The best yoga books to support your home yoga practice

Kara-Leah Grant Author Of Forty Days of Yoga
By Kara-Leah Grant

The Books I Picked & Why

Autobiography of a Yogi

By Paramahansa Yogananda

Book cover of Autobiography of a Yogi

Why this book?

This is a breakthrough, must-read, buy-it-now yoga book that will set the broader context for your home yoga practice. If I stumble across a copy in a secondhand bookshop, I always buy it, because I’m constantly giving away the copy I own. That’s how good it is. Paramahansa Yogananda, a university graduate, was one of the first great yoga masters to come over from India to the West.

This book tells the tale of studying with his guru – and it is a fantastical and magical story of expanded notions of what reality is. There’s everything from dematerialising gurus to an old woman who doesn’t eat or drink but just lives on prana, to prophecies of illness and disorder that are fulfilled, and remembered previous incarnations. There is a practicality and roundedness in this book that makes one think that maybe these experiences truly did happen.


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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self

By Stephen Cope

Book cover of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self

Why this book?

Part autobiography and part exploration of the link between yoga and psychotherapy, this book was crucial in helping me understand the yogic journey within a psychological framework. This is important when embarking on a home yoga practice. Stephen Cope, a psychotherapist who left a practice in Boston to live, study and teach at Kripalu, examines how our practice of yoga affects the psyche – the ups & downs, the traps and pitfalls, the freedoms, and liberation.

You’re unlikely to get this kind of in-depth, specialist understanding from your local yoga teacher, and it helps to ground the spiritual journey in a Western context. Stephen also goes into great depth about the awakening of Kundalini energy within the body – something he both witnessed and experienced during his time at Kripalu.


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Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service

By Ram Dass, Mirabai Bush

Book cover of Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service

Why this book?

Compassion, for self and others, can be an overlooked aspect of practicing at home. I found this book when I was awash with judgmental thoughts about people, and feeling spiritually more evolved or spiritually superior to people. And then I was judgmental against myself for having judgmental thoughts about other people all the time!

This book helped me understand and move through this phase in the spiritual journey. In the first half of the book, Ram Dass talks about his journey. In the second half, Mirabai Bush talks about practical steps for being of service in the world. It was Ram Dass’s journey that really spoke to me initially – especially when he tells the story of having to return to his family home at the age of 55 and take care of his aging father. It is a must-read for those wishing to develop more compassion on the yogic journey.


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Beyond Power Yoga: 8 Levels of Practice for Body and Soul

By Beryl Bender Birch

Book cover of Beyond Power Yoga: 8 Levels of Practice for Body and Soul

Why this book?

This book, and Beryl’s earlier book, Power Yoga: The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout, were my bibles when I began to build a home yoga practice. Not only do they include step-by-step instructions for Power Yoga, a derivative of Astanaga yoga, but they detail other aspects of the yoga journey including Patanjali’s eight limbs.

In Beyond Power Yoga, Beryl explores everything from her journey into yoga and to India, yoga in action, breathing, meditation, and ‘leap into liberation – bliss’. She is a consummate storyteller and uses real-life experiences from her own life to illustrate yogic concepts like bandhas, vayus, tapas, yamas, and niyamas.


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Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness

By Donna Farhi

Book cover of Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness

Why this book?

An American now living in New Zealand, Donna strongly emphasises inquiring your way into your yoga practice. She invites the readers to ask many questions that other teachers don’t even mention – like why practice asana at all?

This book starts where all yoga starts – with the breath. Donna explores letting the breath move you and guiding the breath. From there, it’s a steady step-by-step look at the foundation of any good yoga practice. She invites readers to look at yielding, radiating, centering, supporting, and aligning within their practice. It’s such a delicious way to explore yoga. 

The book also includes an in-depth look into the various systems of the body and how these function within asana. Donna examines the cellular body, the musculoskeletal system, the fluid body, the organ system, and the neuroendocrine system - and all this before she illuminates the asanas themselves. This book will expand and deepen your understanding of yoga on all levels.


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