by Lena Schmidt: It’s time to get out your yoga reading materials and dive in! Books about yoga are a beneficial addition to the library of any seeker…
There are thousands of interesting, insightful, and inspiring books about yoga. From yoga books for beginners to the mystical aspects of meditation to the anatomy of specific yoga poses the to the influence of yoga on body image, resources abound. The practice of yoga is about bridging and strengthening the connection between body, mind, heart, and spirit. To that end, finding a teacher or community to practice with is indispensable for any level of yogi. But when you are traveling, yearning for more learning, or want to see pictures of poses, books about yoga are indispensable. Books on the myriad aspects of a well-rounded yoga practice can be a welcome supplement to the teachings you learn in classes.
Books for yoga beginners through to experienced yoga teachers and practitioners can provide useful information. There are volumes written for anyone interested in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of a yoga practice. If you are going through yoga teacher training, there are many useful books about yoga to help teach you and guide you through your yoga practice. There is always more to learn! It can be helpful to read books about yoga because you can read at your own pace and take in the information in your own time.
As you read, you may wish to take notes on the information most resonant and relevant for you. Perhaps you are interested in mudras or mantras? There are books about that! Perhaps you want to know the brain science behind meditation? There are books about that, too! There are books about yoga therapy and kids yoga and prenatal yoga and yoga for 12-step recovery. There are books on different styles of yoga asana and what kriyas will help to reinvigorate your life. Reading can be a meditative practice in itself.
These yoga books will help you improve your practice with valuable insight into yoga philosophy, history, step-by-step asana instructions, and realistic suggestions for incorporating this holistic therapeutic practice into your everyday life. Happy reading!
1. Health, Healing, and Beyond: Yoga and the Living Tradition of T. Krishnamacharya
By T.K.V. Desikachar
You should read this book if: You want an accessible and insightful introduction to yoga philosophy, you wonder where “yoga” came from, and you want some interesting history regarding the lineage of the yoga practiced in the West.
What this book is about: This book is about the healing benefits of yoga for the body, mind, heart, and spirit. More specifically, this book is about the life and work of master yogi T. Krishnamacharya and how it coalesces with the 5,000-year-old history of the healing tradition of yoga. The author goes into the rigors of a yogi’s journey: poses (asana), breathwork (pranayama), meditation (dyana), intentional concentration (dharana), moral observances (yamas and niyamas), sense withdrawal (pratyahara), and the pursuit of bliss (samadhi). Written by Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar, this book alternates between the fascinating details of both yogis’ personal journeys and the essentials of a well-rounded yoga practice. This would make a nice addition to a library of yoga books for beginners.
2. The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras
By Nishala Joy Devi
You should read this book if: You have heard of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras but have found them dry or confusing, you value reading yoga philosophy from a heartfelt perspective, and you are searching for deeper meaning in your life.
What this book is about: This book is an accessible, in-depth exploration and explanation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or the sacred threads of a yogic path. Whether Patanjali was just one person or a group of scholars, this collection of aphorisms has long been a go-to text for spiritual and secular seekers alike. This particular translation from Sanskrit is the only one written by a woman. From the encouragement to find a balance between effort and ease in meditative seats and yoga postures (2.46 sthira-sukham âsanam) to the eight-limbed yogic path (2.28 yogângânusthânâd asuddhi-ksaye jnâna-dîptir âviveka-khyâteh) to various meditative practices, this book of yoga sutras offer direction, guidance, support, and insight for anyone interested in finding deeper meaning within their life.
3. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing
By Caroline Myss
You should read this book if: You have an interest in healing yourself and others holistically, you seek an in-depth exploration into the chakras, and you are interested in energy medicine.
What this book is about: Written by an experienced energy healer and medical intuitive, this book is an comprehensive immersion into the world of chakras, or energy centers, the benefits and how-to’s of self-healing, and how your body and biology hold onto what you experience and your biography. Anatomy of the Spirit includes sections about the history of subtle energy and how most of the world’s religions intersect in multiple ways. There are enlightening segments featuring the experiences of people who have healed themselves with their thoughts. Finally, there are portions regarding the practicalities of working with your chakras in everyday life.
4. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga
By Deepak Chopra and David Simon
You should read this book if: You are new to the world of yoga or an experienced yogi. If you are looking for not only thorough descriptions of yoga poses, but also a look at the spirituality so often missing in Western yoga classes today, this is the go-to book for you. Think of it as a guidebook for meditation, yoga, mantra, breathwork, and of course, yoga poses.
What this book is about: What you see in the book’s title is what you get on the pages—a look at the seven spiritual laws of yoga, which are:
- Pure potentiality
- Giving and receiving
- Karma (cause and effect)
- Least effort
- Intention and desire
As you learn about these seven laws, you will learn how to witness and embody them in your physical and spiritual yoga practice. Check The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga out for yourself!
5. The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well
By Kate O’Donnell
You should read this book if: You are interested in making yoga part of a complete, holistic lifestyle, you want to change how you see your food, you enjoy eating according to what foods are in season, and you find cooking meditative.
What this book is about: This book is a beautiful cookbook filled with delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snack-time delights based on what is in season. This book also has comprehensive information about the doshas (or body types), the basics of a well-stocked Ayurvedic kitchen, and tips and tricks for using this ancient science to bring balance to your everyday routines. The recipes in this cookbook are simple, delicious, and depicted in colorful illustrations.
6. Yoga Body and Mind Handbook: Easy Poses, Guided Meditations, Perfect Peace Wherever You Are
By Jasmine Tarkeshi
You should read this book if: You want a lovely overview of the benefits of yoga and meditation, you are looking for some practical ways to begin a physical yoga practice, and you want clear descriptions of how to get into new yoga postures.
What this book is about: This book is an inspiring introduction to yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and wellbeing from a long-time practitioner and teacher. The Yoga Body and Mind Handbook includes a basic history of yoga, the benefits and rewards of a dedicated practice, an overview of the eight-limbed path, how to set yourself up for success when beginning the study of yoga, and simple breakdowns of many yoga asanas. For each posture, the author includes the quality (grounding, energizing, or relaxing), the effect (flexibility, strength, or tranquility), what props or modifications might be useful (block, blanket, or strap), the gaze or where to look while executing the pose, and then how to get into the pose. The drawings of each pose are also sweet and helpful.
7. Insight Yoga: An Innovative Synthesis of Traditional Yoga, Meditation, and Eastern Approaches to Healing and Well-Being
By Sarah Powers
You should read this book if: You want to learn Yin yoga poses and techniques, you are curious about the basic principles of Chinese medicine and how they relate to yoga, and you have an interest in meditation.
What this book is about: This book is about integrating the basics of Chinese medicine, the principles of yin, yang, chi, meridians, Buddhism, Taoism, and the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, and earth) with a yoga practice. This book is also about the specifics of a Yin yoga practice, which is “slow, steady and often stationary, with a sense of core softness and surrender.” In the Yin practice, poses are help for three to five minutes to give the body time to soften, open, relax, and stretch deeply. The pictures of the poses, demonstrated by the author, are helpful for recreating the poses on your own and the descriptions are clear and concise.
8. Open Body: Creating Your Own Yoga
By Todd Walton
You should read this book if: You want to practice yoga at home but don’t know where to begin, you want to feel empowered to create individualized movements that feel good in your body, you need the reminder that anything can be yoga, and you need a reminder to let go of the intensity and seriousness of the yogic path.
What this book is about: This delightful and beautiful little book is an invitation to create your own yoga practice. Whether you enjoy taking classes in community or already prefer to practice solo, this book lends itself to joy, delight, sweetness, exploration, and self-discovery. From ideas of how to do yoga in bed to dancing yoga to water yoga to sensual yoga to hosting a yoga party, this book is about allowing yourself to feel integrated and connected with your inner self. The author states, “Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning the union of the physical self with the universal spirit…I use the word ‘yoga’ to mean all those physical and verbal and emotional and meditative things I do in loving response to the needs of my body and spirit.” The drawings the grace the pages of this book are whimsical and imaginative, just as the author reminds you to allow your yoga practice to be.
There are hundreds of other books on various yoga topics that are well worth your time. Books for yoga devotees and newcomers are easy to find. Are there books that you’ve found inspiring for your yoga journey? What books have been on your bedside table? If there’s a topic that entices you (Vegetarianism? Intuition? Present moment awareness? Mindfulness in the workplace?), consider borrowing or purchasing a book on the topic. Sometimes a single quote or chapter can be the spark you need to shift everything. Set up your reading nook, cozy up with a blanket, and crack open that yoga book!