Top 10 Yoga Books to Check Out

book-loveThere’s a slew of yoga books out there, but there are a few standouts that have been deeply helpful or influential to my yoga practice. This is my list of yoga books that you should read and keep on your bookshelf to thumb through again and again*:
10. Living Your Yoga, Judith Hanson Lasater
I’ve written before about this great book, which was my first introduction into the deeper aspects of yoga. It’s a terrific dive into the philosophical principles behind yoga, but written in a way that’s very accessible, tying applicable examples to everyday life.
9. Bhagavad Gita (I’ve linked to the translation I have, but there are numerous translations out there).
I first read this classic text of Indian Spirituality in a college class on religious traditions and then again in my first yoga teacher training. It’s a simple, but beautiful story that is full of parables. It’s a tale you can re-read in its entirety or just a section or two, and continue to get new nuggets of wisdom.
8. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness,Erich Schiffman
This one is a classic. Erich breaks down all aspects of yoga, from physical sequences to breathing to philosophy to what he considers the main practice: meditation. He has way of describing what can often be abstract concepts in a way that makes sense and gives you detailed practices for how you can begin with meditation and a physical practice of yoga.
7. Anatomy of Yoga, by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Beyond just anatomical terms, this book illustrates what muscles are at work in a variety of different yoga poses, so you are able to see how these muscles engage and interact in each pose.
6. The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, T. K. V. Desikachar
If you want a good overview of how different styles of yoga emerged in the West, this book explains the teachings of the author’s father and renowned yogi, Krishnamacharya, and how other elements of his teachings came to the West through other major yogis who were students of Krishnamacharya.
5. Yoga as Medicine, Timothy McCall
As an MD, McCall blends his Western medicine background with a holistic approach to health and how yoga can help with healing with a variety of conditions, from back problems to depression.
4. Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual, David Swenson
Not only is this book a fantastic introduction to ashtanga yoga, but it’s a very practical guide for learning many foundational poses in yoga. Each pose in the first and second series of ashtanga yoga is broken down to the components of its sanskrit name and instructions for each pose are illustrated with photos of the full version of each pose, as well as three modified stages of the pose. The book is spiral-bound so you can follow along from your mat as you practice.
3. Yoga for Pain Relief, Kelly McGonigal
Kelly is an amazing yoga teacher, psychologist, and Stanford University instructor. Her book is full of research about the mind/body connection with chronic pain and is full of meditation and movement exercises for relief from any kind of chronic pain.
2. Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, Claire Dederer
This is a compelling memoir of a young mother’s discovery and exploration of yoga through the challenges and issues in her own life. It’s told with a sense of humor, but also a deep respect for the power and support a yoga practice can provide.
1. Fierce Medicine, Ana Forrest
If you read no other yoga book, get this one. An inspiring, compelling story of Ana’s healing journey and her development of Forrest Yoga. It’s not just for reading though; this book is an experiential one, as Ana shares healing poses and guided processes that have helped her heal that you can use as tools in your own life.

*Note: I purposely omitted two big yoga philosophical texts: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Hatha Yoga Pradipka in favor of some books perhaps less widely known and not just philosophical in nature.

Got a favorite yoga book I missed? Add it to the comments!