Yoga by reading a book? Yes and no. Becoming inspired is always helpful, as by these 5 beautiful books that fit into a yoga lifestyle.
Practicing yoga can have a big impact on your life. Especially if you practice it with dedication and determination and change some Habits© on the way. For me, it's not about the 90 minutes I spend on the yoga mat each day (although I love this time), but about the effect on the rest of my life. I feel better during the rest of the day and it helps me to change other things as well in my life. Step-by-step, breath by breath, creating more worthwhile habits.
For some of those things I became inspired by reading books. In this blog, I like to share 5 of those inspiring books with regard to a yoga lifestyle that I could recommend. Also great to give as a present during the holidays.
Absolutely my favorite book! I read this book for the first time a few years ago to learn more about the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, but still like to read it once in a while again.
If you want to go beyond the practice of asana (physical yoga postures), the Yoga Sutras are a great guideline to integrate more aspects of yoga into your life. Usually the study of these texts is however quite difficult, because you have to be able to put the Sutra into the right context to be able to understand these ancient texts. The beauty of this book is that the yoga sutras are integrated clearly in a fun accessible story that is easy to read. You will read "How Yoga Works" like a novel, while in the meantime you learn more about what you can do to apply yoga knowledge into your life and how this will affect you.
Do not expect that the Yoga Sutras are discussed in the order of the original texts. What you can expect is a fun and accessible way to become (more) familiar with the Yoga Sutra and how to apply them. I have seen, both with myself as others that read the book on my recommendation, that this book is an effective tool to learn how to apply the Yoga Sutra in daily life. However, reading the book doesn’t feel like studying, but relaxed and enjoyable instead.
In short, a yoga page turner that could have a big impact on how you live your life.
Practicing yoga regularly is an effective tool to create more awareness of and connection with your body. Often, this will also encourage the desire to take good care of your body. Not only by practicing yoga postures and mindfulness, but also by supporting nutrition. Because everybody is different, there are also differences between the optimal food patterns of different persons and constitutional types. Likewise, there are also differences in the most effective methods to detoxify different kinds of bodies.
What I really like about the book "Cleanse & Purify Thyself" is that there are some simple signals your own body is providing, that form a good indication how to approach (the intensity of) an effective detox for your own personal body.
Did you know that if you get detox symptoms like headaches, your body provides a signal that there are more toxins released than removed by your body? And that it even creates stress for your body? In such cases, you could support yourself by slowing down the detox a little bit or by supporting the removal of the toxins better. Besides improving your understanding about the detox signals of your own body, this book also provides great advise about several herbs that could be used to support the detoxification process.
Until last summer, I couldn’t imagine that I would enjoy the activity of tidying (instead only be grateful for the outcome of the process). What has changed is the method how I started to address it: I started to tidying our house by using the method of Marie Kondo.
Do you wonder what tidying has to do with a yoga lifestyle? By keeping your environment clean and tidied, you work on purity and cleanliness, also mentioned in Yoga Sutra II.32A’’:
The first commitment
Is to cleanliness.
Despite that a lot of our stuff is functional, it is also very common to keep a lot of stuff we no longer use or don’t enjoy anymore. Every time you see those things, they take up a place in your mind (un)consciously. And the more things your mind needs to process, the more likely it is that it causes one or more bottlenecks in your body and mind and that it becomes more difficult to be able to concentrate. See also Yoga Sutra II.54:
Learn to withdraw the mind
From the physical senses;
Freed from its ties
To outer objects,
The mind can arrive
At its own real nature.
With the Marie Kondo method, you only keep the things that make you happy, resulting in that your home becomes an inspiring environment. A key element in this method is to show gratitude. Both to the things you keep (because they make you happy) and to the stuff you say goodbye to for how they have served you.
In addition, this uncluttering method is wonderfully pragmatic. For example, Marie Kondo gives advice on how you can sort all your belongings effectively. And to keep your home tidy, she also provides advise how to give everything a perfect place that not only saves storage space but also makes it easy to keep it tidy in the long run. It will leave you with a house that is inspiring you and is easy to keep clean and tidy.
Besides that our home now feels lighter and energized, I also noticed that the process of tidying up helps to learn to release. In my case, I even felt that this emotional process was affecting my body and created more space in my hips. It even made this tidying process a "yoga off the mat" experience. And now a few months have passed, I've noticed that by using the Marie Kondo method it is way easier to keep our home tidy.
Marie Kondo has written two books so far. If you're not familiar with her method at all, you can start with "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying". If you are familiar with the method, but prefer more detailed practical advice (like more information how you can tidy best per category) her second book "Spark Joy" is the best choice.
The next two books are for our Dutch readers only (since they are not translated yet).
Looking for a Dutch book with a personal story about how the lessons you learn during your yoga classes can help during the challenges you encounter during the rest of the day? Then the book "Blijven ademhalen" (keep breathing) by Hedi de Vree is a must.
Also on the social media channels of YogaHabits you will find beautiful pictures of yogi’s in impressive yoga postures. Although these expressions of yoga postures is beautiful, it isn’t a representation of how the postures looked when the same people just started their yoga practice. Really, they are not born that way. These yogis have all encountered their own personal challenges and have continued to practice with dedication and determination. Not only physically, but also in life.
"Blijven ademhalen" is a good read about how practicing yoga with dedication and determination could affect your daily life. The power of " Blijven ademhalen" is how openly Hedi writes about her challenges like insecurities, her relationship and the loss of her mother. And especially how the lessons she learned during her yoga classes, helped her to face these challenges. Each chapter incorporated one of those life lessons, which are made tangible by the context of her personal story.
With her book, Hedi includes you in her personal transformation. How taking yoga classes not only changed her physically, but especially how it helped her creating more determination, focus, happiness and peace into her life.
After my eye caught the quote “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the path’’ at the cover, I started to read the Dutch book “Geluk in 8 koppen thee” by Irene van Gent. Although I love to drink a cup of herbal tea, this book is not about tea at all, but about yoga. To be more precise, about the eightfold path of yoga, what this means for Irene and how she practiced to integrate these various elements of yoga into her life.
In the western world, practicing 'asanas' -yoga postures- is the most familiar way to practice yoga. However, besides practicing yoga postures there are seven more ways in the eightfold path of yoga. Although the practice of yoga postures in itself could have a big impact on one’s life, the impact is multiplied by combining it with other ways within this path.
On the other hand, the practice of the physical yoga postures often makes people more receptive and interested to also start practicing these other ways of yoga. Consciously or unconsciously. If you personally would like to integrate this complete yoga practice into your life, the book by Irene van Gent provides some accessible tools to start this practice. Especially if you're not familiar yet with the eightfold path of yoga, the book “Geluk in 8 koppen thee” is a recommendation. Also if you already know a little bit about this path, but are looking for some practical tools to apply this knowledge into your life, this book could give you some good advice.
Enjoy your Habits© today!
This picture is taken at the lunchroom Native in Haarlem (recommendation!), where I am drinking a lovely hot cup of herbal tea of fresh turmeric and orange. The yoga leggings I am wearing are the Noli Silver Tree leggings, that are available at YogaHabits.