The best books that are essential to the study of yoga

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by yoga and the wonderful stories about yogis. When I was in the fourth grade, studying the subject of 'India', I taught myself to stand on my head and fold my legs in the lotus position. I love practicing yoga – every morning, I thank the Gurus and teachers from whom I learned! I've taught yoga for almost 40 years now and strongly believe that the practice and teaching of yoga, done with devotion and love can transform one's life for the good. I wrote 7 books about yoga (the last, Yoga in Nature is forthcoming) I regularly write articles on yoga and have translated two of B.K.S. Iyengar's books into Hebrew.

I wrote...

The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

By Eyal Shifroni,

Book cover of The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

What is my book about?

A practical guide for improving and enriching your practice of Iyengar Yoga using a chair. The Extended Chair for Yoga is an extended version of the popular A Chair for Yoga. It includes twice the number of variations (the variations from the original book are included).

The book includes more than 600 photos, illustrating how to perform each variation. The level of difficulty and benefits are indicated for each variation. It can benefit both yoga practitioners and yoga teachers. Those who studied A Chair for Yoga will find here a trove of new ideas for hours of enjoyable yoga practice and exploration of the asanas!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga...

Why did I love this book?

I first met my Guru, B.K.S Iyengar, in 1988; since then, I kept coming back to his center in Pune, India, every other year for a month of study, until his passing away in 2014. Light on Yoga is ever a source of inspiration for me. I come back to it almost daily when I am on my yoga mat, I read and study the instruction given by Iyengar while trying to perform the asanas shown in the photos. B.K.S Iyengar is a renowned teacher and Guru. Light on Yoga, which came out in the '60s, soon became 'the bible of yoga.' It contains photos of Iyengar demonstrating the asanas (yoga postures) with amazing precision and clarity. 

By B.K.S. Iyengar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light on Yoga as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga--the ancient healing discipline for body and mind--by its greatest living teacher. Light on Yoga provides complete descriptions and illustrations of all the positions and breathing exercises. Features a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin. Illustrations throughout.

The Tree of Yoga

By B.K.S. Iyengar,

Book cover of The Tree of Yoga

Why did I love this book?

This book inspires me so much that I translated it to Hebrew (my own native tongue) to make it available for Hebrew readers. Iyengar uses the metaphor of a tree to explain the eight-limbed (ashtanga) yoga of Patanjali. I like this book so much because Iyengar uses simple words to explain the deep concepts of yoga philosophy. He brings many examples and stories that illustrate his ideas in a very lively manner. The main theme of the book is that all of the 8 limbs of yoga (ethics, self-restraint, postures, breath control, control of the senses, concentration, meditation & Samadhi) can be achieved by the dedicated and zealous practice of the 3rd and 4th limbs, namely asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath control).

By B.K.S. Iyengar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tree of Yoga as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Iyengar developed a form of yoga that focuses on developing strength, endurance, correct body alignment, as well as flexibility and relaxation. The Iyengar method integrates philosophy, spirituality, and the practice of yoga into everyday living. In The Tree of Yoga, Iyengar offers his thoughts on many practical and philosophical subjects including family life, love and sexuality, health and the healing arts, meditation, death, and Patañjali's Yoga Sutras. This new edition features a foreword by Patricia Walden, a leading American teacher of the Iyengar style.

Book cover of The Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide

Why did I love this book?

Ravindra's book provides a concise commentary on the Yoga Sutras, which were written about 2,000 years back. In his commentary, he draws from many spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, and the work of Krishnamurti. Thus, he makes the yoga sutras relevant to our contemporary life, puts them in a wide context, and shows their universality. His translation and interpretation touch on issues that pertain to any human being who is curious about the great mystery of existence.  

By Ravi Ravindra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paperback version of the hardcover "Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras" published in 2009 by Morning Light Press.

Book cover of Under the Banyan Tree: Overcoming Fear and Sorrow

Why did I love this book?

Tich Nhat Hana is a Vietnamese monk and a peace and social activist. His writings reflect beautifully his gentle, kind, and compassionate personality. He wrote more than a hundred books, so choosing one to recommend was difficult. However, Under the Banyan Tree especially appeals to me, since while reading it you can almost hear Tich Nhat Hana's voice talking to you, explaining in simple words the deep insight of Buddhism. I was so inspired by his books and Web-teachings, that I went to study with him in Plum Village – the center he built in France. 

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Banyan Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Under the Banyan Tree: Overcoming Fear and Sorrow

Book cover of In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying

Why did I love this book?

This is an extraordinary journey book of a yogi who was identified at a very young age as a Tulku - reincarnate custodian of a specific lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Mingyur Rinpoche was taken at a very young age to a monastery to receive a Buddhist education. Since his childhood, he was fascinated by the wandering yogis of his tradition (like Naropa and Milarepa). At the age of 34, when he was a respected authority of Tibetan Buddhism and a renowned master who was teaching around the world, he decided to become a wandering yogi and embark on a solitary journey. He soon encountered many difficulties, including life-threatening situations which he describes with an amazing sincerity. His story shows how even a master encounters mental and emotional upheavals like all of us but then is able to apply his skill in meditation to restore his peace and equanimity.

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Helen Tworkov,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In Love with the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rare, intimate account of a world-renowned Buddhist monk’s near-death experience and the life-changing wisdom he gained from it

“One of the most inspiring books I have ever read.”—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart

“This book has the potential to change the reader’s life forever.”—George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo

At thirty-six years old, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche was a rising star within his generation of Tibetan masters and the respected abbot of three monasteries. Then one night, telling no one, he slipped out of his monastery in India with the intention of spending the next four…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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