My 10 “must read” books on Yoga

As you travel along your yoga path there will most likely come a time when you wonder how some Sanskrit term applies to your daily life or how your asana practice relates to the spiritual side of yoga powers. Trying to understand the yoga tradition takes a lot of time, thought, practice and study. Books are undoubtedly a fantastic resource along your journey. Many ancient texts require a studious effort however there are other books that you can curl up with and enjoy. Here, in no particular order, are my ten must read yoga books.

LIGHT ON YOGA – B.K.S. IYENGAR

No list on yoga books would be complete without the “Bible of Modern Yoga”. This book has become a definitive guide to the yoga philosophy and practice. It contains complete descriptions and illustrations of yoga poses and breathing exercises.

THE YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI

The basis of Raja Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is considered a complete manual for the study and practice of Yoga.

THE SECRET POWER OF YOGA – A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO THE HEART AND SPIRIT OF THE YOGA SUTRAS – NISCHALA JOY DEVI

This book interprets the Sutras as a meditation on living with ease. The author wanted to make an interpretation that was “positive and heart centered”. This has resulted in a guide that reframes the intellectually demanding concepts as a loving, heart-based approach to transformation. This book can be viewed as a gateway to the Yoga Sutras, inspiring you to live from the heart while inviting you to explore a classical approach to the text.

THE BHAGAVAD GITA – TRANSLATED BY EKNATH EASWARAN

The Bhagavad Gita, meaning the “Song of the Absolute” is the story of a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna (the Absolute) as the former is about to enter into battle. Krishna teaches Arjuna the skill of union with the Absolute which is called Yoga. The story describes the concept of yoga in a systematic step-by-step way. There are quite a few different translations out there but this is my personal favourite.

YOGA ANATOMY – LESLIE KAMINOFF AND AMY MATTHEWS

This book covers the dynamics of breathing, the muscular and skeletal systems and different poses. You will learn how altering a pose can enhance or reduce its effectiveness and how the spine, breathing and body function are intrinsically linked. The Sanskrit and English terms are given along with pronunciation of the Sanskrit. The illustrations show exactly what is happening in the body in 75 different asanas.

THE HEART OF YOGA – T.K.V. DESIKACHAR

This book emphasises the importance of the practitioner observing their own practice and how to augment the benefit of the poses. It supports a complete holistic practice from physical to spiritual.

THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF YOGA – DEEPAK CHOPRA AND DAVID SIMON

The are spiritual laws, which alongside meditation, asanas, breathing techniques and mantras guide a person towards enlightenment, this book discusses these laws in detail.

YOGA MIND, BODY & SPIRIT – A RETURN TO WHOLENESS – DONNA FARHI

In this book the author shows you how to use the spiritual practice of yoga as a tool to connect mind, body and spirit. She addresses the seven principles of movement that are the foundation for all human motion. Her interpretation of the Eight Limbs of Yoga is the best that I have read and the most easily understood for those of us living and practicing our Yoga in the West.

LIVING YOUR YOGA – JUDITH HANSON LASATER

The author of this book shows you how to let your practice seep into every corner of your life. She takes the Sutras and puts them into an easily accessible, every day context. The chapters are short, relatable and easy to put into practice. You will learn the importance of ensuring that your yoga happens off the mat as well as on it.

BRINGING YOGA TO LIFE – DONNA FARHI

In this book the author moves yoga beyond the mat, restoring it as a complete, practical philosophy for life. It is accessible for all and because it extends to more than just the physical it can act as a guide for those seeking to learn more about the spiritual side of the practice.

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