I’ve been studying Yoga for about 40 years now, and have read dozens of books on the subject. I’ve even written a couple books myself! I thought I would share with you some of my favorites–books that I go back to again and again.
At the top of the pile is Autobiography of a Yogi, the first book on Yoga that I read back in the late 60’s. It’s the incredible story of Paramahansa Yogananda’s journey as a Yogi, full of mysteries, magic and fun. If you’ve never read anything about Yoga, this book is where to start.
The next book I think I read was Swami Satchidananda’s Beyond Words. I had met Les Alexander at a retreat in 1975. Les and I clicked right away and this is what he was working on at the time– compiling and editing the many talks Swamiji had given in the U.S. since arriving 10 years previously. Les called it “Swami’s greatest hits”!
Other books by Swami Satchidananda that I’ve included are To Know Yourself and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These 3 books will give you a well rounded introduction to Yoga philosophy and practice. Swamiji’s teachings are so accessible–he often said yoga was more about standing on your own 2 feet rather than standing on your head. The deep wisdom of Yoga is presented in easily digested, relatable stories and parables.
Admittedly, I am a disciple of Satchidananda and his lineage. His Guru was Master Sivananda from Rishikesh who wrote more than 100 books on the subject of Yoga. I didn’t have any copies of Swami Sivananda’s books handy, but I highly recommend them. One that comes to mind is Spiritual Stories. Sivananda was the Guru of my Guru–my Grandpa Guru if you will. Another of Sivananda’s devotees is Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga. His books, Asana Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha and Yoga Nidra are books I read again and again.
Russill Paul, author of The Yoga of Sound, instructs us in the use of chanting and mantras to move into the stillness of the True Self. Being a musician, I love chanting, and he offers explanations on the ancient Vedic chants and how they can affect us. He is a great Bhakti Yogi, the yoga of devotion.
James Hewitt writes in great detail about the postures, but also explains pranayama and meditation techniques, the meaning of the chakras, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga–the Yoga of action–and even the Yoga of sex!. The book I recommend is The Complete Yoga Book, and it is chock full of information–a valuable tool for Yoga teachers as well as students.
As a singer and a swimmer, I’ve always been acutely aware of my breathing. A great book on the art of pranayama, the Yogic breathing practices, is Donna Farhi’s The Breathing Book.
If you’re interested in meditation, read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. He really helps us understand the tricky strategies of the mind that move us out of our peace and into mental chatter, and more importantly, how to cope with the mind.
I would be remiss if I neglected to recommend my own book, Big Yoga: A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies. It was a work of a lifetime of learning and practicing Yoga, and I use it in my own classes when I need to refresh my mind on a certain point about a pose or a technique. Big Yoga has it all–asana, pranayama, meditation, a little history of Yoga, and guided relaxation. I hope you’ll enjoy reading all these books to deepen your understanding of the ancient art and science of Yoga. Go to Integral Yoga Distribution to order any of these books, and tell them Meera sent you!