Every once in a while, I get asked if I have any favorite yoga books. I’ll answer calmly, “Sure,” but inside I’m jumping up and down. Yoga books are my favorite thing ever and they are the only books that never make it to the donate pile when we’re cleaning or reorganizing. They mean so much to me. But navigating through the world of yoga books online can be daunting. There are a million of them. I have whittled it down to my favorite nine. This list is by no means exhaustive, but they are a good place to start.
This is the one book that everyone has. It is insanely complete when it comes to the poses of yoga. We’re talking 100s of photographs and step by step entry into poses. When I started practicing yoga and got my hands on this book, I read it four times. I still reference it often, but be warned: it’s a textbook (not the size of one, but the tone of it). It is a practical how-to guide. It is not a feel-good, woo-woo, I’m so inspired kind of book. It’s dry and clinical and a must-read. I love it. Like I said, I reference it often.
This book. This book came out when I had been practicing for about two years. The first year I started practicing yoga, I was too scared to walk into a yoga studio. Funny to think about that now. I had three DVDs from Rodney Yee at Gaiam and I just cycled through them every day. By 2001, I found a little studio a couple of blocks away from where I was working in downtown Seattle and I started practicing in person, hiding in the back of the room. That’s the year I became a yogi, as opposed to somebody just doing the poses. This book was the first book that really spoke to me. Yep, it’s by Christy Turlington, and if you’re thinking, “What could a supermodel possibly know about yoga?” then you might be surprised to know that she is a true yogi (self-described ‘hard-core’). I LOVE this book. Get the hardcover, it’s beautiful and worth it. It is a great, personal exploration of how a real person can be a yogi.
If you are a student of mine, you have probably done the Ashtanga Primary Series with me. I love it. Ashtanga yoga – the parent of vinyasa – is a beautiful, methodical, athletic series. It is challenging and traditional. It has the reputation of being somewhat militant. For that reason, I found David Swenson’s book, as well as David Swenson the person, to be a revelation. Where you may have been directed away from modifications by Ashtanga teachers, he welcomes them and this book is full of direction for modifications. The photography and explanations in it are beautiful and clear. I highly recommend it.
If you don’t know who Kathryn Budig is, you’re missing out. Her image is Probably on your ToeSox package if you’ve ever taken barre. She is an amazing yogi, a prolific writer, and one of the most entertaining people ever. This book is visually stunning and playful and broad, from yoga poses to recipes to some real conversations about self-image. She is delightful and you will love this. Also, while you’re at it, follow her on Instagram 🙂
I’ve read from this book many times in class, so if you’re a regular student of mine, you’ve probably heard some of this. The yamas and the niyamas are the first two limbs of of the eight limbs of yoga, and arguably the most important. More important than the physical poses, breathing and pranayama, even meditation. This is where it starts. This road map of how to exist as a yogi in this world. This book cracks the code wide open with very real-world application. I was inspired by Adele’s thoughtful and complex view of these principles. She had me thinking in new ways and I grateful for that.
If you are a visual learner like I am, the illustrations of this book are so amazing. They will help you understand how and why your muscles are working, engaging, and stretching the way they are in poses.
Pranayama is a broad field of study. I confess that I feel like I have only brushed the surface in my own practice. It’s on my to-do list every year lol. I did, however, read this book and found it very helpful as a first step. Like it or not, pranayama is one of the eight limbs, so take the time to learn about it. I was speaking to myself on that last sentence 😉
I actually enjoyed this book very much, and if I sound surprised, it’s because I hate all things woo woo. #sorrynotsorry But, I begrudgingly admit that I found it inspiring and I felt lighter after reading it if that makes sense, in my person and in my practice. I think you will too and that’s why I put it on this list.