My 9 Favourite Inspirational Yoga Books

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

I always say that when you look for a book on a particular topic, just go to your library or a bookshop and see which book speaks to you. But with libraries and bookshops still closed (in the UK), and Easter on the doorstep, here are some suggestions for books on yoga.

On the history of yoga

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton

Academic yet still digestible. Drawing on a wealth of research on ancient yoga texts, this book explains how yoga has developed throughout time, dispels many new age myths about the practice, and shows how yoga has taken on a life of it's own in different parts of the world.

On yoga poses

Hatha Yoga Illustrated by Martin L Kirk and Brooke Boon This is the very first yoga book I bought. It's quite old and well-thumbed now but I still refer to it. 77 common poses are presented comprehensively, with beautiful photographs, concise instructions, variations, and a selection of yoga sequences. All you need to look up basic information about a pose.

On teaching yoga

The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar This book has greatly influenced me as a teacher and shaped my approach to teach a personalised, permissive style of yoga. It covers a wide range of topics from postures to conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy. Highly commended even if you are not a yoga teacher.

On 'your kind of' yoga

Awakening the Spine: Yoga for Health, Vitality and Energy by Vanda Scaravelli Again, this book has hugely influenced me. It is not a 'how to' manual but a very personal exploration of the practice of yoga by by a leading female yoga teacher. It is an amazing book for those who look for inspiration and those who want to deepen their awareness of themselves.

On Yin Yoga

Insight Yoga: An Innovative Synthesis of Traditional Yoga, Meditation, and Eastern Approaches to Healing and Well-Being by Sarah Powers If you are interested in an introduction to the Chinese meridian system and how it relates to Yin Yoga, this book will give you a good overview. Its well-structured and offers many opportunities to reflect on how you practice yoga (Yin or not).

On yoga and life

Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S. Iyengar Iyengar was arguably the most influential yoga teacher ever in bringing yoga to the West. His book Light on Yoga has become THE reference for yoga poses, while Light on Life explores the philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga. It's a never ending source of food for thought.

Off the beaten track

The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight by Lorin Roche Ok, this is a perhaps rather specialist text written at about 850 CE, but I love it because its language and spirit are simply beautiful. I use it a lot in my Yin classes. It is at once a love song to life and an encyclopedia of 112 tantric teachings, along with guidance in how to embody and practice them.

On anatomy

Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews If you ever wondered how your muscles work and stretch in different yoga postures, this illustrated guide with full-colour anatomical illustrations will tell you. It's essential reading in most yoga teacher training courses.

On meditation

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thitch Nhat Hanh This is a classic by famous Zen master Thitch Nhat Hanh, bringing mindfulness and meditation to everyday activities. If you are interested in mindful meditation also look out for books by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Strong or soft, wild ore serene - wherever breath flows, there is song. (Vijnana Bhairava Tantra)

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