12 yoga book recommendations
A good yoga book can show you a new perspective. Just like a yoga teacher cannot do the work for you, but can show you other helpful options. Likewise, the perspectives you yoga books can definitely make the journey to learn shorter. It gives you more options to find your own way, a way that helps and supports you.
The yoga sutra of Patanjali are an important guideline to start living yoga. The yoga sutra are written down very succinctly: there is lot to unpack in each yoga sutra. Explanation, elucidation and examples can therefore help to understand them in such a way that you can apply them better in your life. This also applies to the eightfold path of yoga, as described in these yoga sutra.
That's how “True Yoga” is written. To link and implement the eightfold yoga path in our modern life. Especially since knowing what the yamas, niyamas and the other 6 parts of the 8 fold yoga path of Patanjali are is one thing, but really understanding and applying them will change your life.
True yoga explains the yoga values from the yoga sutra of Patanjali by using examples that are easy to relate to. In addition, each chapter concludes with daily exercises, questions to reflect on and affirmations. All to provide you concrete pragmatic tools to get started with..
Jennie Lee has clearly studied the Eightfold Path for a long time (she also has over 20 years of experience as a yoga therapist). In addition, she has used 5 translations of the yoga sutra as sources for her interpretations of the applicability of the yoga sutra. Resulting in a yoga book that is not only interesting to read and has a practical approach, but also shows depth to the material.
I am not the only one who recommends this yoga book. Besides that I started to read it based on the advice of another yogi, this book is mandatory reading for the Stanford University YogaX Yoga for Mental Health program and was a USA Best Book award finalist in the spirituality and inspiration category in 2016.
So in short, highly recommended!
This is my favorite version of the yoga sutra so far. Perhaps not very surprising,if you take into account that these are also the authors of my favorite book “How yoga works” (see THIS blog for more info on that book).
Is one version of the yoga sutra enough? Perhaps; once you find a version that works well for you. I myself get other things from different translations and explanations: each version offers me a new perspective on how I can apply the yoga sutra in my life. After all, the yoga sutra are written in Sanskrit and very succinctly and compactly written. The translations of different authors plus their explanations can therefore shine a different light, a different perspective
What I really like about this version is that the explanation provides insight into how our thoughts and actions work like planting seeds and how they affect our lives. And especially how we can use this insight to calm the mind, gain insight into who we are and create a sense of profound happiness.
This is also a book to integrate the yoga values more into your life. With "The Yogi Assignment" you dive into a yoga value every day for 30 days, such as stillness, patience and contentment. Just like with Kino's online yoga classes, this book is accessible, a source of knowledge, full of compassion and pragmatic.
With one chapter per day, you focus on a different yoga value every day. Each chapter starts with discussing the yoga value, made relatable with examples from the life and yoga practice of Kino herself. Followed by a few homework questions/assignments, so that you can reflect on how to apply it in your own life and yoga practice. By formulating concrete action points it fits into the yoga method that it’s mostly a practice (“Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory” ~ Pattabhi Jois). Each chapter ends with a few yoga poses that you could practice in relation to the yoga value discussed.
There are also challenging and advanced yoga postures included in these suggestions. That doesn’t mean that this book is not for you if these postures are out of your reach at the moment. The rest of the chapter already provides you the set-up to apply the yoga value in yoga postures that are appropriate for you at the moment. Keep respecting your boundaries and maybe try a set-up of a posture or apply the yoga value in another posture or variation that suits your needs better. By continuing to work on this with integrity, you can use yoga values such as patience, compassion, mental strength, intention, letting go and perseverance. Exactly what the book is about.
I recommend the “The yogi assignment” when you like to reflect on how yoga values play a role in your life and how you can use them further to create more balance.
Some books interest you so much that you not only read them, but even study them with love. Even if you have studied the subject already for years. "The Great Work of Your Life" falls into this category for me.
This yoga book is about dharma. It makes this concept out of the Bhagavad Gita very clear by using the stories of various inspiring -well known and unknown- persons. I recommend this book both for those who do not yet know much about dharma and for those who have already studied it and are intrigued by it.
To give you a glimpse of the content, it uses the 4 pillars of dharma:
- Look at your dharma: discern, name & embrace your dharma
- Do it full out
- Let go of the fruits (of your efforts).
In other words: no expectations.
- Turn it over to God
If the word God feels uncomfortable to you, you can read this as well as the Unknown, Universal Consciousness or any other term that feels comfortable to you.
This book is also a great support to give you that little push to turn those great creative ideas into reality.
A good statement from this book:
“It is better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else.”
How is it possible that you feel so good after a session on the yoga mat? And can we also explain that with Western science? Eddie Stern (a very experienced Ashtanga teacher) dived into the scientific material and combined it with his deep knowledge of yoga. A lot has to do with the effect of yoga asana and pranayama on the nervous system.
Eddie describes this effect insightfully and clearly without having to dive into scientific research and old yoga scriptures yourself. Aiming at giving you the information to use the underlying principles even more effectively.
Such as about the functioning of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and how we balance these (both important parts). And how we help with yoga postures, our breathing and gratitude to:
- reduce inflammation;
- improves resilience and adaptability;
- homeostasis is supported (in short: the processes in your body are in balance); and
- affect our emotions and mood.
Are you curious what that “One simple thing” is and what it can do for you?
Another tip from Eddie Stern himself: the most important chapter is the last. Of course the book builds up to this chapter, but the last chapter can also be read on its own.
Another recommendation is the free breathing app that Eddie Stern designed in cooperation with Deepak Chopra and Moby: the breathing app. This app helps you to balance your nerveous system by practicing a simple (but very effective) breathing technique.
If you practice yoga, there is a good chance that you will hear about the chakras sooner or later. Sometimes chakras are considered to be wooly and seems to discourage people to practice yoga. Chakras, however, are simply explained just energy centers and energy is not something that is foreign to us. After all, feeling if you are tired or have plenty of energy is something that is quite easy to relate to.
Further, lots of people often think that they cannot feel their chakras. Still, having a "gut feeling" or having a “lump in your throat” are things we are very familiar with. In those moments we are aware of how something affects our energy.
So maybe the words used when we talk about chakras are not always clear to everyone, but we have felt the energy of them.
To make it somewhat more practicle, each chakra is related to a specific type of consciousness. All these parts of our consciousness are equally important in life. A 'higher' chakra is therefore not more important than a 'lower' chakra, but simply has a different function. They all have their own part to fulfill and they are all needed.
The 1st (root) chakra for example relates to being grounded, the earth and nature in general. It is less known that it also has to do with the power of the tribes in which we live, such as your family, colleagues or friends. So it's also about group identity, group force, group willpower and group belief patterns.
In the same way, the other chakras are related to other parts of our consciousness. As a whole, they support us and our health.
Caroline Myss discusses the seven chakras in “Anatomy of the spirit” and how this affects our life. She discusses how certain challenges in our lives could cause certain types of illnesses and how we can become aware of the underlying patterns (so that we can do something about them!). Because Caroline uses concrete examples and human habits, it is easy to understand the matter and use it in your life.
This book about the chakras is certainly spiritual, but not wooly.
Ayurvedic cooking with a modern twist.
Deepak Chopra already puts it perfectly in the preface:
“Ayurveda is a living science; one that has transformed and moved throughout the centuries to match the needs of the individuals it serves”.
Avocados and cacao, for example, were not available in ancient India and therefore were not used in the traditional Ayurvedic cuisine. But that doesn't mean that we cannot use them with while still applying the Ayurvedic principles. Sahara Rose combines her Ayurvedic knowledge with the current possibilities resulting in delicious vegan recipes in Eat Feel Fresh.
In addition to plenty of recipes to get started in the kitchen, this book is also full of information about Ayurveda, Ayurvedic doshas and the principles of Ayurvedic food. So that you have the tools to use your nutrition to create more balance (and thus health) in different circumstances and seasons.
By the way, the ingredients are both noted in the metric as US customary amounts. No conversion method required.
This Ayurvedic cook book comes with lots of delicious recipes for every moment of the day. Responsible Ayurvedic treats and hot drinks are also included. Are you already craving for a summer sun smoothie bowl or pumpkin pie oats for breakfast? Yummie! Not convinced yet? Maybe you go for a plant-based sweet potato pesto pizza? Or for palak tofu, a sweet potato and chickpea burger, masala chickpea bowl or one of the easy to make chakra soups? There are also delicious vegan desserts (and drinks) to help you stay off the refined sugars and still enjoy something sweet.
All Ayurvedic, so "Eat feel fresh" is aimed at good digestion for a healthy body.
YogaHabits is not just called "YogaHabits". I am very interested in how our habits work for us, but also how they can get in our way (and have studied this for the past 19 years). Habits based on past experiences, on which we base our expectations and create similar experiences, creating a vicious circle. As Sadhguru says in this book:
“The problem is you have already defined what you are looking for. It is not the object of your search that is important; it is the faculty of looking.”
In Inner Engineering Sadhguru talks about everyday scenarios and how we can look at them differently. To get us started to improve our ability to see. To improve our ability to interact with someone or something. Because that is actually what taking responsibility means (instead of deciding who is guilty).
So, it’s a book that offers new perspectives and aims at making us more aware of our habits. Of habits that help us and are worthwhile. And habits that hinder us from bliss and profound happiness. So that we have a choice.
Sadhguru is also known for satsangs where he answers questions related to spirituality, yoga and above all the practical challenges in life.
Both ‘yoga therapy’ and ‘vinyasa krama’ are uprising in the yoga world. And if you dive into yoga, sooner or later (probably early) you will end up with Krishnamacharya. Because not only Desikachar (viniyoga) was a student of Krishnamacharya. Similarly B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar yoga), Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (ashtanga yoga) and Indra Devi were his students.
This yoga book will give you insight into what many of the current yoga traditions in the west are based on. Between the life story of Krishnamacharya and how his son Desikachar learned yoga from him, you are handed golden yoga nuggets.
While the book reads as a biography, "Health, Healing and Beyond" incorporates insights from the yoga sutra and yoga therapy. Chances are that these insights will further increase your interest in how yoga works.
Yoga therapy… is something you hear more and more about it. Not completely surprising, since yoga is becoming more popular each year. Furthermore, we become more and more aware of alternative ways to support our health. And also because there are more and more yoga injuries happening (partly due to the increase of popularity of yoga).
Yoga postures have always been designed to contribute to a healthy body and calm mind. Precisely because body & mind are connected. Did you know that in yoga the original intention was to adjust the practice to the individual circumstances?
If you are interested in how to make a yoga practice more therapeutic, this book "Yoga therapy" is a good start. It is written by two students from Krishnamacharya.
Subjects discussed are for example how the breathing supports movements and how to take the Ayurvedic constitution (the three dosha's vata, pitta and kapha) into account. Various case studies have also been included with yoga sequences for various physical issues.
This book is interesting if you want to learn more about the esoteric side of yoga. Of course you will not get any yogic powers from reading this book. As generally stated in yoga, this book also emphasizes that you need a teacher to learn the techniques. And of course that "yogic powers" is not a goal or end in itself. The yoga sutra even warn against this. These powers come when the time is right.
Why I find this book very interesting (besides that I have the tendency to to find all aspects of yoga very interesting) is that it helped me to put the already learned energetic techniques in better perspective. I also find the life story of Yogi Gupta inspiring. In how the yama and niyama are so deeply intertwined in all his actions. Although the goal is not to gain yogic powers, this book "Yoga and yogic powers" is very inviting to learn more about yoga and how yoga works.
I received this book as a gift in 2010 and I still think it is something special. Although it’s not intended as a yoga book, the principles presented are virtues and methods that are common in the yogic path.
It’s written in the form of an easy-to-read story about a top lawyer who ended up going to the Himalayas and found there the building blocks for a more harmonious life. Perfect for those who already have taken some yoga classes and feel that there is more to yoga than those 60 to 90 minutes on the yoga mat. Are you curious about "The monk who sold his Ferrari"?
Looking for more yoga books recommendations?
Are you looking for more yoga book recommendations? I have also recommended other yoga blogs in previous yoga blog posts. Check them HERE for more yoga book inspiration.
Enjoy your habits today with love and light.
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