My Favourite Yoga Books
The Books I Love
I often get asked by students who are starting yoga, what books they should read. The answer is probably none. (Feel it and find a great teacher to guide you!) Like a great teacher, yoga books come to you- the one you need is the one that jumps out at you on the shelf, or is gifted to you when you least expect it. But for those intellectual types who gain wisdom through the words of the written page, and want some recommendations, I have compiled this small list of books I love. It is completely personal, I was never interested in yogic theory books until after my YTT (so there aren't many of them included) but over the years I was absorbing information that made sense to me and inspired me, and all of it came from a yogic philosophy. The first three books below changed my outlook on life when I first read them in my early 20s. Each of the others holds a very special place in my heart.
1. Perfect Health by D. Choprah - the best, easiest to read and most comprehensive book on Ayurveda I have found. Every other time I have picked up a book on Ayurveda it was like picking up the Bible, so dense, tiny font sizes and really inaccessable. I found this book lying on my sister's bed (to this day we still don't know how it got there) and reading it inspired me to embark upon the yoga and ayurvedic path at 19.
2. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by D. Choprah - Unpacking the Laws of the Universe. When I first read this at 21 it completely blew my mind! Since then much of this way of thinking has entered the mainstream, which is so incredible. Deepak's perspective and prose makes even quantum physics accessable, a joy to read.
3. You Can Heal Your Life by L. Hay - To accept and love yourself right now as you are ... Um what? Not thinner? Not when somebody else loves me? Just as is?? Louise Hay created a guidebook to complete self acceptance and shows you why taking responsibility for your health through positive states of mind is key in Healing your body.
4. Health Healing and Beyond by Desikachar - An insightful and profound biography on the Grandaddy of modern yoga, Krishnamachariya. When I was in Rishikesh I was buying a whole heap of "Necessary Heavy Yoga Books For Yoga Teachers," when I saw this on the shelf. It almost felt naughty reading such a fun book before my homework books, but it ended up being exactly what I needed. Teaching me all about a lineage of practise I was just about to embark upon with a teacher I was still yet to meet. That's why I say follow your gut.
5. Women Who Run With Wolves - The Wild Woman’s bible. Heavy and long. I feel like reading this book is a life's work. When I do pick it up I devour it and underline every word and become an evangelical, trying read it out to every person I meet. Then I put it down and it sits on my shelf for several years making me feel guilty for not finishing it. It’s a complicated relationship thats been going on since the 90s.
6. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - I didn’t technically read this book, I actually found the audio version randomly on a CD that someone sent me years ago (whoever you were, thank you!) and started listening to it about a year ago. The power of this recording comes less from the actual words (which are still incredible) but more from the sense of presence that Eckhart’s voice embodies. That is the real teaching.
7. Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar- This is a heavy one and is a favourite on every “must read before you start yoga teacher training” list. To be honest, for me none of it really made sense until after my training. Then it becomes a lot easier to read and since it has become a great reference and inspiration for me in traditional postures when I am feeling in a bit of a rut.
8. Yoga Nidra by Bihar School (and every other book by them) - I’ve been teaching a variation of yoga nidra since I was 10 (don’t ask I have no idea where it came from…) But reading this gave me all of the scientific grounding that my intellectual mind loves. It is a great reference for yoga teachers, as are so many of the Bihar School books. Those striped covers are seen across every yogi’s bookshelf, and there are many of them! That’s why they all get lumped into one.
9. Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith - My reference and compendium on the Chakras. I am constantly reading and re-reading this book. Interestingly, when I first picked it up it took me a long time to read, it was like I couldn’t move on from a chapter until I had worked through and cleared the chakra I was reading about. This book made me do the curriculum.
10. Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy - It’s hard to find books on Tantra that are worthwhile reading. I am still making my way through this one, but it forms a great basic reference guide to understanding the world of Tantra. And it includes loads of saucy drawings.
11. (ok so one more!) The Tao Te Ching/ The Tao of Pooh/ The Te of Piglet - I had a therapist years ago who had a version of The Tao Te Ching on her shelf, I was so drawn to it, she leant it to me! I devoured it, every line made me actually breathe more deeply... People on the tram made comments, seriously... Since then I haven’t found a translation that affected me in the same way (I don’t know which one it was!) but the Tao of Pooh series distils the teachings in such a fun and sweet way. They are such a Tao thing to read, so easy and flowy.
AND A Secret addition
12. Lessons in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism - read at your own risk!