So have you decided to take up yoga? Naturally, you want some books that will help you understand this rich and ancient art form, but where to begin? As the popularity of yoga continues to skyrocket, hundreds of new titles are published each year.
Talking Yoga has curated eight essential titles to get you started, both time-tested and newly released:
8 Essential Yoga Books For Beginners
1. Light On Yoga
By B.K.S. Iyengar
This book will be your constant companion throughout a lifetime of practice. Iyengar, one of the primary founders of western yoga, demonstrates nearly every known yoga pose, breaks each one down in careful, step-by-step directions, outlines health benefits, and explains yoga terminology.
It’s as close to a comprehensive guide as possible. The photos themselves are a treasure: there’s such an honesty to the way his body and the poses interact, that you’ll learn simply by looking. You need this book, now and ten years from now!
2. Yoga: The Poetry Of The Body
By Rodney Yee With Nina Zolotow
Where exactly are your sitting bones? How does your sacrum interact with your tailbone? And what does poetry have to do with it? Rodney Yee’s love for the art of yoga illuminates this book from beginning to end. Part practical guide to essential poses and part conversational inquiry into Yee’s personal relationship with his art, Poetry of the Body glows with beauty and care.
Keep it close by; you’ll want to dip into it frequently for a regenerative charge.
3. Moving Towards Balance: 8 Weeks Of Yoga
By Rodney Yee With Nina Zolotow
Written just two years after Poetry of the Body, Moving Towards Balance is a different sort of book entirely. Here Yee, a master of detail, offers a comprehensive manual for pose construction and practice. He walks us through the basic poses with precise instructions and hundreds of careful photos, including excellent modifications for beginners. Every chapter includes daily sequences that you can easily do at home.
Perhaps you could build a yoga practice without this book, but why would you?
4. Ashtanga Yoga “The Practice Manual”
By David Swenson
Whether you want to learn the full Ashtanga vinyasa method, utilize suggested short sequences, or just get going with basic postures, this spiral bound bible will provide a thorough, modification friendly guide.
Each page is devoted to one posture, where Swenson, a master’s master who studied for decades with Sri K.Pattabhi Jois, demonstrates the pose and several alternatives, with a crisp instruction of alignment, breath, and Drishti (visual focal point.)
You will never outgrow this essential yoga classic – its tattered pages grace home and public studios around the world.
5. Beyond Power Yoga, 8 Levels Of Practice For Body And Soul
By Beryl Bender Birch
Beryl takes us on a magical mystery tour through the classical eight-limbed path in her unique down-to-earth style. And in each chapter she brilliantly matches a limb with a corresponding chakra, to illuminate the mind/body/energetic/spiritual/universal connection.
The book is an excellent home practice guide with in-depth instruction for asana, pranayama, pratyahara, concentration, and meditation methods.
You’ll even learn how physics factors into the cosmic-yogic equation. As Beryl is fond of saying, “saddle up!”
6. Perfectly Imperfect
By Baron Baptiste
Baron Baptiste has been on the yoga path for a long time and has been paying careful attention. In this, his sixth book, Baptiste reminds us that yoga is more than arranging the body into strange shapes, but is an inner journey. This slim and highly readable volume offers a thoughtful glimpse into the essence of that journey. It will help remind you of what really counts.
Favorite quote: “many ways, yoga is a practice not of building but uncovering. It is the ultimate excavation tool for the soul.”
7. Yoga For Life, A Journey To Inner Peace And Freedom
By Colleen Saidman Yee
An interesting and original hybrid, this is a moving autobiography that takes us through Colleen Saidman Yee’s sometimes rocky but always fascinating life. At the end of each chapter, she offers short yoga sequences designed for specific emotional and psychological effects drawn from the narratives she’s just shared with us.
You’ll devour this book for the story, and will come back to it over and over for the sequences.
8. The Heart of Yoga, Developing A Personal Practice
By T.K.V. Desikachar
Sadly, Desikachar passed away in August 2016 at the age of 76. He was the son of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, often called the “Father of Modern Yoga,” who lived to be 100, While Krishnamacharya famously taught all the modern yoga masters, including BKS Iyengar, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, it was his son Desikachar that studied at his side the longest.
The Heart of Yoga shares the wisdom of the son as learned from the father. This comprehensive guide covers asana, pranayama, yogic philosophy, and a full translation of The Yoga Sutra. We feel the spirit of Krishnamacharya shine through the teachings and inspirational historic photographs.
Favorite quote: “Anybody can breathe; therefore anybody can practice yoga … but it has to be the right yoga for the person.”