The best books that are essential to the study of yoga

The Books I Picked & Why

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

By B.K.S. Iyengar

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

Why 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. 


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The Tree of Yoga

By B.K.S. Iyengar

Book cover of The Tree of Yoga

Why 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).


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

By Ravi Ravindra

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

Why 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.  


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Under the Banyan Tree: Overcoming Fear and Sorrow

By Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Why 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. 


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

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Helen Tworkov

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

Why 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.


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