Many people will enroll in yoga teacher training programs to teach yoga and to deepen the knowledge they have of their yoga practice. If you’re interested in learning more about yoga without becoming a teacher, check out these text books. If you end up enrolling in yoga teacher training program, you might find these books on your reading list!
#1 The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T. K. V. Desikachar
The first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to viniyoga–yoga adapted to the needs of the individual. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived to be over 100 years old, was one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Elements of Krishnamacharya’s teaching have become well known around the world through the work of B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who all studied with Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya’s son T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father all his life and now teaches the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya’s yoga. Desikachar has based his method on Krishnamacharya’s fundamental concept of viniyoga, which maintains that practices must be continually adapted to the individual’s changing needs to achieve the maximum therapeutic value.
In The Heart of Yoga, Desikachar offers a distillation of his father’s system as well as his own practical approach, which he describes as “a program for the spine at every level–physical, mental, and spiritual.” This is the first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to the age-old principles of yoga. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga–poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy–and shows how the yoga student may develop a practice tailored to his or her current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle.
In just 196 short aphorisms, this classic work of Indian philosophy spells out succinctly how the mind works, and how it is possible to use the mind to attain liberation. The Yoga-Sutra is a road map of human consciousness—and a particularly helpful guide to the mind states one encounters in meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices. It expresses the truths of the human condition with great eloquence: how we know what we know, why we suffer, and how we can discover the way out of suffering.
#3 Yoga Anatomy (2nd Edition) by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Yoga Anatomy is the best-selling anatomy guide for yoga. Explore different asanas, vinyasas, anatomical illustrations, and in-depth information. Yoga Anatomy provides you with a deeper understanding of the structures and principles underlying each yoga asana.
From breath work, to inversions, to standing poses, Kaminoff explains how specific muscles respond to the movements of the joints, how modifications of a pose can enhance or reduce effectiveness; and how the spine, breathing, and body position are all fundamentally linked.
Whether you are just beginning your journey or have been practicing yoga for years, Yoga Anatomy will be an invaluable resource.
#4 The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long
The Key Muscles of Yoga is part of a series by Ray Long and offers a scientific approach to understanding the practice of modern day hatha yoga. Through color and three-dimensional illustrations of major muscles, tendons, and ligaments, Ray Long describes the practice and benefits of hatha yoga. Specific anatomical and physiological descriptions highlight the agonist, antagonist, and synergist muscles that come into play with each pose. Volume I of the series describes the key muscles of hatha yoga and how they are utilized. From beginners to experts, this book will become a constant companion.
#5 The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume II by Ray Long
The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys book offers a scientific approach to understanding the practice of hatha yoga. Through four-color, three-dimensional illustrations of major muscles, tendons, and ligaments, Ray Long describes the practice and benefits of hatha yoga. Specific anatomical and physiological descriptions highlight the agonist, antagonist, and synergist muscles that come into play within each pose. Volume II of the series illustrates the correct muscle use during key poses of hatha yoga. From beginners to experts, this book will become a constant companion for your practice and teaching.
#6 The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran
In the Bhagavad Gita or “Song of the Lord”, Prince Arjuna asks direct, uncompromising questions of his spiritual guide Lord Krishna on the eve of a great battle.The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of the concept of Dharma, theistic bhakti, the yogic ideals of moksha through jnana, bhakti, karma, and Raja Yoga and Samkhya philosophy.
In this best-selling and expanded edition of the most famous –and popular — of Indian scriptures, Eknath Easwaran contextualizes the book culturally and historically and explains the key concepts of Hindu religious thought and the technical vocabulary of yoga.
Chapter introductions, notes, and a glossary help readers understand the book’s message. Most importantly, this translation uses simple, clear language to impart the poetry, universality, and timelessness of the Gita’s teachings.
#7 Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi is a written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its tradition of meditation of Paramahansa Yogananda (January 5, 1893–March 7, 1952). The text was first published in 1946. Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, India, into a Bengali family.
Paramahansa Yogananda describes his encounters with spiritual figures of both the East and West. The book begins with his childhood family life, to finding his guru, to becoming a monk and establishing his teachings of Kriya Yoga meditation. The book continues in 1920 when Yogananda accepts an invitation to speak in a religious congress in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He then travels across America lecturing and establishing his teachings in Los Angeles, California. In 1935 he returns to India for a yearlong visit. When he returns to America, he continues to establish his teachings, including writing this book.
The book is an introduction to the methods of attaining God-realization and to the spiritual thought of the East, which had only been available to a few in 1946. The author claims that the writing of the book was prophesied long ago by the nineteenth-century master Lahiri Mahasaya.
Paramahansa Yogananda tells the inspiring chronicle of his life: the experiences of his childhood, encounters with many saints and sages during his search throughout India for a teacher, ten years of training in the hermitage of a yoga master, and the thirty years that he lived and taught in America.
#8 The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice by Georg Feuerstein
The Yoga Tradition comes from a living authority on Yoga to explain the most comprehensive and reliable treatment of the subject to date. Georg Feuerstein has dedicated his life to the understanding and practice of yoga. The book offers a complete overview of every Yogic tradition, from the familiar to the lesser-known forms. It also covers all aspects of Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina Yoga, including history, philosophy, literature, psychology and practice. In addition, included are translations of twenty Yoga treatises and the first translation of the Goraksha Paddhati.
#9 The Language of Yoga: Complete A to Y Guide to Asana Names, Sanskrit Terms, & Chants by Nicolai Bachman
For passionate and curious yoga students, The Language of Yoga offers the definitive A-Y of asana names and Sanskrit terms (as there is no Z in Sanskrit). This interactive text includes more than 200 asanas with illustrated yoga postures and 300 Sanskrit definitions and pronunciations.
#10 Yoga Teacher’s Toolbox by Joseph Le Page and Lilian Le Page
This is an awesome resource for yoga teachers. The Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox is detailed and comes with colorful illustrations that interweave multiple aspects of yoga.
The Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox contains 90 colorfully illustrated and laminated cards in a vinyl binder. These cards are designed to support your Yoga teaching and practice by showing how important elements of yoga physiology, psychology, and philosophy relate to the practice of the postures for healing and transformation.
Among the tools you’ll find inside:
- Key poses organized into color-coded groups with complete instructions
- Clear illustrations of the poses, with modifications and variations
- A warm-up section laying the foundation for the postures
- Clear descriptions and illustrations of Yoga physiology for each pose, including Koshas, Chakras, Prana Vayus, and Ayurveda
- The main benefits and contraindications for each pose
- Affirmations to integrate the essential qualities of the poses.
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