The Top Five Yoga Books I Recommend

I love books! Books for me rank pretty close to food when it comes to priorities. I am typically reading a novel for entertainment, a spiritual book to help me continue to grow in this aspect of my life and practice, a book related to yoga therapy, and various books that inspire my teaching.

When I began practicing yoga I would devour the latest Yoga Journal magazine, trying various approaches to postures and learning bit by bit about other aspects of yoga. This was before I ever stepped foot into a yoga studio. So reading has always been an important part of my yoga path and a great way for me to learn and explore beyond yoga classes.

Often times I am asked after class by curious students about books to read to learn more about yoga. Before recommending something I usually ask what it is they are looking to learn. Below are five books that I recommend with a little bit about what to expect from each one.

This month I am kickstarting a new book club as part of the Whole Wellness Yoga Community. We will be spending the next three months slowly exploring the first book on this list, Yoga for Healthy Aging. From there, dependent on the interest in the community, we will select another book from this list and continue the exploration.

Please join us in book club or explore on your own!

1. Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Wellbeing by Baxter Bell, M.D. & Nina Zolotow

Out of all the books on my shelf, I chose this as the first book club read for Whole Soul for a couple of reasons. The authors of the book have been an inspiration to the teaching at Whole Soul, so if you are a current student the message it shares will likely be familiar and the book will provide more depth in understanding. I love the mix of current science and inclusion of some history of yoga and yoga philosophy. What I find extremely valuable and helpful is the appendix which includes pictures and descriptions of variations on what they term the essential yoga poses.

2. How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach

I can’t recall who recommended this book to me, but thank you! I love the approach the author used to teach about yoga philosophy, and specifically the yoga sutras, through story. The yoga sutras are often referred to in yoga classes and is one of the earliest writings on the philosophy of yoga. If you are interested in the real life application of the yoga sutras and enjoy a good story, I definitely recommend this one.

3. Yoga for Osteoporosis by Loren Fishman, M.D. & Ellen Saltonstall

Osteoporosis is one of the most common diagnoses that my students share with me, probably second only to arthritis. Even if you do not have a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia, this book can be an interesting read if you are into the science of how things work in your body, and want to know how to make sure you keep your bones as strong as possible. I also appreciate that the authors provide details on how to practice different variations of each posture safely and effectively.

4. Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat

This is a wonderful book that introduces you to the key teachings of Kripalu Yoga and provides a good overview of yoga in general. If you have lived in the northeast part of the United States you may be familiar with Kripalu Yoga and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts. If you live in other parts of the world Kripalu tends to be a lesser known yoga lineage or style. The Kripalu style is very much based on the principles of love and non-judgmental awareness. The teachings at Whole Soul are definitely highly influenced by Kripalu Yoga.

5. True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment by Jennie Lee

Last and certainly not least is this sweet little book which provides a super accessible look at some of the teachings from the yoga sutras, with specific focus on the yamas and niyamas, the first limb of yoga. The yamas and niyamas are often referred to as similar to the Ten Commandments, they are ways of interacting in the world and internally that we can practice in our day to day life. Jennie Lee makes these old teachings highly relevant and accessible with in our modern day lives.