With hundreds and thousands of books detailing the practice of yoga, it’s hard to know where to begin. While there are a few yoga books that are regarded as the must-reads, even with the number of translations available it can be confusing with direction to head in!
These books below I truly believe are some of the best yoga books out there and translations that are easy to understand and digestable for today’s modern world. Whether you’re new to yoga, have been practicing for decades, or are a yoga teacher like me, a true yoga practitioner is forever a student and we can all find something new to learn in either new books or in rereading the same ones. I hope these books can be as eye-opening and enlightening to you as they were for me.
Top Yoga Books Worth Reading
From ancient teachings to modern practices, these yoga books will take you through time, onto your mat, and into the modern world in new, enlightening ways.
The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are regarded by many to be the basis of yoga philosophy, which makes this book a must-read for any yoga practitioner. The 196 Sutras, translated as thought-threads, in this book discuss the mental and philosophic aspects of yoga, focusing on concentration and meditation.
This translation includes the original Sanskrit writings, translated into English, and with commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, a well-respected yoga master. His commentary provides insight from his own practices and are delivered in a way that are easy to understand, even bringing in humour, and can simply be applied for the modern yogi.
While there are many translations of the Yoga Sutras available, I personally recommend this one to begin with. It’s a book that can be returned to again and again for lessons as one moves through life. It truly is an essential yoga book for all and one of the top yoga books of all time.
Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar
One of the yoga books you’ll hear mentioned frequently is Light on Yoga, and its author too, B.K.S Iyengar, who has written other books diving deeper into other parts of yoga, such as pranayama and the Yoga Sutras. Light on Yoga itself though is regarded as the yoga bible for many as Iyengar was very influential in bringing yoga to the west and helped spread the idea that yoga is for all. While Iyengar himself was hypermobile (as can be seen in the asana pictures throughout the book), don’t let yourself be intimidated. His instruction teaches one how to marry breath with movement, and he brings in yoga philosophy too, combining the many practices of yoga into one, as he breaks down 200 yoga poses. This is an essential yoga book for teachers and curious beginners alike.
The Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is a classic Hindu and yoga text that tells the story of the warrior prince Arjuna who is faced with a war that he doesn’t want to fight. The book is a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna that teaches a number of lessons of how to live well, make difficult choices, and surrender. It truly is a poetic tale and one that a lot of wisdom can be learned from as it dives into the battle between good and evil. This specific translation is literal and is a great option for first-time readers of The Bhagavad Gita.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Though not technically a yoga book, The Four Agreements is most certainly a book that many yogis can learn deeply from. This short and easy read will open your eyes and allow you to see your life in a new way. While yoga teaches us how to move through emotions and to live a yogic life on one’s path to enlightenment, a state of blissfulness, The Four Agreements teaches us how to release needless suffering from our lives through four rules, or agreements as they’re referred to. By living a life following these agreements one can expect to find more joy, love, freedom, and less suffering.
The Autobiography Of A Yogi By Paramahansa Yogananda
Regarded as a classic spiritual text, this memoir-style yoga book will lead you through an adventure story that, of course, has many teachings. Expect to have a number of self-realizations as the challenges of living a spiritual life are discussed, and questions about a higher power, God, and consciousness, along with yoga, are questioned and reflected upon.
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra system as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith
Take a deep dive into your energy body by learning about the chakras in depth from both an eastern and western mindset. Sometimes without knowing it or giving credit to it, yoga can help us to balance our chakras, the energy wheels in our bodies that can hold onto stagnant energy and cause a number of disturbances in our bodies, physically, emotionally, and mentally. This chakra book does an excellent job of combining ancient eastern teachings with psychology from the west today, making the chakra system make a lot of sense for our modern thought process and marrying the ideas of varying times into one. This is certainly a book you’ll come back to again and again.
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
For the amount of talk about how yoga is for every body, there’s not enough teachers giving variations, in my opinion. Jessamyn Stanley does an incredible job of breaking down the physical asanas and making them accessible for many kinds of bodies. The book is filled with images of yoga practitioners of all sizes and colours, making the practice more inclusive and available. She also brings to light a modern take on yoga that is easily digestible and adaptable to one’s own life, and for those from marginalized backgrounds as well, which is what makes it a great yoga for beginners book. Her second book, Yoke: My Yoga of Self Acceptance, is equally as good but focuses solely on living a yogic life in a modern world.
Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body by Dianne Bondy
One of the best yoga books for home practice, Dianne Bondy does an exceptional job of showing how yoga poses can be adapted to all kinds of bodies. And we’re not just talking about for those who are inflexible or have a bit of fat around the middle! For those who are pregnant, in a wheelchair, or even without four limbs, this book dives into asanas for all will truly help you to feel at home in your body as like a yogi in no time.
The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice By T. K. V. Desikacher
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya has played a very influential role in bringing yoga to the masses and inspired many through his work in developing yoga that many different yoga lineages came from. His son, the author of this book, has continued his practices and ideas in this book that encourages each individual to continually evolve their yoga practice for themself. This book goes into what yoga means beyond the physical practice, and how yogic philosophy, meditation, and asanas can be continually adapted for all of us during different periods of our lives.
Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice by Susan Barkataki
Yoga in the west is still relatively new, having really only been here for a few decades. Yet in the east is has been around for centuries. As yoga moved to the west it lost many parts of its practice as westerners grabbed onto parts that they liked the most, the physical practice. Susan Barkataki does incredible work of bringing to light the additional ancient practices that are a part of yoga that were left behind in today’s western adaptation. She talks on big topics that cover how not to appropriate yoga and instead how we can honour it. I truly believe this is a yoga book that every modern yoga practitioner should read.
I know there are so many more recommendations to give, but in the meantime, I hope these books will take you on a journey of self-discovery that you can enjoy both on and off the mat.