Reading yoga – my favourite yoga books

You may well find yourself with a little bit of extra time at the moment or maybe you’ve watched every single boxset on offer. However you’re feeling I know a lot of us are reaching to the book shelf for a little bit of comfort. Whether it be familiar classics that you love or discovering something new.

I’ve dived head first into my bookshelf too, discovering not only copious amounts of whodunnits but also my favourite books on yoga which I learn from every time I read them.

Perfectly Imperfect – Baron Baptiste – A little pocket sized book full of “the art and soul of yoga practice”. Split into chapters looking at why and how we practice yoga this book is NOT a how to of postures but more of a guide to the internal workings of a personal practice. Introducing the idea that there is no right and wrong way to practice and that really you are your best teacher, everything else is a guide. I find nuggets of beauty, just like this one, in this book every time I pick it up –

“Asanas are useful tools to align the body, mind, emotions and breath, but you want to give up the idea that they are projects to be completed and achieved and begin to see them as doorways opening into greater discovery and action that will take you into being more fully alive”

Baron Baptiste

How Yoga Works – Gesne Michael Roach – If you’ve heard of The Yoga Sutra but have never managed to read them or found them hard going then this is totally the book for you. The Yoga Sutra is one the formative texts on ancient yoga, describing how the practice of yoga (in this case a collection of basic asanas but mainly breathwork, meditation and intention) can change your body, mind and life. This genius book distills the lessons of The Yoga Sutra into a beautiful story of how yoga travelled to Tibet from India thousands of years ago through the medium of one little girl and her tiny dog.

The Science of Breath – Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine and Alan Hymes – This book was on my reading list for my 200hr training. It’s thin and written in easily digestible English but so informative on breath. It not only looks at the actual science of how respiration works and nasal function but also links it all back to yoga, energy, pranayama and bandhas. It really is a lovely little book distilling the importance of breath in your yoga practice.

The Heart of Yoga – TKV Desikachar – Written by the son of Krishnamacharya, who was one of the founders of modern yoga, this book outlines a step to step path to developing a complete yoga practice. Not only focusing on physical yoga postures but also breathwork, meditation and yoga philosophy. There is also a really lovely section discussing the understanding of yoga and also the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.

Your Body Your Yoga – Bernie Clark – I adore this book, for non teachers it may be a little heavy on the actual anatomy of the body but it is great for explaining how all bodies are different. There are so many physical reasons why our yoga practice may look different to the person on the mat next to us. This book is great at giving an insight into some of these, whether it be the length of your arms or the shape of the head of your femur, it all makes a difference to how postures feel and look for you.

Yoga Girl – Rachel Brathen – I don’t think you can ever have been in the yoga corner of the internet without coming across Rachel Brathen. This book is half autobiography, half yoga tutorials. They are not super in depth but are great for giving some insight into postures for a home practice. The story of how Rachel found happiness through her yoga practice is also a great read.

If you have any books on yoga that you really rate, please pop them in the comments below. I’m sure we’re all going to continue to have some time to read!

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