books to start your yoga journey

Sandra, a new reader, wrote:

“I want to thank you for a great blog. It is truly an inspiration. I hope you are rid of your trolls. They are a pain.

I am wondering if you could recommend two books as I stand here in the beginning of my yoga journey. I would have liked to email you but couldn’t find any email address on your blog (which is understandable considering your troll visits).”

Sandra, thanks so much for your wonderful compliment, I am blessed to receive such kind words from global readers. Yes, trolls are a pain; I’ve had to make my other blog by invitation only and I now see the same troll is skulking around this blog. This blog may also go the way of invited readers only.

Sandra, I will give you more than two books to help get you going on your yoga journey. Remember that these books may not resonate with you at this time — the operative words are “at this time.” When I got back on the yoga path I bought a ton of books some of which I put down after reading a few chapters. I picked them up again a few years later and I devoured them because I was at a different stage in my yoga development. You will find this true for you, too.

In no particular order, these are books I find invaluable. Remember that these are the books that shaped my teaching; someone on a different yoga path such as Iyengar or astanga will have their own favorite yoga books….

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga — Srivatsa Ramaswami
Yoga Beneath the Surface — Srivatsa Ramaswami
Yoga For the Three Stages of Life — Srivatsa Ramawami
Bringing Yoga To Life — Donna Farhi
Enlighten Your Body: Yoga for Mind-Body Awareness — Linda Christy Weiler
Mindfulness Yoga — Frank Jude Boccio
Yoga of Heart — Mark Whitwell
Yoga for Transformation — Gary Kraftsow
Yoga for Wellness — Gary Kraftsow
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self — Stephen Cope
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness — Erich Schiffmann
Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness — Will Johnson
The Heart of Yoga — TKV Desikachar

Of course you must get a good translation of the Yoga Sutra-s and the ones I like are The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali by Chip Hartranft and Reflections on Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali by Desikachar, however, I don’t think this is available in the United States. Hartranft’s book blends Buddhist thought with the Sutras, writing from the perspective that it was impossible for Patanjali not to be influenced by Buddhism when he wrote the Sutra-s.

The ancient yoga texts are also not to be forgotten:

Hatha Yoga Pradipika — Swami Muktibodhananda
Pure Yoga (a translation of The Gherandasamhita) — Yogi Pranavanadna
Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya
Yogayajnavalkya Samhita: The Yoga Treatise of Yajnavalkya

The last book will most likely be the most difficult to find. It is one of the oldest texts on Yoga and it is a dialogue between the sage Yajnavalkya and his wife Gargi, who was considered one of the most learned women of all times. The book is dedicated to “all great women.”

Last but not least, The Bhagavad Gita, translation by Easwaran.

If you were in my teacher training, I would ask you to start off by reading these three books: Yoga Beneath the Surface; The Heart of Yoga; Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.

Happy reading!

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