The best yoga books

20 authors have picked their favorite books about yoga and why they recommend each book.

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The Essential Yoga Sutra

By Geshe Michael Roach, Lama Christie McNally,

Book cover of The Essential Yoga Sutra: Ancient Wisdom for Your Yoga

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is how to manage my own fear and excitement. How we react to the world around us is one of the few things we are truly in control of! This is the book that helped me most to shift the way I perceive and react to things, allowing me to live more calmly in my work and my life even in the face of complexity, fear, even success. 

This book is weirdly simple, almost child-like in its cadence, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. I found it valuable to sit with the short parables and examples especially when I’m having an emotional response surrounding a business decision. 

This was the first book based on Buddhist teachings that I ever read and made sense to me in a practical way. The writing style is strange (and the author has a truly bizarre…


Who am I?

Alex Hillman is always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust, and business. He’s an author, educator, and community builder. These days, he splits his time between operating Indy Hall, which is one of the oldest coworking spaces in the world; teaching creative people how to bootstrap their own businesses at Stacking the Bricks; and collaborating with people and organizations towards the goal of helping 10,000 people become sustainably independent by 2029.


I wrote...

The Tiny MBA: 100 Very Short Lessons about the Long Game of Business

By Alex Hillman,

Book cover of The Tiny MBA: 100 Very Short Lessons about the Long Game of Business

What is my book about?

What you really need to know is something that most business people won't say out lou. There is no single right way to do things in business, but there are plenty of avoidable mistakes along the way. The Tiny MBA offers 100 pointed pieces of guidance that will help you begin to think like someone who has started and run their own business for 15 years and intends to keep doing it for a long time. Each page of the book offers ideas and prompts and clues and suggestions and reflections to help you navigate the business in ways that most people only learn the hard way.

Check out the book here.

Yoga and Veganism

By Sharon Gannon,

Book cover of Yoga and Veganism: The Diet of Enlightenment

The first moral precept of yoga is ahimsa, harmlessness, nonviolence, reverence for life. This is one of the reasons why the traditional yogic diet has always been vegetarian. Gannon, the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga, contends that for our practice of ahimsa -- and yoga's other ethical convictions -- to be complete, we need to move toward a pure vegetarian, i.e., vegan, lifestyle. She supports her contention with the yamas and niyamas, yoga's ethical code put forth in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. And she brings the blissful combination of yoga and veganism together with stories of other vegan yogis. (Full disclosure: I'm one of these. And in the audio version, each contributor reads their own story.)


Who am I?

I'm an American author of thirteen books (so far). Some are on vegan living (Main Street Vegan, The Love-Powered Diet); others (Creating a Charmed Life, Shelter for the Spirit, Younger by the Day) are about wellbeing and crafting an inner life. My passions are spirituality -- yoga primarily, but all the ways people find meaning; compassionate living: extending loving-kindness to ourselves and all beings; and creating vibrant health through yoga, Ayurveda, plant-based eating, and a grateful outlook. (Here's a little preview: I'm in the early stages of a book about aging like a yogi.)


I wrote...

Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World

By Victoria Moran, Adair Moran,

Book cover of Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World

What is my book about?

This is my heart's work for a way of life that's dear to me -- and to my daughter and co-writer Adair, a lifelong vegan who now works as an aerialist and stunt performer. People often think that going vegan is extreme, or that it's only for young celebrities and old hippies. Not so! It's a beautiful way of being on earth, of dining gently, living wisely, and making a difference.

I wrote Main Street Vegan because I'm a Main Street gal, originally from Kansas City where we're known for steak and barbecue. I learned that I can love my hometown and also choose to eat without harming animals (or my arteries) and help the planet deal with some of its troubles, too. This book is welcoming to you wherever you are on your vegan or veg-curious journey, and in it, you'll find everything you need to thrive.

Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit

By Donna Farhi,

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

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…


Who am I?

My journey into home yoga practice began in 2004 when I moved to a small mountain town with no yoga classes. I started practicing for the health of my mind and body and kept practicing because it became an integral part of my identity. In 2006, when I began teaching yoga, I committed to practicing yoga every day so that I could be the best possible teacher for my students. These were the books that helped me keep that commitment. Many of them I’ve read multiple times, and all of them helped me show up to the mat, and understand both my bodily and psychological experience of home yoga practice.


I wrote...

Forty Days of Yoga

By Kara-Leah Grant,

Book cover of Forty Days of Yoga

What is my book about?

Packed full of ingeniously practical worksheets and examples from Kara-Leah's own life, this book invites readers to reflect honestly and creatively on their own process and aspirations for a home yoga practice. Kara-Leah takes readers on a journey into their psyche and helps them design strategies to make daily yoga practice possible in their life - no matter what that life is like.

Kara-Leah has a no-nonsense approach that is practical, down-to-earth, and also light-hearted. She's encouraging and supportive but leaves no excuses left standing. By the end of the book, you'll know what supports your yoga practice, what undermines your practice, and exactly what you need to do about it.

The Secret Power of Yoga

By Nischala Joy Devi,

Book cover of The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman's Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras

After reading more traditional versions of the Yoga Sutras and finding them a bit difficult to digest, this book made the classical yoga teachings much more understandable and applicable to my current experience of life. As a yoga teacher, I found new pragmatic ways to explain esoteric concepts to my students. This text was also a big inspiration for my own writing.  


Who am I?

As a long-time student and teacher of yoga, I have read extensively on the philosophy and practice of this ancient science. After 25 years, I still discover daily, new benefits as I deepen my understanding of this tradition’s peace-bringing principles. Because I have found so much personal wellbeing through yoga, I made a career as a yoga therapist, coaching others in the yogic practices which help us establish inner peace, balance, and joy. Hundreds of clients have given me feedback in the benefits they too have received by integrating these teachings. Through the embodiment of yoga philosophy, we can truly transform our consciousness and reunite body, soul, and spirit.


I wrote...

True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment

By Jennie Lee,

Book cover of True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment

What is my book about?

True Yoga is an inspirational and practical guide to living the eight limbs of yoga. It reaches beyond the popular physical practice to the timeless teachings of consciousness transformation outlined in the Yoga Sutras, making the wisdom and universal spirituality of the ancient yogis understandable and practical for all. Whether challenged by work, health, relationships, or parenting, this book will help readers achieve lasting happiness and freedom from the stress of modern living.

Effective methods for maintaining positive thoughts, managing stress, improving communication, and building new habits for success are included. Using daily practices, self-inquiry questions, and inspiring affirmations, yoga therapist Jennie Lee presents a way of living that leads to inner peace and spiritual integration.

The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita

By Paramahansa Yogananda,

Book cover of The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India's Universal Science of God-Realization

The Bhagavad Gita is the most complete text of yoga philosophy. It can however be difficult to understand, as it is presented through an allegorical battle, which represents the inner battle of every human life between the ego and the soul. This version makes the essential teachings clear and very relatable and has helped me in my understanding of my own identity. I refer to this text often when helping my students connect to their divine nature as well as their human personality self.


Who am I?

As a long-time student and teacher of yoga, I have read extensively on the philosophy and practice of this ancient science. After 25 years, I still discover daily, new benefits as I deepen my understanding of this tradition’s peace-bringing principles. Because I have found so much personal wellbeing through yoga, I made a career as a yoga therapist, coaching others in the yogic practices which help us establish inner peace, balance, and joy. Hundreds of clients have given me feedback in the benefits they too have received by integrating these teachings. Through the embodiment of yoga philosophy, we can truly transform our consciousness and reunite body, soul, and spirit.


I wrote...

True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment

By Jennie Lee,

Book cover of True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment

What is my book about?

True Yoga is an inspirational and practical guide to living the eight limbs of yoga. It reaches beyond the popular physical practice to the timeless teachings of consciousness transformation outlined in the Yoga Sutras, making the wisdom and universal spirituality of the ancient yogis understandable and practical for all. Whether challenged by work, health, relationships, or parenting, this book will help readers achieve lasting happiness and freedom from the stress of modern living.

Effective methods for maintaining positive thoughts, managing stress, improving communication, and building new habits for success are included. Using daily practices, self-inquiry questions, and inspiring affirmations, yoga therapist Jennie Lee presents a way of living that leads to inner peace and spiritual integration.

Yoga

By Mircea Eliade, Willard R. Trask (translator),

Book cover of Yoga: Immortality and Freedom

This book provides a historical overview of yoga philosophy and psychology and is a great introduction to the study of yoga. It was originally written in French by Mircea Eliade, who became the dean of Religious Studies all over the world, for decades training graduate students at the University of Chicago. The book is now a little dated on certain topics such as tantra and the yogic practices of Buddhism. Nevertheless, it stands as the preëminent classic in the field of yoga studies. It has a bouncy but elegant style and has been a favorite in the courses I have taught on yoga at the University of Texas at Austin.

While a student in India in his early twenties, Eliade had an affair with the daughter of his Sanskrit teacher, the renowned and august scholar, Surendranath Dasgupta. There is apparently a novel by Eliade in Romanian about this and another…


Who am I?

As a professional sanskritist and academic, I have travelled to India well more than twenty times, for fellowships, conferences, and (fortunately) months of study with a traditional Sanskrit pundit, the great N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya. But my first trip was when I was twenty, dropping out of college and travelling from a kibbutz in Israel to India (overland no less, after a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul in 1971) where I was graciously admitted into a yoga-ashram school. There I began learning Sanskrit as well as various yoga techniques. I stayed that time for two years. “All life is yoga,” says Sri Aurobindo, and I have long wished my life to be that since “yoga” is for me practically a synonym for “right living.”


I wrote...

Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

By Stephen H. Phillips,

Book cover of Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

What is my book about?

In discussing yoga's fundamental commitments, Phillips explores traditional teachings of hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and tantra, and shows how such core concepts as self-monitoring consciousness, karma, non-harmfulness (ahimsa), reincarnation, and the powers of consciousness relate to modern practice. He outlines values implicit in bhakti yoga and the tantric yoga of beauty and art and explains the occult psychologies of koshas, skandhas, and chakras. His book incorporates original translations from the early Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutra (the entire text), the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and seminal tantric writings of the tenth-century Kashmiri Shaivite, Abhinava Gupta.

A remarkable exploration of yoga's conceptual legacy, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth crystallizes ideas about self and reality that unite the many incarnations of yoga.

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha

By Swami Satyananda Saraswati,

Book cover of Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha

This is a premier practice manual, compiled from lectures given for a seven-month course of yoga-teacher training by the great swami who is an excellent writer as well as a beautiful person. In the US, the rival manual, Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar may be more popular, and both authors have several more wide-ranging books, Swami Satyananda with the large and long A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya and the autobiographical Taming the Kundalini among other books mainly in Hindi, Iyengar with The Tree of Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on Life, and others.


Who am I?

As a professional sanskritist and academic, I have travelled to India well more than twenty times, for fellowships, conferences, and (fortunately) months of study with a traditional Sanskrit pundit, the great N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya. But my first trip was when I was twenty, dropping out of college and travelling from a kibbutz in Israel to India (overland no less, after a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul in 1971) where I was graciously admitted into a yoga-ashram school. There I began learning Sanskrit as well as various yoga techniques. I stayed that time for two years. “All life is yoga,” says Sri Aurobindo, and I have long wished my life to be that since “yoga” is for me practically a synonym for “right living.”


I wrote...

Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

By Stephen H. Phillips,

Book cover of Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

What is my book about?

In discussing yoga's fundamental commitments, Phillips explores traditional teachings of hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and tantra, and shows how such core concepts as self-monitoring consciousness, karma, non-harmfulness (ahimsa), reincarnation, and the powers of consciousness relate to modern practice. He outlines values implicit in bhakti yoga and the tantric yoga of beauty and art and explains the occult psychologies of koshas, skandhas, and chakras. His book incorporates original translations from the early Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutra (the entire text), the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and seminal tantric writings of the tenth-century Kashmiri Shaivite, Abhinava Gupta.

A remarkable exploration of yoga's conceptual legacy, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth crystallizes ideas about self and reality that unite the many incarnations of yoga.

Thoughts and Aphorisms

By Sri Aurobindo,

Book cover of Thoughts and Aphorisms

This is a tiny book but chock full of yoga wisdom in pithy statements by Sri Aurobindo. It was first published in 1914-1920 in a journal of “yoga and speculative philosophy.” Along with Swami Vivekananda (who brought Vedānta to the West, according to a prominent statue and inscription at India Gate at the port of Mumbai), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was president of India in the nineteen-fifties, and the revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi, the master yogi Sri Aurobindo is a leading philosopher of “neo-Vedānta” in the modern era and beyond a doubt the most original. Neo-Vedānta draws on ideas of the Upanishads and the Gītā to attempt a modern spiritual worldview.

Aurobindo’s philosophic magnum opus, The Life Divine, is long and complex, a difficult read. But Thoughts and Aphorisms, about a hundred small pages, is easy, the brief statements delightful, little yoga wisdom poems in prose. The aphorisms are arranged…


Who am I?

As a professional sanskritist and academic, I have travelled to India well more than twenty times, for fellowships, conferences, and (fortunately) months of study with a traditional Sanskrit pundit, the great N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya. But my first trip was when I was twenty, dropping out of college and travelling from a kibbutz in Israel to India (overland no less, after a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul in 1971) where I was graciously admitted into a yoga-ashram school. There I began learning Sanskrit as well as various yoga techniques. I stayed that time for two years. “All life is yoga,” says Sri Aurobindo, and I have long wished my life to be that since “yoga” is for me practically a synonym for “right living.”


I wrote...

Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

By Stephen H. Phillips,

Book cover of Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy

What is my book about?

In discussing yoga's fundamental commitments, Phillips explores traditional teachings of hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and tantra, and shows how such core concepts as self-monitoring consciousness, karma, non-harmfulness (ahimsa), reincarnation, and the powers of consciousness relate to modern practice. He outlines values implicit in bhakti yoga and the tantric yoga of beauty and art and explains the occult psychologies of koshas, skandhas, and chakras. His book incorporates original translations from the early Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutra (the entire text), the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and seminal tantric writings of the tenth-century Kashmiri Shaivite, Abhinava Gupta.

A remarkable exploration of yoga's conceptual legacy, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth crystallizes ideas about self and reality that unite the many incarnations of yoga.

Yoga Revolution

By Jivana Heyman,

Book cover of Yoga Revolution: Building a Practice of Courage and Compassion

I love this book so much I wish I wrote it. It speaks to creating equity not only in yoga spaces but out in the world. This book features quite a few yoga rebels that are changing the game and are my friends and colleagues. Yoga Revolution teaches the world how to apply yoga philosophy to help the world be a better place for all of us. It is about healing our communities. Rebels are about the revolution; knowing the rules so you can break them. Breaking the rules that need to be broken.


Who am I?

I'm an author, movement coach, and yoga teacher. I've been practicing yoga on and off for about 48 years. I was introduced to yoga by my mom through a really old book called Be Young with Yoga at 3 years old. Yoga has been a part of my entire existence in one way or another. I have had the honour and privilege to study with yoga teachers and educators for the past 30+ years and it has been life-changing. I have been a yoga teacher and movement coach for 30+ years, I have watched yoga make sad people feel better, injured people get strong, and shy people become leaders in their communities around equity and diversity. 


I wrote...

Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body

By Dianne Bondy,

Book cover of Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body

What is my book about?

Bring Dianne’s body-positive yoga philosophy to your mat. No matter who you are, what you look like, or what your abilities are, you can do all 50 poses in Dianne Bondy’s new book, Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body.

Learn how to adapt 50 classic yoga poses and how to put them all together to create 10 sequences you can practice at home. Explore how to use yoga props for each pose to make your practice uniquely your own. Discover how to harness yoga postures to experience specific physical and mental benefits.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

By Sri Swami Satchidananda,

Book cover of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

We cannot understand what yoga is without studying The Yoga Sutras. The Sutras are the first documented text of yoga that describes how the mind works and how it gets in our way of seeing clearly. The Sutras tell us how to alter our thought patterns so we connect to the moment, see what’s really happening, and suffer less. They are the manual for the study and practice of yoga — ancient but still useful, concentrated, and meditative. They are a resource I come back to again and again and feel like an advice column from somewhere celestial. I’m partial to this translation because it was used in my teacher training, and after reading others, I find it the most down-to-earth while still honoring the tradition.


Who am I?

The physical practice of yoga transformed my relationship to my body, but the philosophy of yoga changed my life. When I began to study the Sutras, my mind became calmer; I had a greater capacity to listen and be patient in my relationships, and my quality of life improved. As I studied philosophy more, my perspective shifted from lack and blame to abundance and self-awareness. Knowing there is more to yoga than just the physical practice, I find it important to honor the tradition the way it was intended: as a whole system for the mind, body, and spirit to reduce the suffering of all beings.


I wrote...

YOGA's YAMAS and NIYAMAS: 10 Principles for Peace & Purpose

By Courtney Seiberling,

Book cover of YOGA's YAMAS and NIYAMAS: 10 Principles for Peace & Purpose

What is my book about?

The Yamas and Niyamas are yoga's ethical principles about how to treat others and how to take care of ourselves. In the West, yoga is known as a form of exercise, but the Yoga Sutras explain it as a system to manage the mind using the Yamas and Niyamas, breathwork, postures, and various stages of meditation. My book explains each Yama and Niyama in a relatable way and then offers a physical practice, consideration, mantra, journal prompt, and personal account of how I applied each one to real life.

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