My yoga book collection has exploded ever since I started teaching yoga. I very quickly came to realize that my teacher training just scratched the surface. And so this article is my guide to the best yoga books for teachers.
As a yoga teacher, there are so many aspects and avenues you can pursue in terms of knowledge and digging deeper. Some teachers like to focus on anatomy, others on philosophy, others on ethics, and social justice. There really is something for everyone depending on what your interests are.
Speaking from experience here, it is very easy to get lost trying to know everything there is about everything. And so what may help, is having an overview of the main topics to focus on as a yoga teacher and then exploring some recommended books on each topic.
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These books are divided into 8 main categories:
- Yoga Philosophy
- Yoga History
- Personal Growth
- Spiritual Practice
- Personal Practice
- Practice Specific
- Business Side of teaching yoga
Listed below are my 30 best yoga books to help yoga instructors in their own practice and in their yoga classes. Whether you are a new or experienced yoga teacher, there is something for everyone.
Best Yoga Books for Teachers on Yoga Philosophy
Roots of Yoga
Roots of Yoga is an invaluable resource for yoga teachers and also for experienced practitioners.
It brings together the core teachings of yoga, such as key passages from the Upanishads, the Buddhist and Jaina traditions as well as the yoga sections of the Indian Tantras.
And so if you are looking for a book to help you explore the rich history and philosophy of yoga, then this may be ideal for you.
The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali
The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali by Swami Vivekananda covers the various aphorisms of Patanjali in detail.
What makes this book special is that it was written by Swami Vivekananda. He was part of a key moment in modern yoga history that was actually a turning point for yoga in the West. It is considered that this talk is what brought yoga to the USA.
More specifically, Swami Vivekananda was invited to speak at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. He discussed yoga, mentioned the Bhagavad Gita (one of the most important texts in yoga), further discussed the universality of the world’s religions, and managed to impress the attendees of his lectures.
The Yoga Sutras come in many translations and are considered to be the most essential yoga books for anyone interested in yoga beyond the mat.
The Yamas & Niyamas
The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele is the ideal book for anyone wanting to explore yoga philosophy, with a deeper focus on the Yamas and the Niyamas.
Written in a way that makes it easy to follow and relatable to modern everyday life, this book discusses the first two limbs of the 8 fold path of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas are the guidelines for the yoga way of living and so this book will help you relate the yoga way of life to your life.
And so this is a great book for anyone interested in yoga’s ethical practice.
It has also been translated into Spanish.
Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar has been described as the bible of yoga. This book is very informative and easy to read and is ideal for any yoga teacher looking to discover yoga philosophy.
It was written by BKS Iyengar and offers a translation of each of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. BKS Iyengar then goes on to provide his own explanation of each yoga sutra making their meaning more accessible.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
What makes Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Translation with Notes from Krishnamacharya special is that not only is it a translation of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (one of the most well-known texts on physical yoga), but it also has unique perspectives by Krishnamacharya, known as the father of modern yoga.
Krishnamacharya is regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is considered to have contributed to the revival of Hatha yoga.
If you would like to find out more about Krishnamacharya, you may find my article interesting: How Old Is Yoga? (A Brief History Plus a Timeline of Key Events)
Important Books on Yoga History
Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Practice
Yoga Body by Mark Singleton is a fairly new book that argues that postural yoga which is very popular around the world doesn’t have much of a connection to the ancient Indian tradition. Instead, he argues that the form of yoga that is practiced by millions around the world is actually more closely associated with European bodybuilding and women’s gymnastics.
This interesting and controversial book is recommended for any yoga teacher who wants to understand how yoga became so popular and explore the origins of postural yoga.
The Yoga Tradition: It’s History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice
The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein offers a comprehensive view of the panorama of yoga and its rich history spanning around 5000 years. This book was written by yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein who dedicated his life to the understanding and practice of yoga.
In this book, you will find a very detailed overview of every yogic tradition. It also covers the history, philosophy, and psychology of yoga, with an analysis of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina Yoga.
Beautiful Books on Personal Growth
Autobiography of a Yogi
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda is highly recommended for all yoga teachers and also yoga practitioners.
An interesting fact is that apparently, this was the only book Steve Jobs downloaded on his iPad. He went back and reread it once every year.
This book presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time, Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda takes us on his life’s journey, from his remarkable childhood to encounters with saints to his training to become a yoga teacher to how he then started teaching in America.
I will admit that this was one of my favorite books to read.
Best Yoga Books For The Mind
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body
Every Body Yoga was written by Jessamyn Stanley and is here to break all stereotypes. This book is a valuable asset to yoga teachers, as a common question you may have been asked is: “Can someone overweight do yoga?”
In my years of teaching, I have been asked this question several times, and so this book is a wonderful resource and a reminder that yoga and be taught to and practiced by people of all shapes and sizes.
This book also includes directions to 50 basic yoga poses and 10 sequences to practice at home, something that may be useful, especially to newer yoga teachers.
Eastern Body Western Mind
Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith merges the East and West, science and philosophy, and psychology and spirituality. Each chapter of this book focuses on a specific chakra.
It starts off with a description of its characteristics and then explores its childhood developmental patterns, any possible traumas, and abuses, and then goes on to explain how we can then to heal and maintain balance.
Using the chakra system as a map, our Western understanding of individual development is charted and explained.
Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World
Skill in Action by Michelle Cassandra Johnson is a book that could be used as a means to blend social justice work with the practice of yoga.
It defines privilege, oppression, and suffering and then includes short practices at the end of each chapter. These practices include breathwork, asana, meditation, and interpersonal work and are there to help put the wisdom of this book in action.
This is a must-have for all yoga practitioners and yoga teachers, especially those who want to work on making a more inclusive, welcoming, and safe teaching environment.
Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma
Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma is also written by Michelle Cassandra Johnson.
This book is beautifully written and can be seen as a guide to help explore and examine our racial biases. Additionally, it is also a practical book on yoga, with an emphasis on Restorative yoga which helps down-regulate our stress response. Particularly important given the growing problems society is facing these days.
This book is a wonderful resource for yoga teachers as it helps guide us to feel and listen and through this, exist in the world as empathetic beings.
Best Anatomy Books
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Any Matthews is considered ‘the best-selling anatomy guide for yoga’ as is an invaluable book for yoga teachers who want to deepen their understanding of yoga anatomy.
It provides an in-depth and detailed guide on asanas through full-color anatomical illustrations.
From breathing to inversions to seated asanas, this book shows how specific muscles respond to the movements of the joints, how modifications to a pose can enhance or reduce effectiveness, and how the spine, breathing, and body alignment are all connected.
Functional Anatomy of Yoga
David Keil is considered an authority on the subject of anatomy in the Ashtanga yoga world. In Functional Anatomy of Yoga David Keil explains the anatomical structure and function of the body in yoga.
The book is very clearly written and structured and presents beautifully illustrated photographs to clearly explain the concepts and asanas. This book is invaluable for both yoga teachers and yoga practitioners looking for a deeper anatomical understanding of their practice.
Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists
Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers is a book that explores anatomy in a more holistic manner. It focuses on the anatomy and function of the fascial system in the body.
And so this book is valuable to yoga teachers who want to know more about how our posture and pain patterns can be affected by our connective tissue.
This book presents scientific and rather complicated information in a clear and easily understood manner.
Your Spine, Your Yoga
Your Spine, Your Yoga by Bernie Clark looks at the spine from both the Western anatomical/biomechanical point of view and the modern yoga perspective.
Staring from the pelvis all the way up the spine to the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical complex, each part is examined. More specifically, this book discusses bones, joints, ligaments, fascia, tendons, muscles, and even the neurological and blood systems.
Through this, variations and limitations are examined and discussed, thus making this book invaluable for yoga teachers.
Essential Yoga Books For Practice
The Heart of Yoga
The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar is the first yoga book with a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to Viniyoga, a type of yoga adapted to the needs of the individual.
What makes this book special is that it was written by TKV Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya. The latest edition of the book also contains 32 poems by Krishnamacharya which help capture the essence of his teachings.
This book discusses yoga poses conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy and shows how the practice can be tailored regardless of age, occupation, and lifestyle.
Bringing Yoga to Life
Bringing yoga to life by Donna Fahri moves beyond using yoga as a physical practice and a means for stress management. Using Patanjali’s yoga sutras as a foundation, this book then explains the life-changing power of yoga.
It is a great book for yoga teachers as her teachings on yoga philosophy explore aspects of daily life, and this can then be used in classes, for those wanting to take the physical practice a step further.
Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques
Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens is a book specifically geared towards yoga teachers. Indeed, it covers a wide spectrum of topics, perfect for any teacher or practitioner looking to deepen their yoga knowledge.
And so this book discusses yoga history and philosophy, the yoga sutras, it discusses the most common types of yoga practiced today along with a brief history or each. It is no wonder this book is taught on yoga teacher training courses.
Yoga as Medicine
Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall could be considered to be the definitive book of yoga therapy.
This book is an invaluable tool for yoga teachers interested in the therapeutic aspects of yoga.
It covers the history and science of yoga, it explains how yoga can be used as a therapy, and how it can be tailored to everyone’s needs. This included the use of yoga postures, breathing, and meditation as a means to heal from illnesses and injuries.
Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses
Teaching yoga beyond the poses by Sage Rountree and Alexandra DeSiato is a wonderful book for teachers who want to move beyond simply teaching poses, and instead, creating themes for classes.
They argue the use of themes: “Yoga nourishes the body and the soul: good theming makes that possible. When your students come to a yoga class, they want to learn something, they want to feel better, and they also expect to learn something”.
And so this book will help yoga teachers looking for ways to add more themes and philosophy to their classes.
Yoga Therapy: Foundations, Methods, and Practices for Common Ailments
Yoga Therapy by Mark Stephens is a great book for all yoga teachers as it may help us make our classes more accessible for all.
More specifically, it teaches us how to adapt yoga practices to accommodate and heal a wide range of injuries and illnesses. And all this using the most recent evidence-based practices.
Practice Specific Yoga Books
The Power of Ashtanga Yoga
The Power Of Ashtanga Yoga by Kino McGreggor is rather special as it takes us from the Ashtanga yoga history to the yoga diet and the Ashtanga yoga method. It is perfect for any Ashtanga yoga teacher as each pose in the Ashtanga yoga primary series is explained in a very clear and detailed analysis, followed by a display of the benefits of each pose. This was actually the first book for Ashtanga yoga I ever bought.
Mastering Vinyasa Yoga: The Yoga Synthesis Guide to Dynamic Sequencing with Hundreds of Photos and Instructions
Mastering Vinyasa Yoga is a great book for Vinyasa yoga teachers as Raji Thron shows yoga poses through photos and descriptions and explains how to do each pose. This type of information is invaluable, especially for newer yoga teachers.
The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga
What makes the Complete Guide To Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark stand out is that yin yoga is explained, as well as the benefits. It is a valuable book for yin yoga teachers as through very clear photos, 30 yin yoga poses are shown, along with explanations of how to practice each pose and their benefits.
B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health
The Path To Holistic Health was written by B.K.S. Iyengar himself. This book is perfect for Iyengar yoga teachers as it includes Iyengar’s philosophy of the practice as well as step-by-step instructions and illustrations of over 55 yoga poses.
Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times
Relax And Renew by Judith Lasater is ideal for Restorative yoga teachers. Through photos and clear text, it explains the physical postures and breathing techniques used in restorative yoga.
Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby: Ayurveda and Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth
Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby by Margo Shapiro Bachman is a wonderful book for prenatal and postal yoga teachers. It is extremely helpful as it covers month-to-month exercises, with tips to encourage natural labor and it also gives advice on staying healthy and happy if the first weeks after giving birth.
Yoga Books For the Business Side of Teaching Yoga
The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga
The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith are here to fill the gap that most yoga teacher training courses don’t cover.. The business side of yoga. Whether we like it or not, it is now your full-time job, it is a business and as such we must start to treat it as one.
This book offers some very practice advice on how to have a successful yoga career. More specifically, some of the topics it covers are how to build a loyal; student base, how to maintain a marketing plan, and how to use social media effectively.
The Thriving Yoga Teacher
The Thriving Yoga Teacher by Michelle Linane offers a “blueprint to creating the fulfilling yoga career you always dreamed of”.
What makes it more inspiring is that also has stories from yoga teachers, thus offering real and practice advice on how to create the yoga businesses and careers you have always dreamed of.