The best books for stress relief

Who am I?

I'm a yoga therapist, health journalist, and author, and my passion is helping people harness the powerful medicine of movement. In my work with hundreds of yoga students and yoga therapy clients, and in my own life—facing some serious health challenges—I’ve found that taking yoga off the mat and into daily life with these simple practices is a powerful way to relieve stress and find ease in body and mind. In our busy, hectic lives, Yoga Sparks offers a welcome chance to pause, breathe, and connect to our inner wisdom. They will help you pay attention and move mindfully through your own precious life. 


I wrote...

Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less

By Carol Krucoff,

Book cover of Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less

What is my book about?

You only need a minute—or even less—to get the stress-relieving and health-enhancing benefits of yoga. This book is a collection of simple yoga “micro-practices” you can weave into your day to create transformative moments that turn ordinary activities—like answering the phone or waiting in line—into opportunities to stretch and strengthen your body, quiet your mind, and lift your spirits. 

Yoga Sparks arose through my 45 years of yoga practice and two decades of teaching, and they focus on four main aspects of yoga: postures, breathing, meditation, and principles (such as gratitude). No need for a yoga mat or special clothing, they’re designed for anyone, regardless of age or fitness level.  If you can breathe, you can do Yoga Sparks

The books I picked & why

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Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Why this book?

Before “mindfulness” became mainstream, this profound little book taught how being present in the moment can ease suffering and transform your life. Written by a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, who was nominated for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this poetic guide to mindfulness has been my “go-to” book for stress reduction for more than 30 years. I’m grateful that his publishers granted permission to use two of his teachings from this book, "Telephone Meditation," and “Conscious Breathing with a Smile” in my book, Yoga Sparks

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Peace Is Every Step as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is a very worthwhile book. It can change individual lives and the life of our society.' The Dalai Lama

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is - in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking in a park - and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and…


Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times

By Judith Hanson Lasater,

Book cover of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times

Why this book?

My copy of the original, 1995 edition of this book (published by Rodmell Press), is filled with paperclips and sticky notes marking my favorites among these very nourishing practices. Lasater is a physical therapist, with a PhD in East-West Psychology, who has taught yoga around the world since 1971. Back when yoga was becoming popular in the West--and many people viewed it as a “work-out”—Lasater pioneered the relaxing practice of restorative yoga, which was designed to help heal the effects of chronic stress. The book features dozens of restful poses, where the body is supported with various props—such as bolsters and blankets—arranged to make you as comfortable as possible so you can relax, breathe easily, find your center, and release tension from your body and mind.  

Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times

By Judith Hanson Lasater,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Relax and Renew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A longtime yoga instructor reveals how to manage pain, relieve stress, and promote relaxation through the gentle and meditative practices of restorative yoga

Whether you have five minutes or an hour, taking time out of each day to relax and renew is essential to living well. This book presents nurturing physical postures and breathing techniques called restorative yoga. When practiced regularly, they will help you heal the effects of chronic stress, recover from illness or injury, balance energy, and quiet the mind.

With clear instructions and photographs, Relax and Renew gently guides the experienced practitioner and enthusiastic beginner—regardless of age,…

Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing

By Richard C. Miller,

Book cover of Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing

Why this book?

During his very first yoga class, back in 1970, Richard Miller became enthralled with the final relaxation, a practice called shavasana (the corpse pose)—where you lie on your back, quiet your mind, and surrender your body to the earth. “For the first time in years, I felt free of all conflict, radiantly joyful, and attuned with the entire universe,” writes Miller, who was inspired to study yoga and understand this process of deep rest, which he would later learn as Yoga Nidra. Now a clinical psychologist, researcher, and yoga scholar, Miller presents a step-by-step guide to this deep relaxation, accompanied by a helpful CD that includes six guided Yoga Nidra practices. I’ve downloaded these audios onto my phone and enjoy letting Miller’s calm voice guide me into deep relaxation.   

Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing

By Richard C. Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now available in paperback, this book-and-CD offers a complete program for spiritual awakening through deep relaxation. Drawing from his extensive study of yoga in India and his training in Taoism and Chinese Medicine, Miller expertly guides listeners through practices that include sensing the body and exploring your essential qualities.

The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage

By Kelly McGonigal,

Book cover of The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage

Why this book?

One of my favorite stress-relievers is physical activity, and I’ve always relied on movement—going for a walk, dancing, practicing yoga—as an effective, enjoyable way to ease tension and boost my mood. Like me, Kelly McGonigal writes, “Exercise has, at various times in my life rescued me from isolation and despair, fostered courage and hope, reminded me how to experience joy and given me a place to belong.” Yet even though exercise is health-enhancing and life-extending, she notes that many people find it a chore. Using cutting-edge science and engaging storytelling, McGonigal explains why movement is essential for health and happiness. And she offers inspiration and information to help people get moving. She is also a yoga-therapy colleague who wrote the wonderful foreword for my book, Yoga Sparks.

The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage

By Kelly McGonigal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in paperback. The bestselling author of The Willpower Instinct introduces a surprising science-based book that doesn't tell us why we should exercise but instead shows us how to fall in love with movement.

Exercise is health-enhancing and life-extending, yet many of us feel it's a chore. But, as Kelly McGonigal reveals, it doesn't have to be. Movement can and should be a source of joy.

Through her trademark blend of science and storytelling, McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, as well as memoirs, ethnographies, and philosophers. She shows how movement is intertwined with some…

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

By Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, Matthew McKay

Book cover of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

Why this book?

My copy is the sixth edition, but this groundbreaking workbook now offers a seventh edition and is based on the authors’ decades of clinical experience working with clients suffering from varied symptoms of stress including insomnia, worry, hypertension, poor digestion, depression, and anger. This hefty book offers a comprehensive compilation of stress-reduction strategies—including techniques for relaxation, managing time, dealing with stressful thoughts and feelings, and effective communication. The workbook format provides helpful guidance to create a personal action plan for stress reduction.  

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

By Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, Matthew McKay

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in its seventh edition-with more than one million copies sold worldwide-The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook remains the go-to resource for stress reduction strategies that can be incorporated into even the busiest lives.

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook broke new ground when it was first published in 1980, detailing easy, step-by-step techniques for calming the body and mind in an increasingly overstimulated world. Now in its seventh edition, this fully revised and updated workbook-highly regarded by therapists and their clients-offers the latest stress reduction techniques to combat the effects of stress and integrate healthy relaxation habits into every…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in stress management, Buddhism, and yoga?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stress management, Buddhism, and yoga.

Stress Management Explore 16 books about stress management
Buddhism Explore 184 books about Buddhism
Yoga Explore 98 books about yoga

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Big Magic, Mindfulness in Plain English, and When Things Fall Apart if you like this list.