10 Must Read Books on Yoga

By Michael Quesada December 18, 2018

10 Must Read Books on Yoga

Best Yoga Books

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” said Joseph Addison roughly 300 years ago.

This quote can never be more relevant than it is today.  In any field and discipline, reading is an integral part of learning.  For those into fitness, Yoga, for instance, it is not only enough to go out there and stretch your muscles.  Reading about Yoga can improve your chances of success, increase your appreciation of the craft, and give you better results.  By reading, you’ll actually gain factual knowledge and learn from other people’s stories and wisdom.

To accompany you in your Yoga journey, we have compiled the ten best Yoga books that will inspire you to do better in this physical, mental, and spiritual exercise.  These books will not only guide you but also inspire you to live a better life.

1. Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

Considered as the bible of modern Yoga, this 1996 classic is a comprehensive and practical source of yoga postures and breathing exercises with over 600 photographs to check on.  The poses are designed for both beginners and advanced Yogis in mind and finishes with yoga courses and curative asanas for various medical conditions.

Readers of this book will primarily benefit from the wisdom of foremost yoga master and teacher Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar or more known as B.K.S. Iyengar.  He was one of the earliest students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga.  He also wrote many spiritual books such as Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life.

Purchase from Amazon here.

2. Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God, translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood

The gospel of Hinduism is embodied in the Bhagavad Gita, considered as one of the world's greatest religious classics.  This translated version of this spiritual book provides a simple and clear message to every ordinary man looking to find answers on life's personal and social struggles.  One of the texts inside the Bhagavad Gita is the long conversation between the deity Krishna and his pupil Arjuna where the two discussed the most baffling of ethical dilemmas, from as destructive as war and up to the sinfulness of lust and laziness.  The teachings of the book include yoga's true spiritual, cultural, as well as historical context and significance.

Purchase from Amazon here.

Yoga Books

3. Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

For yoga starters, truly connecting with one's inner body seems challenging.  This book, regarded as the best yoga anatomy book to date, prints a closer look into how the body works during yoga and what it is actually doing in a particular pose. In full color, it shows what muscles or bones are lengthened and what obstacles may be encountered along the way, even in one’s breathing pattern.

Written by anatomy professor Leslie Kaminoff, the book details how minor alterations in a pose can enhance or reduce the effectiveness of yoga, and how connected one's breathing is to the spine, and body position.

Kaminoff is the founder of Breathing Project, New York City's premiere yoga studio dedicated to the teaching of individualised, breath-centred yoga practice and therapy.

Purchase from Amazon here.

4. The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living by Stephen Cope

Written by an American psychotherapist and yoga master, Stephen Cope examines yoga as not only a form of physical routines and posture, but an ancient spiritual practice that runs deep a person's character and emotions.  It explores the Yogasutra, a collection of texts written by the sage, Patanjali, around 400 C.E. that lays out the entire path of inner development made up of practices that build character, mental power, and spiritual realisation.

Further, the author translates Yoga philosophy to modern living and relationships, then integrates this with insights from modern psychology, neuroscience, religion, and philosophy.  The book is perfect for anyone who wants to pursue better relationships and experience enhanced creativity in an ethical and graceful means.

Purchase on Amazon here.

Yoga Books

5. Poser: My Life in Twenty Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer

The book takes the story of the author herself Claire Dederer on how she embraced motherhood and how yoga assisted her to find balance in life.  Probably the stand out among the Yoga materials so far listed, the book injects wry humor and honesty that every woman in their lifetime can relate to.

In one of the books reviews, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert said:

"Thank goodness for Claire Dederer, who has written the book we all need: the long-awaited funny, smart, clear-headed, thoughtful, truthful, and inspiring yoga memoir. To simplify my praise: I absolutely loved this book.”

Purchase on Amazon here.

6. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

As the first book to combine hatha yoga and meditation, Erich Schiffmann offers insight on how to achieve healthful beauty such as the process of slowing down ageing, toning the body, and increasing stamina and strength.  The author also offers easy-to-follow yoga poses tutorials as well as techniques for mindful breathing and conscious physical immobility to gracefully cultivate inner peace, flexibility and balance.

Purchase on Amazon here.

Yoga Books

7. The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown

With 170 yoga poses to learn from, this 400-page pocket-friendly book (sized 6.5” x 5.5”) makes it easy to bring everywhere for reference.  The book begins with an introduction to yoga and concludes with a yoga therapy session.  Most of its content, however, is on yoga poses and sequence that readers can choose from based on their personal needs and abilities.

Aside from postures, the book also digs into the various kinds of yoga and advice on breathing techniques.  Moreover, the author depicts how yoga helps in healing, pregnancy, de-stressing and meditation.

Purchase on Amazon here.

8. Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Lasater

Perfect for those who do yoga to destress, this book employs in-depth information on restorative yoga, such as Savasana (the basic relaxation pose).  In general, the author relies on supported poses and breathing exercises that promote the healing of chronic stress.  A book specially made for the busy bee, the author dedicates a special section on how to perform a 15-minute yoga session.

The author also introduces the concept of Totally Invisible Relaxation as well as explains yoga programs for back pain, headaches, insomnia, jet lag, and breathing problems among others.  Women readers would also benefit from a chapter that discusses pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, and how these matters relate to yoga.

Purchase on Amazon here.

Yoga Books

9. Hell-Bent by Benjamin Lorr

The book explores the dynamics and culture of Bikram yoga (hot yoga) in American society.  It tells the story of the author or Benjamin Lorr who found yoga reinventing his life.  It also critically elaborates on the science of pain and how heated yoga provides a quasi-magical healing experience.

It states that through the process of acclimatization, the body tends to adapt to repeated exposures to intense heat.  Over time, this results in increased athletic efficiency, lower levels of blood cortisol, and other changes in the body that could be viewed as advantageous.

Purchase on Amazon here.

10. The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg

If you're wondering how yoga became this popular today, this book by Michelle Goldberg tells you the answer.  It tells the story of Indra Devi, one of the first people to teach postural yoga in the United States.

Born in Russia in 1899, Devi started spreading Yoga in Shanghai during the World War II, then in Hollywood, where her students included Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo.  She also spread the Yoga movement in Mexico when she ran a Yoga school and in Buenos Aires at the invitation of a besotted rock star.  Every Yoga starter wants to read this to appreciate how yoga spread around the world.

Purchase on Amazon here.

Yoga Books

CONCLUSION

The best Yoga books that made it to our top 10 list are some of the most recognized in the Yoga community.  Most yoga lovers must have read one or two of these books in their lifetime.  They have done so not just for the sake of knowing, but of learning how Yoga adds value and meaning to their life.

Meanwhile, books that have not made it here does not mean they are up to no good.  In fact, there are more great Yoga books out there that have taught and inspired so many Yogis around the world.  If you wish to find them, you may opt to do your own research online or by personally asking your yoga teacher or a friend about their recommendations.

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10 Best Books For Yogis


Michael Quesada

Founder of this website; currently living vicariously through himself.


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