Anyone who knows me will know that I love books. I was (and still am) the weird kid whose face was glued to a book instead of running around or playing. Fiction, poetry, craft books, books about history and psychology, cook books, yoga books – thank god for the kindle, otherwise we’d have no space to move around our house given our collective love of reading!
I had a request for book suggestions on yoga, so I thought I’d put together a list of books that I would personally recommend. I have to say, this wasn’t easy. It’s like picking your favourite children. But I tried to be disciplined and keep it to five-ish. You have to start somewhere!
I bought this book for a yoga retreat because it felt like what you are supposed to do on a retreat (not reading novels, which is what I actually did), but it ended up sitting on my shelf for 2 years untouched. I came back to it during my yoga teacher training and I actually think its a great introduction to yoga philosophy and yoga principles. Its surprisingly well-written and accessible, by one of the fathers of modern yoga.
I love this book. I could be all pretentious and talk about how it’s so much better to read older or original texts, but in reality if you are looking for a clear and accessible introduction to yoga philosophy, I think this is it. I know that many people on my training struggled to read the heavier yoga philosophy texts (I’m looking at you Yoga Sutras*!), and I’m fairly confident that this would have been a better place to start (and, while I trained with Marcus and Hannah recently, I am not biased and read this book before I knew either of them).
There are tons of beautiful books out there that delve into the different therapeutic modalities of yoga. I’ve picked “Yoga for emotional balance” because it really helped me understand how yoga could help my anxiety and gave me tools to support my mental health. I have since recommended it to friends who are looking to yoga for emotional wellbeing, especially because it includes practices at the end to support different needs.
BONUS! “When the body says no“: This is not a yoga book, but one that really ties together mental health and disease. If you have an interest in this area, I definitely recommend this.
Yoga and science
Of course I have to recommend something scientific, and really while some yogis have tried to write about this the only book is the “Science of yoga” by William Broad. It is, however, fairly dense and unless you are particularly interested in science you will struggle with this. “Altered traits“, which delves into the same topics but for meditation, is actually a much more accessible (and dare I say interesting) read.
And just for fun
Have you ever wondered why the poses are named as they are? Whether there is any meaning behind hanumanasana or astravakasana? Why we have three warrior poses and what the arm positions mean? “Myths of the asanas” is a fab book that tells the myth behind each pose. Like Aesop’s fables, there’s a message and life lesson behind every myth. But, if nothing else, it adds a layer of story-telling that’s interesting and fun.
What are your favourite yoga books? Make my reading list even longer!
*As an atheist, not very spiritual and a woman, I really struggled with this particular translation of the Sutras. It was a practice stopping myself from getting angry reading this at all!