If you’re a word nerd like me, I don’t have to convince you that books are the bomb. You’ll find an array of them stacked at my bedside, tucked in my tote bag, and on various shelves in my home. So when I began my yoga journey, I felt compelled to find the best yoga books around. Some helped me perfect my form and develop my own routines; others opened my heart to spiritual components I wasn’t able to explore in the classroom setting. It was tough to choose the top 5 yoga books on my bookshelf, but here’s the list I finally narrowed and compiled for all the yogi bookworms in my audience.
1. The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
Author Nischala Joy Devi highlights the emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga in this extraordinary book. Each intuitive chapter teaches readers to probe within, and find the power, harmony, and wisdom that abides there. When I first discovered this book, I found myself sampling it, reading it slowly and savoring every word and philosophy. After several years of owning the book, I have still not returned it to my bookshelf. My dog-eared copy sits aside my reading chair where I can enjoy it often. Here are some lines I love, which serve as stand-alone lessons though they are tucked into various chapters of the book…
On compassion: Whatever action people take, whether you approve of it or not, always make sure they know you love them.”
On sustaining equanimity: “Perception of our true nature is often obscured by physical, mental, and emotional imbalances.”
2. The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
This glossy book is an encyclopedia of yoga poses (170 total), complete with instruction on how to safely start, achieve, and come out of each posture. The book is broken down into sections, ending with a Finding Your Yoga segment for those who want to explore various types of yoga, such as Kundalini and Bikram yoga. Aside from the awesome content, The Yoga Bible is a cinch to carry. It’s short and chunky, which everyone can agree is quite flattering when it comes to literature. The book will fit into your gym bag or tote so you can study it on the go.
3. Yoga The Iyengar Way By Silva Mira and Shyam Metha (foreword by B.K.S Iyengar)
Once you get past the archaic images of yogis in 80s tights and workout wear, you see the value in this fine book. To be fair, the images are clear, which makes it easy to mimic each asana, and they’re also in color. Let’s just say the models aren’t as hip as your Instagram posers. What’s great about this book: it’s a comprehensive guide to 100 key postures, broken down into sections, and rated by level of difficulty. The back of the book contains instruction on breathwork and hosts of routines for the home-practitioners. The asanas are even listed in their Sanskrit names.
4. Light on Yoga By B.K.S Iyengar
This book should be part of every yogi’s tool kit. Regardless of your level of expertise on the mat or preferred literature genre, you’ll enjoy reading this for its philosophical value alone. Written by the famed B.K.S Iyengar, after whom countless studios were named worldwide, the book provides instruction on asanas, breathing, and every graceful aspect of yoga. The author discusses muscular focus, and offers a synopsis on each asana’s effect, along with illustrations for each. The added bonus is a list of common ailments with recommended postures for relief. Move over aspirin, there’s an asana for that ache!
5. Teaching Yoga By Mark Stephens
Don’t let the title trick you — this book is for students, too. In fact, I bought this with the intention of gaining a more focused curriculum for my own home practice. Teaching yoga is an amazing bedside companion (because its content is so broad) and a textbook suitable for the teacher in training or seasoned instructor. This book had me at The History of Yoga. The layered content begins with ancient tradition, offers techniques and tools, and explores all aspects of teaching, such as setting intention, pacing, cues for refining each asana, and primary risks. You’ll also find a full glossary of poses at the back, along with their English and Sanskrit names. There’s a lot to feast on here. This book is the meat and potatoes of your yoga meal — the kind even vegetarians like me can truly enjoy!
What are your favorite yoga books? Have you found any that have inspired your practice?
(Note: I’ve written another version of this article for Yoganonymous.)
P.S. I’m SO psyched about the yoga book I wrote. This fun little guide will inspire you and help you find magic and momentum on the mat. Check it out here and leave a review if you feel so inclined. I’d LOVE that!
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