The best fun books that convey yoga’s deep teachings

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of novels and magazine articles. You can find my articles—many on mind-body and spiritual topics—in Oprah magazine, Prevention, National Geographic, and more. I started doing yoga back in my twenties when a woman almost-literally floated by me at the gym. When someone said she was the yoga teacher, I got off the spin bike and followed her into the class. I’m now a certified yoga teacher and longtime meditator. I’ve studied many classic yoga treatises, but it’s so much more fun to read—and to write—books that deliver yoga’s deep philosophies in a lighthearted, easily digestible way. 

I wrote...

Warrior Won

By Meryl Davids Landau,

Book cover of Warrior Won

What is my book about?

Lorna Crawford is married to a great guy, has an adorable child with another on the way, and recently landed a new job. The spiritual practices she has made a centerpiece of her life—yoga, mindfulness, meditation—are becoming second nature. But four months into her pregnancy, Lorna learns there may be something wrong with her unborn child. As she strives to keep her inner peace through practices from hatha to breathwork to crystal bowls, will it be enough to get her through the months of not-knowing how her baby will fare?

Warrior Won received the prestigious Independent Publisher (IPPY) award. But even more exciting is when readers tell me they relate to Lorna and are incorporating practices from this mindfulness/yoga women’s novel into their daily lives.

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The books I picked & why

Bent: How Yoga Saved My Ass

By Anne Clendening,

Book cover of Bent: How Yoga Saved My Ass

Why did I love this book?

This little memoir (some 200 postcard-size pages) packs so much yoga punch.

Clendenin goes through a lot of bad stuff—a lifelong drinking problem, the death of a relative, a life-altering medical diagnosis—but she relays it all in such a fun, girlfriendy way you can’t help but cheer her on.

Her saving grace is the yoga teacher training she begins as the book does, which carries her through the awful life events. My favorite is the way she summarizes and modernizes the four parts of the classic—and very obtuse—Yoga Sutras (e.g., one take: “don’t let that nasty ego tell you who you aren’t”).

By Anne Clendening,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“It was nothing at first. Just a little twitch. My left ring finger was twitching, slowly, almost languidly, the way fishing line does when you’ve hooked something without any strength. Like a baby perch. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.
My first thought: Stress?
(Nope, think again)”
And here begins a journey that Anne Clendening never saw coming, tried to deny, avoid, postpone and otherwise reject. After all, how does a dark L.A. hippy chick who swore off booze at 22 fit an early onset Parkinson's diagnosis into a life of bartending in Hollywood rock clubs and yoga?…

Book cover of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance

Why did I love this book?

You’ve got to love someone who calls out those who think American yoga is a skinny white woman’s practice.

Stanley is a funny, deeply honest, large-bodied, gay Black woman who knows yoga is great for everyone—in fact, her prior book is Every Body Yoga. I love the way she weaves yoga’s philosophy and practices into this short and readable memoir of her life.

And I especially adore how she grasps yoga’s real purpose, which isn’t to pretzel up in funny poses but to slow down and calm the mind. Or, as she puts it: “Honestly, you really only need to know one pose and it’s called sitting the fuck down.”

How can you not want to recommend this book to, well, everyone?

By Jessamyn Stanley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finding self-acceptance both on and off the mat.
In Sanskrit, yoga means to “yoke.” To yoke mind and body, movement and breath, light and dark, the good and the bad. This larger idea of “yoke” is what Jessamyn Stanley calls the yoga of the everyday—a yoga that is not just about perfecting your downward dog but about applying the hard lessons learned on the mat to the even harder daily project of living.
In a series of deeply honest, funny autobiographical essays, Jessamyn explores everything from imposter syndrome to cannabis to why it’s a full-time job loving yourself, all through…

Book cover of Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to  Enlightenment

Why did I love this book?

This spunky yoga memoir came out more than a decade ago (the same time as my first women’s yoga novel), and it remains my all-time favorite fun yoga read.

When 25-year-old, death-obsessed, cigarette-smoking Morrison follows her beloved yoga teacher on a Bali retreat, she’s too cynical to believe everything she’s learning. Still, she gives it her best shot (even while occasionally feeling called to wine, brownies, and “the prana of the Prada”).

When Morrison finally stops trying to reach her unattainable ideal of enlightenment, she comes to understand that self-acceptance is a key yoga aim. If you haven’t read this laugh-out-loud book, do so now!

By Suzanne Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What happens when a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, steak-eating twenty-five-year-old atheist decides it is time to get in touch with her spiritual side? Not what you’d expect . . .
When Suzanne Morrison decides to travel to Bali for a two-month yoga retreat, she wants nothing more than to be transformed from a twenty-five-year-old with a crippling fear of death into her enchanting yoga teacher, Indra—a woman who seems to have found it all: love, self, and God.
But things don’t go quite as expected. Once in Bali, she finds that her beloved yoga teacher and all of her yogamates wake up…

Book cover of The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Why did I love this book?

I loved Bechdel’s amazing graphic memoir Fun Home, so I had high expectations for this book about her lifetime love affair with exercise and, eventually, yoga—and she doesn’t disappoint.

The captions to some 200 pages of her fantastic cartoon drawings are honest to a fault, covering repressed emotions, relationship difficulties, and the fear she doesn’t deserve the good things in life.

In more recent years (time-bound events like Trump’s ride down the escalator appear in background scenes), Bechdel strives to forge coherent meaning from her life history and her infatuation with Jack Kerouac and other deceased spiritual authors. 

By Alison Bechdel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret to Superhuman Strength as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Best Graphic Book of 2021 by Publishers Weekly | A New York Times Best Graphic Novel of 2021 | A New York Times Notable Book | An Autostraddle Best Queer Book of the Year | A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year | A St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Book of the Year | NPR, 12 Books NPR Staffers Loved | Shelf Awareness Best Books of 2021 

From the author of Fun Home, a profoundly affecting graphic memoir of Bechdel's lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious chronicle of fitness fads in our times

Comics and…

Book cover of Take Off Your Shoes: One Man's Journey from the Boardroom to Bali and Back

Why did I love this book?

Most yoga memoirs and novels are written by women, so I was intrigued when I first stumbled on this book by a hard-charging CEO who picks up his family and moves to Bali.

While there, Feder takes up yoga, meditation, and painting. Like any good yoga memoirist, he details all the ways the sabbatical transforms him, his relationship with his kids and, upon returning to the U.S., his work life. But he’s also honest about how the mind tries to sabotage his efforts at every turn.

I very much enjoyed this book and think it’s especially valuable for men looking to take a similar inward spiritual journey (even if, like the protagonists of my yoga novels, they never leave home).  

By Ben Feder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take Off Your Shoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Eat, Pray, Love for busy executives, Take Off Your Shoes invites the reader to join a journey of self-rediscovery.

If 10% Happier made you more mindful, and Wild more adventuresome, Take Off Your Shoes will ground you and help you find your soul.

"The magic of Ben Feder's narrative is that we see our own lives unfold as we travel alongside him on his journey. His poignant inner monologue touches us and emboldens us to make braver choices in our own lives. We are left richer for the voyage." Eric Langshur, author of the New York Times bestseller Start…

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