In the practice of Yoga, at times it can be difficult to remain inspired. This list of 12 books on yoga are amazing pieces of literature and are guaranteed to do just that. To inspire, excite and teach, both on and off the mat. They are what I consider to be the best yoga books available to the aspiring yogi’s; from the novice to the practiced.
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When the practice of “yoga” is referred to here in the West, it is normally always associated with asanas, the physical postures (you know the images of very flexible people doing things you can only look at in awe) being practiced. Or referred to as a “stretching” class, or just another added physical workout to your weekly routine. The meaning of yoga, in fact, goes far beyond that.
“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down”
What does that mean? It means that through the practice of asana (postures) we begin to deepen the relationship with the “Self”. Through self-realization, we awaken and our minds begin to focus more clearly. Through this awareness, we become more intuned with life, in us and around us. With this connection, our spirits grow calm. This is when yoga begins to flourish off the mat, in how we treat ourselves, others, and the earth.
“be the change you want to see in the world”
This list of books not only is for asana practice but also for those wishing to deepen their knowledge of what yoga truly is. These are the books I have in my library and often refer to. Some are technical, some thoughtful, but all are truly inspirational. Peruse and enjoy! Simply click on the image to review and find further information on each. Remember, by purchasing through this link you will be supporting IMSL and our efforts at no additional cost to you! We thank you for your continued support!
1. “Meditations From The Mat” by Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison
This well written beautiful book offers 365 meditations for mindfulness. It is one that every practitioner will enjoy and refer to often (as seen in my photo, my book is well loved and referred to often).
2. Rumi: Poems by Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet Series
Selected poetry from the medieval Persian sage, Rumi. Rumi’s poetry “bring the sacred and the earthy together in startling ways, describing divine love in vividly human terms”. A wonderful addition to anyone’s meditation practice.
1. “The Spirit Of Yoga: A unique journey through the Eight Limbs of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by Cat de Rham & Michelle Gill.
As one reviewer so eloquently put it:
Rarely have I been as blissful as I was reading this book. A beautiful, moving and deeply intuitive interpretation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It gives you a genuine feel for what yoga can do for you, and mean to you. A blend of reverence, the sacred, practicality and childlike joy permeate the pages. A true work of art. I refer to it on a regular basis, particularly on those days when I need a little “nudge” to get moving. I simply cannot say enough about how inspiring and magnificent this book is.
I couldn’t have stated this any better. This truly is a work of art with stunning imagery, beautiful poetry and “personal hints and practical tips on how Pantanjali’s teachings translate into both the practice of yoga and our everyday lives”. This is my absolute favorite book on the eight limbs of yoga. A must have. A quick note, I believe this book is no longer in print, thus the increased cost.
2. “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by
A comprehensive book on the classical yoga sutras, meaning discourse or (thought) threads. “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”.
THE ENERGETIC BODY
1. “Health, Healing, and Beyond: Yoga And The Living Tradition Of T. Krishnamacharya” by T. K. V. Desikachar
This book is written by Desikachar, son of T Krishnamacharya (“one of the greatest healers and sages of modern Indian history”) and considered to be the “father of modern yoga” by many. In this biographical view, Desikachar continues his father’s philosophy that yoga should be tailored to the individuals’ needs, especially for healing purposes. A wonderful addition to any yogi’s library.
2. “The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice” by
A must-have book for every level of experience. This book outlines step-by-step for developing a complete practice. All elements of yoga are discussed in this book; asana’s, pranayama (conscious breathing techniques), meditation and philosophy. A source that I refer to often.
3. “Chakras: Energy Centers Of Transformation” by Harish Johari
An informational source on the energic “wheels” of the body complete with full-color illustrations and images, with explanations of each chakra, their connections, sounds, and colors. Johari “unfolds the mysteries of these subtle centers of transformation with visualization techniques essential” to anyone’s daily practice.
THE PHYSICAL BODY
1. “Anatomy Of Hatha Yoga” by David Coulter
A comprehensive book on how anatomy and physiology relate to Hatha Yoga. If a bit technical, this book is an invaluable source for those interested in the physical science behind asana. No mention of prana (energy) or chakras (wheels of energy) in this book. Instead, Coulter’s focus remains on details of each posture and breaks down the physical processes and muscle groups used for each asana. Wonderfully in-depth images and anatomical diagrams assist the reader in understanding the details of each posture.
2. “Light On Yoga: The Bible Of Modern Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar
This is one of the very first yoga books I added to my library and one that is still my go-to source for asana practice. This book is considered “a comprehensive sourcebook for the initiated” as well as the beginner. It is an amazing guide to both asana practices as well as pranayama practices. I highly recommend that beginner and practiced alike have this source in their library.
3. “The Woman’s Book Of Yoga And Health” by Linda Sparrowe & Patricia Walden
A complete book on woman’s health and how the therapeutic benefits of yoga are applied sequentially. In the first section(s) of the book, three sequences are covered. The essential sequence is for all women and reviews the poses along with modifications. The restorative sequence is geared toward relaxation and stress relief, and finally the “advanced” sequence for energy and toning. It’s the final section(s) of the book that I found especially informative as a woman. These sections cover “the stages of a woman’s life: teen years and early twenties, later twenties and thirties, midlife, and wisdom years”. A truly unique perspective of yoga from a woman’s point of view.
THE SCIENCE OF YOGA
1. “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by
This comprehensive book elucidates the entire science of hatha yoga (considered to be the foundation of all yoga). This is an absolute must-read for any serious practitioner or teacher. Topics covered include asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), shatkarma (purifications or cleanses), mudra (hand gestures to channel energy), and bandha’s (energetic locks). This text was one of the very first I read and continue to refer back to.
The Health Of Yoga
1. “The Yoga Of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide To Herbal Medicine” by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest holistic healing methods used for the “whole body”. “Ayurveda” literally translates to the “science of life”, and originated in the Vedic culture of India. It’s “sister” science is Yoga. Once firmly rooted in the practice of yoga, it’s almost natural to incorporate ayurvedic practices into your routine. This is a fine resource for use of herbs from an ayurvedic perspective.
There are many, many more options and great reading in regard to all things yogic. However, these are my top favorites and ones I hope you will be sure to read. Already read any of these or have more suggestions of your favorites and recommendations? Share below by leaving a comment! Be sure to follow on all social media below to stay up-to-date with all the latest happenings here on the hill.