Yoga is not just a way to achieve physical fitness. It is much more than that as it also results in overall health and disease prevention along with sound mental health and stress relief. But even more than that, yoga is a way of life and a philosophy to guide your whole life. Most people start doing yoga as a way to get fit or lose weight but soon it permeates to every part of their life. To understand yoga and practice it wholly takes a lifetime but you always have to begin with the first step. If you are a beginner, you should consider these 7 great books to begin with.
7. The Breathing Book: Author: Donna Farhi
Pranayama is an important part of yoga and is not just a way to control your breathing as some people believe. It is a way to control the life force or prana that exists within all living things. The Breathing Book is a good guide for learning all about pranayama and it is written by Donna Farhi who is a famous yoga writer. This book will teach you how to incorporate correct breathing habits into your daily life.
6. The Bhagavad Gita Translation and Commentary: Author: Swami Satchidanand
Getting into yoga without getting into Vedic philosophy is impossible. The Bhagavad Gita
is the essence of the Vedic philosophy but the original text is not easy to understand. There have been many translations and commentaries written by different gurus. The one by Swami Satchidanand is an easy to understand book for beginners. The writing will make sense to modern readers and they can relate it to their lives.
5. Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses: Author: Dharma Mittra
Dharma Mittra is a great practitioner of yoga. He has devoted his whole life to the practice of yoga and this book is a great one to have to learn different poses and the benefits of each pose. It is also an inspirational book that will drive you to get better at the beginners poses and move on to the more advanced poses. The book also talks about chakras and certain health issues.
4. Yoga The Iyengar Way: Author: Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta
This is a great companion book to the book ranked at number one on this list; Light on Yoga. It acts as a reference to that book and covers key poses in more detail. It is a must have book for beginners in yoga to get the alignment points right and to make sense of the encyclopedia of poses that is Light on Yoga.
3. Awakening The Spine: Author: Vanda Scaravelli
This is a great book to understand yoga in more depth. It is written by Vanda Scaravelli who was a student of Mr. Iyengar. She taught yoga well into her 80’s and practiced it herself all her life. This book deals with the philosophy of yoga, the practical explanations of the poses and also has a section on pranayama. It is a classic yoga book and every beginner should buy one as it will instruct and motivate and light the fire of yoga in your heart. It is also unique because it is written by a women and gives a different point of view towards yoga.
2. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice Author: T.K.V. Desikachar
T.K.V. Desikachar is a world famous yoga practitioner and teacher. Although it is said that you can never master yoga but only practice it all your life, he is one of those few people who come close to being a master. His book is mandatory for all beginners in yoga. It will be a book that you’ll refer back to through out your life. It talks about physical, mental and spiritual practices for the spine. It discusses the philosophy and also teaches how to practice yoga in its fullest form. It also includes a translation and commentary on Yoga Sutra.
1. Light on Yoga: Author: B.K.S. Iyengar
This is the encyclopedia that I was talking about earlier. It contains hundreds of illustrations of yoga poses and breathing techniques. It was published in 1966 and is now considered the gold standard in yoga books. Iyengar began teaching yoga at the age of 17! He focuses most on correct alignment and precision. It is an important book to get the basics right to build on top of; a must have for any yoga beginner.