Yoga books can be a wonderful resource to learn about Indian philosophy, mysticism, and deepen your existing physical fitness practice. This is a collection of my favorites, that I reference on a regular basis. If you are interested in learning yoga “asanas” or poses, try taking your first class with a certified instructor to avoid injury and learn the proper form to get the full benefits of the physical practice.
608 Asanas by Dharma Mittra
Legendary yoga instructor, Dharma Mittra, who is the founder of of the Dharma Yoga Centerin New York City, photographed himself in 908 yoga postures. He later produced the influential poster that has sold over 50,000 copies. He chose 608 of the yoga poses for this visually stunning, pocket-sized book, that is easy to tote for easy reference. There is something for every level – beginning, intermediate, advanced- from traditional forms of yoga demonstrated by the master I trained with for my certification.
Ram Das Be Here Now
A classic book that was critical in opening many Westerners’ eyes to the teachings of the East. Ram Das, born Dr. Richard Alpert, was a Harvard professor before he met his guru Neem Caroli Baba, a prominent Indian yogi in 1967. This is a unique look into a very personal journey by a free spirited, highly intellectual Westerner. Ram Das’ writings and teaching continue to bring awareness and help people on their own journey to spiritual fulfillment.
Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating the Body and Soul
Sharon Gannon and David Life, creators of the popular Jivamukti Yoga method and co-founders of the Jivamukti studios located in New York City, present their unique style of yoga in book form. They provide instruction and background into an intensely physical and spiritual system that makes up an authentic yoga practice, including other practices of yogis like vegetarianism and meditation. They focus not only on the physical postures but also on their origins and the psychotherapeutic benefits that come with consistent practice and living a life of non-harming.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the oldest texts written on Hatha-style yoga, believed to have been written between the 6th and 15th centuries A.D. It contains the original Sanskrit verses with new English translations by modern day yogis. The book is full of instructive drawings of all the asanas, along with other images showing practices including meditation techniques, pranayama breathing, and detailed descriptions of mudra and bandha practices. A must-have for serious yogis.
The Heart of Yoga
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived for 100 years, is one of the most well-known and highly respected yogis of our time. In “The Heart of Yoga”, his son, Desikachar – also a well-known yogi – offers a synopsis of his father’s system as well as his own practical approach focused on the needs of the individual. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn what the science of yoga really is and how the ancient practice has survived throughout the centuries. Desikachar unravels complex techniques and explains how even the beginning yoga student may tailor his practice to his own age, health, and lifestyle. He tells us why yoga is a “mirror with which we can look inside ourselves”.
Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Yoga
Considered to be the first truly comprehensive introduction to the practice of yoga, this book was created by a yoga teacher with over 25 years of experience. Along with the editors of Yoga Journal, it offers all the practical instruction you’ll need to develop your own at-home yoga practice. It begins with an explanation of the origin of yoga and then goes on to describe the variety of yoga styles – helping you to choose the method that’s right for you. It has simple, easy-to-follow instructions, photographs of the poses, and explains why yoga is not just a fitness regime. A perfect book for beginners.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda
Yogananda is a master yogi and storyteller who takes you along on his life-long journey towards enlightenment. He begins by taking you through his childhood, describing each phase of his life with wonderment, as he undergoes spiritual and physical transformation, traveling to many mystical locales throughout India. He gives the reader an intimate account of his encounters with modern-day saints and illuminated masters, as he explains how yogis perform miracles and attain self-mastery.
The Yoga Sutras, Translation and commentary by Swami Satchidananda
The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life. The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters. In this classic context, Sri Swamiji offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony.
Light on Yoga
Written by the revered, world famous yoga master B. K. S. Iyengar, he explains how to incorporate yogic techniques and easy “hints” into modern life. Each pose is impressively demonstarted by Iyengar himself and also accompanied by a list of curative, healthy benefits that can be attained from practicing the poses regularly.