If you are looking to deepen your yoga practice, make sure you check out these must-read yoga books
Yoga isn’t just about funny stretchy poses and deep breathing. There’s a whole lot more to this ancient tradition than initially meets the eye. Whether you are a yoga beginner or an advanced yogi, one of the best ways to deepen your yoga practice and understand what is beyond the surface is to read a yoga book.
Yoga books are a great insight into new perspectives on life, happiness and finding fulfilment from some of the best yoga teachers. You don’t need to pay lots of money to go to a workshop with a fancy yoga instructor (although that can also be beneficial). You just need to spend a few pounds on one of these eye-opening texts.
Interested? Read on…
LIGHT ON YOGA BY B.K.S. IYENGAR
We couldn’t write a list of yoga books without including B.K.S. Iyengar’s classic, Light On Yoga. Written by the world famous teacher, this book is often referred to as ‘the Bible of yoga’. It’s a photo illustrated guide designed to help yoga students develop their own home asana practice, explore yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) and learn Iyengar’s yoga philosophy for life and wellbeing. Iyengar believes that yoga is for everyone and that is exactly what this accessible book is about.
THE WISDOM OF YOGA: A SEEKER’S GUIDE TO EXTRAORDINARY LIVING BY STEPHEN COPE
Some might find The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali a little heavy going. They were after all written over 1,500 years ago by a Hindu sage. However, they do contain the important origins of the yogic tradition that we follow today. Yoga isn’t just about postures after all – the Yoga Sutras contain musings about the whole of human existence. What causes suffering? How can I live a happy life? How can I maximise my own potential? Stephen Cope’s book The Wisdom of Yoga is a great modern insight to the Yoga Sutras, showing their teachings through a group of modern friends stuck in various predicaments. It’s really worth a read.
THE BHAGAVAD GITA: A NEW TRANSLATION BY STEPHEN MITCHELL
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the classic yoga texts, an epic Indian tale of a prince who doesn’t want to fight his friends and family on the battlefield. It’s about how to live with the challenge of making difficult decisions when neither outcome looks especially rosy. Stephen Mitchell’s translation is an easy introduction to the text, so you can grasp the feeling behind the story without having the struggle of translating it.
Vanda Scaravelli was a famous yoga teacher who only took up the practice in her 40s. She studied under B.K.S. Iyengar and went on to develop her own form of yoga relating to the spine. Scaravelli encouraged her students to listen to their own bodies first and foremost – and invited freedom into traditional rigid yoga practices. Her book Awakening The Spine is an inspiring read about Scaravelli’s own beliefs about yoga and the proper alignment of the spine. As she says, “if you are kind to your body, it will respond in an incredible way.”
LIVING YOUR YOGA: FINDING THE SPIRITUAL IN EVERYDAY LIFE BY JUDITH HANSON LASATER
You don’t have to live like a hermit in a Nepalese cave to become a true yogi. Judith Hanson Lasater’s book Living Your Yoga is about finding meaning in yoga beyond downward facing dog and all the poses go through on auto-pilot. It’s a great guide to understand the deeper philosophical and ethical approach to life behind yoga. The chapters are short, readable and easy to put into practice in everyday life.
Breath is such an important part of yoga. Yoga instructor Donna Farhi has put together a practical guide to utilising breathing techniques to improve your health and wellbeing. They are safe and simple tools that can help with everything from asthma and depression to insomnia and eating disorders. This book also has great diagrams to help you understand the basic anatomy behind breathing. It’s been highly praised for being so accessible.
If you want a yoga book that will totally change your perspective, then read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, Ruiz states there are four agreements you need to make with yourself in order to be happy and free. They are: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. There’s a good reason this book was a New York Times bestseller for over a decade.
A huge part of yoga is the inner workings of the physical body as well as the emotional body. Yoga Anatomy is a world famous yoga book and is widely regarded as the best yoga anatomy guide out there. It shows which muscles work in which asanas, so you can really go in depth into muscle groups and joint movements. It’s illustrated with big colourful, clear diagrams – perfect for any intermediate yoga student or trainee yoga teacher.
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