Top Ten Favorite Books for Yoga Practitioners

As people move along the yoga journey, a natural desire comes with wanting to learn more about the transformation that comes from Yoga. Beyond taking workshops, books seem like the best path to learning more. I will not kid you; many of the ancient texts are very philosophical and require a deep dive into scholarly study. The good news is there are plenty of great reads which are a bit easier to digest.

The one question I dread is what are the best books to read on Yoga. I want to answer all of them! Sure sometimes they can get a bit repetitive, and other times it is difficult to read, but still choosing them was tough. I am not really sure I am not changing my mind as I write this. With that disclaimer, here we go in no particular order.

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer – In short, Singer breaks down this very basic idea that you are not your mind. Your mind has made up its own arbitrary list of likes and dislikes and preferences. The reason you suffer and are unhappy is because the outside world is not conforming to your idea of how you think it should be. The more time you (soul, spirit, observer you) can spend watching what your “monkey mind” is doing and saying, the more you can be free to enjoy life as it unfolds.

Untethered Soul

Light On Yoga By B.K.S. Iyengar – this is like the bible of Yoga, combining the philosophy and practice of Yoga.  What I love about this book is the description of the technique in each pose along with a picture and the effects. The book also describes the technique and effects of pranayama practices.

The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice By T. K. V. Desikachar I have a little confession, this was an assigned book for yoga teacher training and at first I just could not get into it and so I did not really read it, I just looked at it. Nine months later I read a quote from the book that I did not recall at all: “We can never experience our real nature if we do not expose ourselves to change”. I humbly picked up again and I really loved it. His presentation of the practice creates a true moving meditation. The philosophy of the sutras and yoganjalisaram is just lovely. There is a lot to unpack and his wisdom is contagious. 

Yoga – The Practice of Movement and Stillness by Erich Schiffmann. This was one of the first books I had when I started teaching. For me it is a classic text that describes how to pratice and create a unification between the mind, body and spirit. His message is very clear, keep it simple and seek out stillness. It is only when we are still that we can ask for what we need, hear the answer and find the strength to believe in the response. Twenty five years later and this is still a favorite.

Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater. Yoga is not just about the asana practice, and Judith Lasater does an amazing job of reminding us of the ethical, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of yoga. This book is not about poses or how to breathe nor meditation. It is all about ways to experience life off the mat using the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras. The book is divided into three sections: (1) awakening your awareness in yourself, (2) your relationship with other people, and (3) your relationship with your community and the world. My favorite thing is the practical suggestions, like the next time you play a game, do not keep score and enjoy the game.

Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates. This guy is super awesome. If you are looking to incorporate the Yoga Sutras into your practice, this is the book. The book is comprised of 365 meditations with a quote – one for every day of the year. Some I used in my practice, some I used as journal prompts, and some I used to think about when I walked my dog. As a teacher, this book has been an inspiration to create a class sequence with a theme.

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