I'm often asked what books on yoga I've really enjoyed and which ones I'd recommend to others. Here is a list of some of my favourites (recently updated):
1. The Heart of Yoga - T.K.V. Desikachar
The Heart of Yoga is the first 'yoga book' I picked up, it quite literally blew my mind wide open. Within this text I found a well explained distillation of this extensive practice called yoga. This book systematically breaks down the steps for developing a complete well rounded practice. It was this book that planted the seed of undertaking yoga teacher training.
2. The Yama's and Niyama's - Deborah Adele
The book explores yoga's ethical codes (or guidelines) in a western context that can be easily understood. It also includes a number of contemplation points and exercises that can be used as a fantastic tool for self awareness. I have read this book more times that I can count, and it's always one of the first that I recommend for anybody serious about going beyond the asana with their practice.
3. The Radiance Sutra's - Lorin Roche
This book based on meditation techniques beautifully expands on a text called the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. It contains 112 sutra's (or aphorisms) that are so beautifully worded that it had me transfixed at first read. I read this one from cover to cover in just a few sittings. I find myself going back to this book often.
4. How Yoga Works - Michael Roach
This is a beautiful fiction book that tells the story of how yoga spread to Tibet from India over a thousand years ago. It's a very easy read and a wonderful introduction to the philosophy of yoga.
5. Science of Breath - Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine & Alan Hymes
Are you too fascinated by the breath? If so this book is a must read. Both western and eastern perspectives are explored side by side to give a comprehensive picture of how our breath works and the impact it has upon body and mind. It covers everything from the role of the little hairs in your nose to techniques for moving prana into sushumna.
6. The Bhagavad Gita - Winthrop Sargeant
I've read numerous translations of the Gita over the years but this one is the one I regularly return to. I really love the simple translations and the clear easy to follow format. In the beginning of the book you can also find a large exposition of the characters and the context behind the epic battle.
7. The Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali - Swami Satchidananda
For anyone looking to to go beyond asana then this is a great place to start, the yoga sutras. In this book the Sutras are presented in Sanskrit with translation, transliteration, and then commentary. It's not the easiest read but it's a book that you will pick up many times in your lifetime understanding a little more each time.
8. Myths of the Asanas: The Ancient Origins of Yoga - Alanna Kaivalya
Have you ever wondered why the splits position is called Hanumanasana, or where the name Warrior came from in the yoga poses? This is a great book explaining the mythology behind the yoga postures. This is another one that I read cover to cover in only a few sittings.
9. Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra - Swami Satyananda Saraswati
This book is best described as a practice manual, it provides comprehensive descriptions of the practices including technique, contra-indications and benefits. This is a great reference manual for any teacher or practitioner.
10. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga - Bernie Clark
A fantastic introduction to yin yoga and a great practice manual. In this book Bernie explains the origins of yin yoga, the philosophy behind it and the benefits. Several of the poses are detailed, however the focus in primarily on the lower (yin part) body.
11. Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System - Anodea Judith
I found this book to be a great, practical, easy to understand read about the energetic centres in the body (chakras). It provides a simple quiz to identify your dominant and less strong chakras along with tools (meditation and yoga) to bring more balance.
12. Yoga & Ayurveda - David Frawley
This one is a real gem, another one of my regular reference guides. I really love how this book sets the context for practice by outlining Samkhya Philosophy in a clear easy way to follow. Key yoga concepts are explained with great clarity. So many important concepts for a wholistic understanding of yoga are contained within this text. It is a little dense in places and won't be easy to completely assimilate but not many yoga texts are! Can't recommend this one highly enough for anyone seeking the broader context of yoga practice.
13. Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy - Sadhguru
I can't recall too much of this book other than I thought it was great at the time! This book is all about awakening your own inner intelligence. Sadhguru is a great story teller, he has a real knack for making things that would normally be incomprehensible easy to understand. I've read a number of his books and this one was by far the best.
14. The Secret of the Yoga Sutra Samadhi Pada - Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
I've been through the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali many of times but it was this text that really started to bring the teachings to life. Within this book Pandit Rajamani shares the hidden teachings behind the Sutras.
15. Yoga Mat Companion Series - Ray Long, MD
I've picked up a number of books on anatomy and yoga but for me, this was the one that I found most easy to understand. It has lot's of great colour pictures that help to clearly demonstrate concepts. I also love that that each individual posture is broken down and explained in detail along with tips on cues to give to help students experience the posture.
16. Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide - Vasant Lad
This is one of the best books that I've picked up to date on the science of Ayurveda. I found it to be well presented and easy to understand. It covers topics such as the origins of Ayurveda, basic principles, diagnosis, treatment and diet.
This one is not a book, it's a DVD, but I believe all yoga teachers should watch this:
17. Anatomy for Yoga - Paul Grilley
This DVD really gave me a deep appreciation for just how much bone variation there can be from person to person and how this impacts on one's ability to achieve the textbook yoga pose. As a teacher I feel that this was probably the most important part of all of my training/study.
Other books that aren't strictly yoga but great reads:
18. The Desire Map - Danielle La Porte
I was introduced to Danielle's work around goals and core desired feelings only a few months ago and immediately I connected to what she had to share. This is a really really good book and a practice manual around how to create 'goals with souls'. It's a great tool of self enquiry and tool for getting clear on direction.
19. Freedom from the Known - Jiddu Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti has a real knack for prompting you to question everything you think you know/believe. I've read a few of his books but this was my favourite. The key theme of this one is finding your own path rather than following expectations of others. It's presented as a collection of talks in question/answer format.
20. Tao Te Ching - Derek Lin
This was the first book that I read on the philosophical Chinese tradition of Taoism. It's similar to the yoga and radiance sutra's in that it contains a number of passages from the original text that have the interpreted and explained by the author. This book poetically brings together spirituality, nature, and duality (the extremes in life) and is a really beautiful read.
Mandy Habener (Dumas)