The best yoga asana books

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

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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.

Babar's Yoga for Elephants

By Laurent de Brunhoff,

Book cover of Babar's Yoga for Elephants

This beautifully illustrated Babar book does not disappoint. It is a fun and playful visit with a beloved childhood favorite and includes a bonus chart of basic yoga poses performed by elephants. Children and their adult friends and family will be charmed by the invitation to join the family of elephants in finding tranquility through yoga poses and breathing exercises.


Who am I?

I'm an artist, writer, teacher, and longtime yoga practitioner. I started practicing yoga in my early twenties during a difficult time in my life and the peace, grounding, and community that I discovered in yoga have stayed with me over the years, growing and evolving over time. One of my favorite experiences was the opportunity to teach children and teens who had never even heard of yoga before. Now I'm a professor at San Diego State University and also started and run a statewide program called Prison Arts Collective, bringing art programs to people who are incarcerated. We often include mindfulness and breathing exercises along with art. 


I wrote...

The Kids Yoga Deck

By Annie Buckley,

Book cover of The Kids Yoga Deck

What is my book about?

Yoga is fun! Get kids bending, breathing, and stretching with The Kids Yoga Deck. Playful poses such as Cat, Flower, Airplane, and Gorilla, as well as partner poses that can be performed with friends teach kids the basics of yoga. Easy enough for children to do on their own, The Kids Yoga Deck engages bodies and minds to help youngsters build strength, flexibility, balance, and mental focus. The back of each card includes creative prompts for activities and projects that integrate art and writing to inspire kids to have fun, be creative, and delve into the awareness and interconnectivity that is central to yoga. Kids will move, breathe, draw, write, and play together or with teachers and parents with this imaginative and integrated take on yoga!

Science of Yoga

By Ann Swanson,

Book cover of Science of Yoga: Understand the Anatomy and Physiology to Perfect Your Practice

As a mind-body science educator, Ann Swanson specializes in making complex scientific concepts simple and easy to understand. And in this dazzlingly-illustrated, comprehensive guide to how and why yoga works, she masterfully deconstructs more than two dozen basic yoga poses with detailed information on the physical and energetic components. A section on human anatomy explains various systemsincluding cardiovascular, digestive, and endocrineand a Q & A section explores common concerns such as chronic pain, stress, and mental well-being. Full disclosureAnn is a friend and colleaguewith extraordinary energy, deep compassion, and a generous heart.  


Who am I?

I’m a yoga therapist, health journalist, mother, and grandmother with a passion for helping people harness the powerful medicine of movement. Physical activity is essential to good health, and yoga can be particularly effective because it’s a holistic discipline that enhances all aspects of wellbeing—physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual. I started taking a weekly yoga class in my early 20s to stretch tight muscles and relieve stress from my busy job as a Washington Post reporter. Nearly 50 years later, yoga is central to my life, with practices that have helped me through several major health challenges, and kept me balanced, fit, and centered in our unpredictable world.  


I wrote...

Relax Into Yoga for Seniors: A Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief

By Kimberly Carson, Carol Krucoff,

Book cover of Relax Into Yoga for Seniors: A Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief

What is my book about?

Yoga can be profoundly healing for older adults, but finding a safe and effective practice is challenging because many commonly-taught postures are risky for seniors. This is why—for over a decade—we have collaborated with experts at Duke Medical Center to create accessible, evidence-informed practices that combine the best of current medical knowledge with the ancient wisdom of traditional yogic teachings.  

Relax into Yoga for Seniors presents a six-week gentle yoga program—with step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and downloadable audiosdesigned to guide older adults through a safe, effective and enjoyable yoga practice. We offer specifics about yoga for healthy aging, including guidelines for safe practice with age-related ailments including arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, and chronic pain—plus a downloadable Teacher's Guide.

Beyond Power Yoga

By Beryl Bender Birch,

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

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.


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.

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.

Body Mindful Yoga

By Robert Butera, Jennifer Kreatsoulas,

Book cover of Body Mindful Yoga: Create a Powerful and Affirming Relationship with Your Body

I love this book because it addresses the issues we have with body image and how to heal ourselves from our negative words, thoughts, and beliefs. We get to dig deeper into our relationships with our bodies through the yoga practice. This book shows us mindful steps on how to listen, learn, love, and live with specific practical practices that can change our lives. If you live in the world today you have been faced with lots of body blaming and shaming. This read will help you find body peace and contentment.


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 Sivananda Companion to Yoga

By Sivananda Yoga Center,

Book cover of The Sivananda Companion to Yoga: A Complete Guide to the Physical Postures, Breathing Exercises, Diet, Relaxation, and Meditation Techniques of Yoga

This book introduced me to a steady practice of yoga postures. I read it daily and with practice I was eventually able to even do the headstand! The pictures in it are beautifully done and inspiring. This book encouraged me to travel to many Sivananda Yoga Ashrams, where I studied for weeks at a time submerging myself into the yoga lifestyle. I learned a great deal about living in yoga thru this book.


Who am I?

I was introduced to meditation through a hatha yoga course I took as a college student. That’s when I first became enthralled with eastern philosophy. I studied and later taught these subjects becoming a College Professor in them. I’m also a musician and massage therapist. I consider music, meditation, yoga, massage to be beautiful healing modalities with endless transformative possibilities. My various books have been translated into French, Polish, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Russian, Bulgarian, and more. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation (co-written with Eve Adamson) has recently become available as an audiobook on Audible.com. This book has turned thousands of people onto the meditative path and I hope it will you too.


I wrote...

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meditation

By Joan Budilovsky, Eve Adamson,

Book cover of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meditation

What is my book about?

In today's hectic times, it's more important than ever to learn to slow down, relax and be calm.

Whether part of religious habit or just part of a daily routine, meditation can help slow today's frenzied pace and improve feelings of good health, peace, and control. In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Meditation, Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson explain how easy it is to enjoy the benefits of meditation including: Simple stress-reduction techniques that make learning to meditate easier; Incorporating meditation into day-to-day situations. Common misconceptions about meditating; Special techniques from Zen to mindfulness meditation and more.

Light on Yoga

By B.K.S. Iyengar,

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

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. 


Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by yoga and the wonderful stories about yogis. When I was in the fourth grade, studying the subject of 'India', I taught myself to stand on my head and fold my legs in the lotus position. I love practicing yoga – every morning, I thank the Gurus and teachers from whom I learned! I've taught yoga for almost 40 years now and strongly believe that the practice and teaching of yoga, done with devotion and love can transform one's life for the good. I wrote 7 books about yoga (the last, Yoga in Nature is forthcoming) I regularly write articles on yoga and have translated two of B.K.S. Iyengar's books into Hebrew.


I wrote...

The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

By Eyal Shifroni,

Book cover of The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

What is my book about?

A practical guide for improving and enriching your practice of Iyengar Yoga using a chair. The Extended Chair for Yoga is an extended version of the popular A Chair for Yoga. It includes twice the number of variations (the variations from the original book are included).

The book includes more than 600 photos, illustrating how to perform each variation. The level of difficulty and benefits are indicated for each variation. It can benefit both yoga practitioners and yoga teachers. Those who studied A Chair for Yoga will find here a trove of new ideas for hours of enjoyable yoga practice and exploration of the asanas!

The Tree of Yoga

By B.K.S. Iyengar,

Book cover of The Tree of Yoga

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).


Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by yoga and the wonderful stories about yogis. When I was in the fourth grade, studying the subject of 'India', I taught myself to stand on my head and fold my legs in the lotus position. I love practicing yoga – every morning, I thank the Gurus and teachers from whom I learned! I've taught yoga for almost 40 years now and strongly believe that the practice and teaching of yoga, done with devotion and love can transform one's life for the good. I wrote 7 books about yoga (the last, Yoga in Nature is forthcoming) I regularly write articles on yoga and have translated two of B.K.S. Iyengar's books into Hebrew.


I wrote...

The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

By Eyal Shifroni,

Book cover of The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

What is my book about?

A practical guide for improving and enriching your practice of Iyengar Yoga using a chair. The Extended Chair for Yoga is an extended version of the popular A Chair for Yoga. It includes twice the number of variations (the variations from the original book are included).

The book includes more than 600 photos, illustrating how to perform each variation. The level of difficulty and benefits are indicated for each variation. It can benefit both yoga practitioners and yoga teachers. Those who studied A Chair for Yoga will find here a trove of new ideas for hours of enjoyable yoga practice and exploration of the asanas!

Hell-Bent

By Benjamin Lorr,

Book cover of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga

You might be wondering why a book about yoga is on this list, and I tell you it’s because crime is everywhere! Lorr does incredible immersive journalism and for this book he embedded with Bikram yoga teachers and ended up breaking the story of Bikram Choudhury’s sexual misconduct. The book deconstructs the culture of cult-like thinking to reveal how crimes are perpetrated, excused, and covered up, and you’ll learn a lot about yoga in the process. Lorr is also hilarious but in a more maximalist gonzo manner. 


Who am I?

When asked to describe the nonfiction genre I work in, I often say “true crime-adjacent,” meaning that while there is crime in my books, I’m more interested in the people, circumstances, and culture in which those crimes occur than the act itself. I love books that go deep into character analysis and motivation, as well as the author’s inclination toward the subject. These true crime-adjacent books are all-absorbing, thought-provoking page-turners, with stories so wild you won’t believe they’re completely real. 


I wrote...

Love Lockdown: Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America's Prisons

By Elizabeth Greenwood,

Book cover of Love Lockdown: Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America's Prisons

What is my book about?

Over the course of five years, Elizabeth Greenwood followed the ups and downs of five couples who met during incarceration. In Love Lockdown, she pulls back the curtain on the lives of the husbands and wives supporting some of the 2.3 million people in prisons around the United States. In the vein of Modern Love, this book shines a light on how these relationships reflect the desire and delusion we all experience in our romantic pairings. Love Lockdown infiltrates spaces many of us have only heard whispers of—from conjugal visits to prison weddings to relationships between the incarcerated themselves.

A fascinating and unputdownable deep-dive from the “quirky, engaging, and surprisingly uplifting” journalist Elizabeth Greenwood. - Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author

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