and thick forests of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the rugged and the remote grandeur of the Continental Divide Trail.

… I snuggled into my bag and tent at 7,124 feet, hoping for a nice morning sunrise. Instead, the wind blew ferociously all night, ripping the tent loose from it’r moorings in the early morning. I was surprised the tent had lasted that long. In high winds at 34 degrees (F), I packed up and got the heck out of there. It wasn’t the most auspicious start …

Trail names and trail angels

Along the way, Mary introduces the Trail Community. Hikers of many ages and walks of life labeled with colourful monikers called trail names such as Barking Spider, Blue Sky, Swamp Fox, Papa Bear, Ferrel, Transient and Mary: Medicare Pastor

Medicare Pastor … keep on going until you find the edge of the Earth. It is out there somewhere, next to the horizon.” Transient — August 8 2015

And, these trail angels, with planned and total surprises, grace her journey. Bears, moose, deer, coyotes, turkey vultures, hawks, eagles, owls, pronghorn, and endless supplies of squirrels and chipmunks share the world through which she walks.

I’d discovered great joy in hiking solo. I liked hiking with other people. I liked having company. But, starting out on a morning solo, having the whole world in front of me waiting for my steps to take me wherever the trail would lead was a marvellous feeling. The world before me was mine, just waiting for me to come and see it. My footprints were the only ones except for the very clear, fresh-looking bear tracks with distinct toes….

Everyday challenges come with the completing of seemingly endless miles. New adventures, sometimes with friends and much of the time solo, brought Mary to the first pages of this book on a glorious day sighting two grizzly bears. This is also the point at which Mary completes the long-distance hiking’s Triple Crown at age 76.

Throughout these inspirational journeys, Mary shares the perspective of an aging adult. Challenges of failing body parts add drama and obstacles to be overcome like rocks in the trail or adapted to like the trails that wind slowly up steep mountains.

About the Author

Mary has been a lot of places and done a lot of things. After all, she is 77 years old. Besides turning her hand to writing her hiking adventures, this Triple Crowner has been in the Peace Corps, a Physical Therapist with a specialty in Pediatrics, an Army wife, a Pastor of a church for 16 years, a gardener and retired. She is the mother of two the grandmother of 10 (the outdoor grandma). In her spare time, she preaches and plays the cornet.


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda

This valuable book provides a rather complete manual for the study and practice of Raja Yoga, the path of concentration and meditation. It is a treasure to be read and refer to again and again by seekers treading the spiritual path.

The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life.

The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters.

In this classic context, Sri Swamiji offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony.

Yoga Anatomy by Amy Matthews & Leslie Kaminoff

With more asanas, vinyasas, full-color anatomical illustrations, and in-depth information, the second edition of YogaAnatomy provides you with a deeper understanding of the structures and principles underlying each movement and of yoga itself. 

From breathing to inversions to standing poses, see how specific muscles respond to the movements of the joints; how alterations of a pose can enhance or reduce effectiveness; and how the spine, breathing, and body position are all fundamentally linked. 

Whether you are just beginning your journey or have been practicing yoga for years, Yoga Anatomy will be an invaluable resource—one that allows you to see each movement in an entirely new light. 

The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh




Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Mile 445 by Claire Miller

Not many people can say they met and married their spouse within thirty days of beginning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

But that’s exactly what happened to twenty-five-year-old Claire Henley Miller.

Mile 445 is the inspiring—and romantic—true story of how Miller left corporate life behind to embark on a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada. She is doing it alone, and the only gear she takes to survive the trek in the mountains of California, Oregon, and Washington fits inside her sixty-eight-liter backpack.

At the start of her five-month journey, she meets a handsome young man known on the trail as Big Spoon. Their paths keep crossing. The two quickly see a greater reason for their expedition than to explore the rigorous wilderness. They fall madly in love and get married. But their adventure is just beginning.

Told with rich vitality, Miller’s quest unfolds in mystical ways through deadly desert storms, 14,000-foot ascents, and decisions that will affect the rest of her life. This bold tale of courage and determination brims with humor and suspense as it reveals life, love, and loss in the rawness of the wild.

The Art Matrix
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