Updated: Jul 23
Yoga is a vast set of personal practices that includes a physical yoga practice of postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga philosophy.
Yoga books and teaching offer us guidance, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of our yoga practice and experience.
You can find here the best yoga books that I’ve read over the past decade.
These books offer a holistic view of yoga and range across topics such as technique and method of physical yoga poses, anatomy and posture, yoga philosophy for daily life, working with the breath, and mindfulness meditation.
I think you’ll get something valuable from all of these yoga books whether you are a beginner, intermediate student, or doing teacher training.
1. Vinyasa Krama Mandiram, Matthew Sweeney
Vinyasa Krama Mandiram provides a structured step-by-step framework to learn and practice six different Vinyasa Krama yoga sequences and pranayama (breathing techniques).
This book is a very useful reference when first starting to learn from memory the Vinyasa Krama yoga sequences as well as for deepening your understanding of the Vinyasa Krama yoga system.
My favourite thing in this book is Matthew’s 18 page visual asana library of yoga poses. I find this section fascinating to understand better different variations and progressions of yoga poses and sequencing.
2. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual, David Swenson
This book does an amazing job of explaining practically the fundamentals of Ashtanga yoga. I have found this a helpful book to reference and support a home yoga practice. And think it’s particularly useful for those newer to yoga or in their first few years of teaching.
I like how David provides different options for some of the more challenging yoga postures so that the practice is more accessible. As well as the shorter adapted sequences of Ashtanga yoga that you can practice at home when you don’t have time for a long yoga practice.
3. Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers, David Keil
Getting your posture and alignment right in different yoga poses is extremely important if you want to get all the physical benefits from your yoga practice, and be injury free.
This book looks at anatomy holistically to help you understand and implement, functional anatomy into your yoga practice.
I was first introduced to David’s book during a teacher training but it’s also very helpful for beginners to get a deeper understanding of practical anatomy during your yoga practice to allow integrated movement.
4. The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work, Donna Farhi
Whether we are conscious of it or not, breathing is an essential part of life. This book offers a practical and beautifully simple guide to the breath.
I first came across this book during a yoga retreat where we practiced together each day techniques covered in Donna’s book. Since then I have read, re-read, and shared teachings in this book as a way to better understand the breath.
One of the most valuable sections in this book is the focus on how to unlock a deeper and more free natural breath through practical and simple exercises.
5. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, Jon Kabat-Zinn
This book describes in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s own words the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. It covers formal and informal exercises covered in the 8-week MBSR program along with powerful stories from people that have followed the program.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation and reducing stress this is a must read book.
6. Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom, B.K.S. Iyengar
Applying your yoga practice to everyday life can be challenging. This book explores everyday challenges you might come across during your yoga journey through practical stories and yoga philosophy.
I have re-read Iyengar’s book several times and each time come away with different tools and understandings of how to overcome difficulties that you might face during your yoga practice and how you can integrate this into your daily life.
7. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, T. K. V. Desikachar
This book covers the history of modern yoga, a practical guide to developing a personalised yoga practice, and helps you get a greater understanding of yoga philosophy.
I love how Desikachar describes the teachings of his father, Sri T. Krishnamacharya—the grandfather of modern day yoga. And how he encourages you to take an individual approach to your yoga practice through intelligently constructing your practice with the principles of Vinyasa Krama.
Why Are These the Best Books?
You may notice a theme across all these books—they are all focused on practice! And that’s not by accident.
As interesting as yoga books are to read, learn, and theorize about the practice of yoga. At the end of the day, yoga is a practical discipline that focuses on finding unity with your body, breath, and mind.
So take your time to explore and read all about yoga. But then see if you can also start to apply and understand the topics covered in these yoga books in your personal practice.
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