As a teacher, it’s important to have some idea about the eight limbs of Yoga and a few details from the Bhagavat Gita. It’s even better, when we’ve got our Yamas and Niyamas memorized, even implemented to a certain degree.
To learn about all things yoga, there are numerous fantastic and inspiring yoga books out there by Patanjali, Iyengar, Gurmukh, to name just a few. Nevertheless, I’m always hunting for new inspiration for my classes. That, and I have the odd talent for finding tiny bookstores with out-of-print editions of all sorts of wonderful literature. So here is my treasured list, some of which is a little off the beaten Yoga-book path. These gems are suitable for beginners AND advanced Yogis and I keep coming back to them frequently. I bet you will too:
1. Stephen Levine: Healing into Life and Death
Why I love it: Levine does not shy away from the really big stuff in life of which terminal illness and death certainly are a part. At the same time, he teaches us that healing can happen, even if our physical bodies do not recover from illness. Truly powerful and worth reading over and over.
2. Hugh Prather: I touch the Earth and the Earth touches me
Why I love it: Prather writes, sort of stream-of-consciousness poetry or snipits on spirituality, sexuality, really just daily thoughts that we can all relate to and that make us human first, maybe enlightened second.
3. Ana Forrest: Fierce Medicine
Why I love it: The woman warrior among the yoginis of our time, Ana offers a very honest perspective, whether she talks about her own battle with addiction or a specific asana. She encourages us to take a good, hard look at what isn’t working for us and invites us to commit to transforming trauma or bad stuff until it becomes a thing of beauty.
4. Josephine Fairley: Yoga for Life
Why I love it: This book was a completely coincidental find on an overloaded sale table. Even though it addresses women in their 40s and up, I think it is great book for any aspiring yogi. I’m not sure it is still in print but Fairley’s unpretentious and down-to-earth recommendations make it so terribly easy to start your own home yoga practice, you should try to get it anyway!
5. Stephen Bodian: Meditation for Dummies
Why I love it: That’s right, one from the …for Dummies series. It’s an oldie but goodie because it features so many techniques to get you started and even if you have meditated for a long time, you’ll probably still find inspiring ideas or ways to look at meditation in a new way.
6. Thich Nath Hanh: Peace is Every Step
Why I love it: Having grown up with many bibles in the house (and never really enjoying the reading that much), this book became my chosen bible. I take it everywhere I go because the words are very simple and comforting and I always seem to open it up exactly on the page I need that day-magic!
7. John Mundahl: Soul to Soul
Why I love it: This one is especially great for yoga teachers, offering little stories, intentions and inspiration to begin or end your class. You’ll want to finish reading it in one go, then start again right away.
8. Paramahansa Yogananda: Autobiography of a Yogi
Why I love it: Even if this one is a little more obvious than the other books on this list, it belongs here because once you’ve gotten through the sometimes slightly awkward writing style, the pearls of wisdom by one of yoga top wisemen, are indispensable and at times, even mystical.
9. Liz Lark: 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom
Why I love it: This is a beautifully illustrated tiny book to take along with you anywhere or maybe keep it close to your altar for spontaneous pick-up. There are literally 1001 useful and inspired teaching and learning moments in there. Great gift idea too!
10. Timothy Mc Call, M.D.: Yoga as Medicine
Why I love it: Here’s a real go-to manual for some serious conditions that students come to yoga with all the time. Anything from back pain to fibromyalgia to depression and cancer. This book gives you the scientific insights as well as asanas to try out with students or by yourself. I’ve referred back to it over and over, especially for my private classes.
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did and still do. What are some of your secret best yoga books? Lemme know in the comments below!