As students of yoga, we often get to a place where we want to learn more about yoga than simply the physical practice. This list of books has been integral to my understanding of yoga, yogic philosophy, meditation, and practices that are closely related to yoga.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the foundational text for the practice of yoga. It is arguably the most important text for the understanding of classical yoga. Sutras are intended to be concise expressions or explanations of principles that seem almost basic at first glance, but with repeated exposure they explain the very meaning of the universe. If you are looking to introduce yourself to yoga philosophy, you cannot go wrong with this text.
Light on Yoga
By B.K.S. Iyengar
This is another classic book for the understanding of yoga and the practice of asana; the physical poses of yoga. Light on Yoga is considered to be the definitive guide to the practice of yoga. This book isn't necessarily one you would read from front to back, as much of the book is photos and explanations of how to do particular poses, but it is a great reference book for expanding your practice.
The Bhagavad Gita
Translation by Eknath Easwaran
This beautiful book is a roughly 4500 (there are many different theories on the date) year old Hindu text that through a wonderful story, explains many philosophies of yoga and Hinduism. It is a lovely book to read and it describes the inner struggles for self-mastery that we seek in our yoga practice.
Myths of the Asanas
By Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooji
Myths of the Asanas is another great reference book, although you could certainly read it cover to cover as well. This book is a collection of all of the different myths that are associated with the poses of yoga. It gives you a wonderful background for why poses are called what they are called and can certainly shift how you practice on your mat.
Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change
By Pema Chödrön
This incredible book is one of my all-time favorites. Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist monk who has a fantastic way of explaining Buddhist philosophy and applying it to the lives of householders like us. This book is perfect for any difficult moment in your life and will stick with you for years to come.
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
This is a must read for those of you into spirituality and mastering the noise in your mind. Singer describes what happens in our minds beautifully and gives great advice on how to quiet ourselves so that we can really understand what is happening in our hearts and minds.
Meditations from the Mat
by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
I read from Meditations from the Mat regularly in class. It is a gorgeous book that you could read from daily, flip through occasionally, or anywhere in between. It is full of profound insights and explanations of yoga, heartfelt personal stories, and a lovely outline of the basic philosophies of yoga. If the Yoga Sutras seem too intense for you, this is a great book to get the basics of yoga without the austerity of ancient philosophical texts.
The Art of Vinyasa
by Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor
Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor are giants in the yoga world. They have spent a lifetime dedicated to their practices and brought yoga to so many people. This book is a life's project and is another fantastic reference book for your practice. Their explanation of the poses and the practice are wonderful and the book is truly a work of art.
A New Earth
By Eckhart Tolle
A classic book in the field of spirituality and consciousness. Tolle is an amazing writer and thinker and has a wonderful way of explaining very profound concepts. It is a little more dense than some of the other books we have read, but very powerful and the group really enjoyed the book.
The Book of Joy
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
I cannot say enough about the joy I found reading this incredible book. Not only is the content rich with inspiration, but the friendship of these two men is beautiful to read about. It truly makes you feel that we can all come together and overcome any obstacle in front of us on our path to joy.