10 Books Every Yogi Should Read
Nowadays, YouTube and Instagram are flooded with yoga videos. While visuals have a lot of benefits, nothing pleases me more to talk about books.
Oh, I love books. Back in Canada, just like a cat lady, I had a room dedicated to books and reading books (I suppose one would call that a library). Once I moved to Indonesia, I realised very quickly how difficult it is to find books. Yes, places like Ubud and Changgu are filled with yoga boutique stores that stock books but it certainly does not compare to some of local book stores in other countries. It’s also difficult to preserve books in this humidity. So there we are. But I find most learnings come from other directly spending time with our teachers (i.e. asking questions over text message, meeting them for a tea, taking their workshops, etc.) or from reading books because reading books allow us to contemplate deeper than watching videos.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my top recommended books in no particular order:
- Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar – This was my first book I ever bought, recommended by my teacher. Desikachar was the son of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the Father of Hatha Yoga. This book is definitely a classic for anyone interested in delving deeper than physical part of yoga. For those of you who are looking for French translation, sadly, there isn’t. BUT there is a book by Desikachar that IS translated in French called “Le Yoga: Un Eveil spirituel” so I think it’s worth checking out.
- Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell – Funny story. In Bali, (and all over Indonesia) they like to watch Bollywood shows (they have very limited international shows), at around 3pm, I would drop off my laundry at the local laundromat lady and they’d all be fixed upon this soap opera show from India depicting Bhagavad Gita. At some point in your yoga path, you MUST read Bhagavad Gita. I like this translation but there are many more. It is truly the heart of yoga: why we practice what we practice.
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – I have two translations I recommend. One by Edwin F. Bryant or the other by Chip Hartranft. Bryant’s book is very thorough with commentary and translation of each word in Sanskrit along with historical contexts but it’s a heavier read. Hartraft’s book is much lighter and perfect for traveling. Translation is easier to understand but it does not go deep into the true meaning behind those words. The Yoga Sutras is the first book that explained HOW of yoga. It is a crucial read. I have seen French translations of this book as well and it is done very well.
- The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice by Georg Feurstein – Sorry, once again it’s in English but all yogis should have this book. It is a book that is completely comprehensive and explains so many topics around yoga and its history. I still refer to it almost every week.
- Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith – On the topic of Chakra, this book is something I refer to ALL OF THE TIME. For French version, I recommend “Les Chakras, roues de la vie” as this is the translation of another one of her great books, Wheel of Life.
- Yoga for a World Out of Balance by Michael Stone – In fact, read all of Michael’s books. He passed away a few years ago yet I still, very much, rely on his teachings. He was extremely skilled in communicating ancient teachings and make them relevant to modern days. His wife and his community continues their podcast called Awake in the World. I listen to them like I go to church once a week. I can honestly say that his teachings saved my life, quite literally. For French folks, there was a podcast from quite a few years ago about the talks he gave in Monaco and that had a translator in the room.
- Tree of Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar – A little light read but essential teachings. His other books “Light on Yoga” (classic!) and “Light on Pranayama” has been translated to French.
- Creativity by Osho – If you are teaching yoga or considering teaching, this light reading tells you what it truly means to teach with authenticity and deep seated confidence.
- Tantra Unveiled by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait – This is a book written by Pandit Ji, my teacher’s teacher’s teacher. This book explains what Tantra truly is, which was a practice in pre-vedic age that was meant for all human beings regardless of caste systems. It will tell you why I am returning more and more to traditional teachings once again.
- Yoga & Ayurveda by David Frawley – Ayurveda is essential in your practice and this is a great starting book before you go to see your Ayurvedic doctor.
Well, there you have it. I started this list by calling it 5 books. There’s a whole lot more and I’m sure I am forgetting essentials. But if you haven’t read these books, you definitely should.