15 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis)

10 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis)
10 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis)
Home » Best yoga books » 15 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis)

Wondering what the best yoga books are? As a yoga teacher, avid reader, and scientist, I carried out a survey asking yoga practitioners about the best yoga books they would recommend.

15 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis)

I collected their answers and so here are the 15 books that were cited the most:

1. ‘Heart of Yoga’ by T. K. V. Desikachar 

After reading Heart of yoga it was easy to see why it came in first place in my survey. This book really does offer it all. T. K. V. Desikachar has a down-to-earth way of explaining key concepts and seems to have a refreshingly open-minded approach to yoga

The author is T. K. V. Desikachar who is the son of Krishnamacharya. If you’re not familiar with the history of modern yoga, Krishnamacharya was the teacher of some very influential yoga teachers, such as B.K.S Iyengar (who developed Iyengar yoga) and Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois (who developed Ahstanga yoga). And so T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father and went on to teach the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya’s yoga.

The Heart of yoga is divided into four parts. The first two parts form the core of the book. The first part introduces yoga and explains more about asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), and bandha (energy locks). The second part discusses the philosophical aspect of yoga, and how we can bring these concepts into our lives. The third part is Desikachar’s translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as well as some commentary. Finally, part four is called the Yoganjalisaram, which is a poem that explains the teachings of yoga and offers a compact idea of Krishnamacharya’s teachings.

Favorite quote: “Whenever you are in doubt, it is best to pause. Few things are so pressing that they cannot wait for a moment of breath“.

One survey respondent said: “Comprehensive, readable, practicable, applicable and gives a real look into what yoga truly is.”

What other surveyed responded said: “Really good reading on practice, philosophy and wonderful pictures of Krishnamacharya practicing asana/pranayama as an older person, family pictures too. “

2. ‘Light on Yoga‘ by B.K.S. Iyengar

Light on Yoga can easily be considered a yoga bible. Over 400 pages with over 600 images are there to break down an incredible 200 yoga poses.

B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the most important yoga teachers. He was a student of Krishnamacharya and went on to create Iyengar yoga. He has written several best-selling yoga books (Book number 9 in this list is also by B.K.S. Iyengar), and this one mainly focuses on yoga poses.

What makes this book invaluable is that for each yoga pose, we are given detailed images, an explanation of the technique, as well as the effects of each pose.

Favorite quote: “Breath is the king of mind“.

One survey respondent said: “I just keep going back to it and using it over and over and over and I have since I first got it in 1993.”

What other surveyed responded said: “Really the only book on Yoga you will ever need because it is so thorough.”

3. ‘The Bhagavad Gita‘ by Eknath Easwaran

The Bhagavad Gita is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s literary and spiritual masterpieces. With over 200 English translations, this particular translation is a number 1 best seller on Amazon in the category ‘Hundy Theology’.

Eknath Easwaran is one of the 20th-century great spiritual teachers. He has translated other Indian spiritual classics which are also now bestsellers.

What I really liked about this book is that the first 55 pages offer an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita and present key concepts and ideas almost paving the way for the rest of the book. Following that, each chapter presents an explanation and then his translation of the text.

I think that this book is a must-read for anyone interested in yoga philosophy. This translation n particular was easy to follow.

Favorite quote: “Seek refuge in the attitude of detachment and you will amass the wealth of spiritual awareness. Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do“.

One survey respondent said: “Because it is a primary yoga shāstra {traditional text on yoga} that, when understood can transform your whole life into yoga.”

What other surveyed responded said: “The Gita, as an audiobook. It was an experience to listen to it…. Very different from reading… the sound of the shells…. The cadency of the words… Closing the eyes, and just feel the harmony of the verses coming to my heart!!!! It changed my life!!!”

4. ‘Ashtanga Yoga‘ by David Swenson

Ashtanga Yoga- The Practice Manual is actually my very first yoga book! And I will say this is an invaluable book to any ashtanga yoga practitioner.

David Swenson has been practicing yoga since 1969 and is considered an authority in the ashtanga yoga world. I even had the luck of practicing with him in a workshop a few years ago. He’s a wonderfully charismatic teacher and I would love to have the chance to practice with him again.

Regarding Ashtanga Yoga- The Practice Manual, not only is it spiral bound meaning it will last for ages, but also each pose is broken down into steps and you get very clear and easy-to-understand images of each pose along with variations for beginners. There’s also extra information and comments provided.

One survey respondent said: “Swenson’s book was my next purchase (when I started Ashtanga) and it is the only Ashtanga book I go back to for everything!!”

5. ‘The Yamas and Niyamas‘ by Deborah Adele

The Yamas and Niyamas sheds light on the foundation of our yoga practice. This book explores the ‘moral codes’ of our yoga practice that can be considered a guide to help us be more mindful in our lives.

Deborah Adele has a master’s in Theology and Religious studies and is also a yoga teacher. This almost pocket-sized book offers an explanation and story of each of the 10 yamas and niyamas.

At the end of each chapter, there is even little homework for anyone who wants to put it into practice.

I will say that this is one of those books that I would recommend to anyone who practices yoga. Especially those who want to explore yoga beyond the mat.

It’s easy to read and the author’s personal stories are interwoven throughout, making it easy to see each yama and niyama in practice.

Favorite quote: “Gaining the skill to choose our attitude, to choose what we think, and to choose what we do, may be the grandest adventure we can take as a human being”.

One survey respondent said: “Honestly, it’s The Yamas & the Niyamas by Deborah Adele for its simplicity. I recommend it as a “jumping off” point for all of my students looking to start an exploration of yoga philosophy.”

What other surveyed responded said: “It’s so concise and packed with so much good information! I’m using it this year to learn them. Love the audiobook.”

6. ‘Autobiography of a yogi‘ by Paramahansa Yogananda

Autobiography of a yogi is one of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century and is apparently the only ebook found on Steve Job’s iPad.

I read this book a few years ago while on holiday and remember I couldn’t put it down! Its the story of Paramahansa Yogananda and he walks us through his childhood, his encounters with saints and sages, as well as his years of training, and finally the 30 years he lived and taught in the US.

this really is a wonderful book to read, with stories that are unlike any we are taught in the WEst. It may even help broaden your horizons, especially if we are used to a more science-based approach to life.

Favorite quote: “Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations”.

One survey respondent said: “Just inspirational!”

7. ‘Yoga Myths‘ by Judith Hanson Lasater

In Yoga Myths, we learn about the common myths we are told (or tell) in a yoga class and find out why they may lead to injury. Plus, we are then shown how to modify and adapt our practice.

Judith Hanson Lasater has been teaching yoga since 1971 and has a Ph.D. in psychology. She’s also the author of another book I love, ‘Relax and Renew’ which is a great book for anyone interested in restorative yoga.

The blurb of this book says it all: “What you need to LEARN AND UNLEARN for a safe and healthy practice”.

In 11 chapters we learn about the most common yoga myths still being taught today. I will say that this is one of those yoga books that I read as a yoga teacher and kept on thinking: “ok, what else do I need to change in my teaching?!”

This book is easy to read and has a wide variety of images that help the reader understand exactly what is being discussed. If I were to be asked about what stood out the most, it would have to be what we use blankets under our shoulders in shoulder stand.

Favorite quote: “Always practice with attention to today’s body, not yesterday’s”.

One survey respondent said: “Dismantling some still used cues and movements i.e. neck rolls, rolling the vertebral column “one vertebra at the time” from standing forward fold to Mountain Pose, external rotation of humerus in Downward Dog and reframing functional movement. That being said she is my mentor and I recommend all her books.”

8. ‘How yoga works‘ by Geshe Michael Roach

In How Yoga Works, the Yoga Sutras are interwoven beautifully within a story.

The author, Geshe Michael Roach, is a graduate of Princeton University and is apparently the first Westerner to be awarded a master of Buddhism by the Sera May Thibetan Monastery.

The story begins with our main character, a girl called Yogi. Yogi travels to India to find her next teacher. The complication is that an ancient book was with her. And so she is imprisoned in a local jail until she can prove she is the rightful owner of this ancient book.

And so through this beautiful story, we begin to learn about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. What a beautiful way to understand more about yoga!

Favorite quote: “It doesn’t matter that we are inside a jail. Everyone is inside a jail. We need to get out of the bigger jail, this entire life, this life that always leads to death and ruin”.

One survey respondent said: “I always recommend it to my students, as it is an easily comprehensible story based on the sutras, showing how yoga changes your life.”

What other surveyed responded said: “I love “How Yoga Works” By Geshe Michael Roach, because unlike other yoga books I actually enjoyed reading it. It is a fictional story with the message that for yoga to work, you have to do it for other people. It introduces some key sutras in very simple language and upon researching, I concluded that Michael understands their meaning well.”

9. ‘Light on life‘ by B.K.S. Iyengar

Light on Life can easily be considered as one of yoga’s ‘must read’ books. Moving on from yoga as a physical practice, this book also explores the internal and external obstacles we may be dealing with in our lives as well as how yoga can ultimately transform our lives.

B.K.S. Iyengar is considered one of the most important yoga teachers. He was a student of Krishnamacharya and went on to create Iyengar yoga.

Adding many stories from his personal life, Iyengar covers a wide range of topics over 7 chapters explaining how yoga can permeate every area of life for the better.

What not to love when you get to read the thoughts and experiences of such an inspirational teacher! For anyone looking for a better understanding of what yoga is beyond the poses, you’ll want to check out this book.

Favorite quote: “This process of relaxing the brain is achieved through asana. We generally think of the mind as being in our head. In asana our consciousness spreads throughout the body, eventually diffusing every cell, creating a complete awareness. In this way, stressful thought is drained away, and our mind focuses on the body, intelligence, and awareness as a whole.”.

One survey respondent said: “I also listened to on audio books during my YTT. I loved it and I would love to reread it as I get a lot out of listening and then reading.”

10. ‘Your body your yoga‘ by Bernie Clark

Your Body Your Yoga is an anatomy book that goes a step further. It tries to explain why some people can easily do certain poses while others can’t. And it does this by trying to answer the million-dollar question: ‘What stops me?’

Bernie Clark is perhaps more well known for his book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, which is considered to be a bible of Yin Yoga. According to his bio, he has a degree in science and has been teaching yoga since the 90s. He has another similar book called Your Spine Your Yoga.

Your Body Your Yoga is split into 2 parts. Part 1 explores the question “What Stops Me?”. We learn all about tension and compression, muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and joints. We also learn how these shape and influence our range of movement. Part 2 then applies what we now know to the lower body.

I really think this is a must-read for all yoga teachers. We are not all unique, not all bodies can do similar things and this is vital all teachers have an understanding of how to correctly and safely guide their students in and out of poses in a way that respects their anatomy and potential limitations.

Favorite quote: “We are unique. That is nothing new, but the implications of this short statement are vast. You are unique and therefore what works for you, what suits your body will be different from what works for other people”.

One survey respondent said: ” I love how he discusses how everyone’s body is different and we can’t all look the same in a pose or even perform each pose the same”

Best Yoga Books 11-15

As an extra bonus, I have also provided the best books from position 11 to 15 from my survey. I have not read these books yet, and so I am providing what a survey respondent mentioned when choosing this book.

Best yoga booksSurvey respondent feedback
11. The secret power of yoga by Nichala Joy Devi“Most Yoga Sutra books are written by men. This book is written by a woman and delivers much insight into the heart of the yoga sutras from a female perspective”.
12. The Sivananda companion to yoga“I bought the Sivananda Companion to yoga when I was starting out with my practice in the early 90s. It’s been a great resource over the years”.
13. The path of the yoga sutras by Nicolia Bachman“Also very concise and easy to read/understand”.
14. Young yogi and the mind monsters by Sonja Radvila“My recent favourite is « Young Yogi and the Mind Monsters » written by Sonja Radvila, just because it is a gift for planting the seed. A wonderful life related story to explain the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali in a playful way everyone would understand. For me this book is one of the most interesting and valuable ideas, a great tool for today and for the future of Yoga”.
15. One simple thing by Eddie stern“Straightforward but still touches upon deeper philosophical questions”.
Best yoga books 11-15

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