12 Essential Yoga Books to Inspire You and Your Yoga Practice

Best Yoga Books - Our Favorite Books on Yoga

 

Every yogi has a story of how a yoga book completely transformed their yoga practice. Many have more than one. If you have been practicing yoga for a few years or more, perhaps you can relate to this. A shift in perspective, a new way of looking at things or a different way of practicing can alter your experience on your mat and in your life, enough that you feel somewhat different – more inspired, lighter… dare I say enlightened?
 
All of the yoga books below have that potential. Each one grabs you in a different way and teaches you something new about yourself, about yoga and about life. We hope that this guide will help you choose the book that is ideal for you at this moment, or will help you choose the perfect book for a friend, colleague or family member who also loves yoga.
 
We have divided them into 3 categories: Yoga Poses, Practice and Philosophy (6 books), Yoga and Functional Anatomy (2 books) and Meditation, Psychology and Transformation (4 books). For each book we include a brief but detailed description, then complete each review with the reasons why you may want to buy, or not buy, this book. Let us know if you have any that you would like to recommend or if you have any questions or feedback, by posting below.   

Yoga Poses, Practice and Philosophy

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

Yoga - The Spirit and Practice of Moving into StillnessErich Schiffmann takes a unique approach to yoga practice that may shift the way that you do yoga. Schooled in the Iyengar and Desikachar approaches, Schiffmann has a uniquely gentle, transformative approach to alignment and body awareness. His easy-to-follow yoga pose tutorials, yoga sequences and perspective on yoga practice help you stay centered in your practice and calm and mindful in your life. He covers meditation, pranayama, the essence of yoga practice, lines of energy and asanas to create a wonderfully comprehensive book on yoga.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to explore different approaches to doing yoga
  • You want to learn about being more sensitive when doing yoga
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You don’t mind simple, black and white photos

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • All you want is a guide to doing asanas
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You feel the way you do yoga now is fine
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to purchase Yoga: The Spirit and Practise of Moving Through Stillness on Amazon

 

Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers

Insight YogaBeautifully laid out, this synthesis of wisdom traditions is filled with a generous amount of information, photos and insights. Sarah's description of meridian theory and how it so beautifully connects with yoga practice is unique and refreshing. The book's main focus is on yin yoga, and Sarah offers a number of yoga sequences that are designed to pressurize certain meridians and help heal specific organs, while dividing each yoga practice into a long and short version so you can more easily adapt them to your schedule. She completes this wonderfully written book with seated pranayama practices, basic Buddha dharma and suggested mindfulness meditations.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You particularly enjoy yin yoga
  • You would like to learn how to compress meridians using yoga
  • You would like to learn how to help heal certain organs using yoga
  • You like suggestions for yoga sessions, split into short and long options
  • You appreciate simple explanations and photos (black and white)

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You are looking for hatha, restorative or vinyasa yoga sequences
  • You don’t need to learn about how yoga relates to the energy systems
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to purchase Insight Yoga from Amazon

 

Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit - A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi

Yoga Mind Body and SpiritMany students find Donna Farhi’s Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit to be an invaluable part of their yoga journey. Donna provides a way to experience yoga in a more complete way, allowing the asanas to come to life through ‘seven moving principles’: namely breathe, yield, radiate, center, support, align and engage. With an impressive section on the mechanics of movement, beautiful photos (including what not to do) and yoga pose sections divided into standing poses, seated poses, back bends, arm balances, restorative poses and yoga breathing practices, Donna’s Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit will teach you so much about the practice of yoga, whether you are a student or an instructor.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to explore different approaches to doing yoga
  • You like to learn about yoga philosophy and how they apply to practice
  • You enjoy learning about the body’s systems
  • You are looking for a comprehensive guide to yoga poses
  • You like to learn about pose sequencing and creating themes in your practice
  • You don’t mind simple, black and white photos

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t want a guide to doing asanas
  • You don’t like learning new approaches to yoga practice
  • You prefer a book that focuses mostly on philosophy, not asanas
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to puchase Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit from Amazon


The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown

The Yoga BibleFeaturing over 170 yoga postures, this book is an illustrated, step-by-step guide to achieving each posture, including how to move into the pose, the gaze, build-up poses, counter poses, how to lighten the pose and its effects on the body and mind. The Yoga Bible also has a general introduction to yoga, including what yoga is, some yoga philosophy, common styles and suggestions around getting the best out of your practice. You could say that this is the best comprehensive yoga pocket book that exists – although, you need a very big pocket to fit it in!

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You would benefit from a book that summarizes yoga and yoga poses
  • You would benefit from a step-by-step guide to move into each pose
  • You find you learn better when there are good photos to look at
  • You would like to have a yoga reference book that is easy to carry around
  • You would appreciate information that is well written and succinct
  • You want a book with color photos

 
Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You prefer more information on alignment within the poses
  • You are looking for a book that shows pose modifications or sequencing
  • You wouldn’t find a large pocket book to be useful
  • You don’t like books that don’t stay open

Click here to purchase The Yoga Bible from Amazon

 

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

Light on YogaThis classic yoga manual by BKS Iyengar is a comprehensive and detailed book on yoga philosophy, bandhas, kriyas, pranayama and a step-by-step guide for each asana. Written by someone who many consider to be a yoga master, it has an ancient feel to it, as though the concepts have been carried through from yoga's origins. The images are even slightly grainy. The poses progress through the book from beginner to advanced and finish with yoga courses and curative asanas for various diseases.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You are looking for a detailed, comprehensive guide to yoga
  • You would benefit from a step-by-step guide to move into each pose
  • You are ok with black and white photos that don’t look professional
  • You would like to learn more about yoga philosophy, bandhas and kriyas
  • You value a book that is written by someone who is considered a master

 
Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You want beautiful, glossy, color photos
  • You are looking for a book that shows pose modifications
  • You want a brief summary of yoga rather than something that goes into detail

Click here to purchase Light on Yoga from Amazon

 
Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice with Baron Baptiste

Perfectly ImperfectBaron Baptiste is a wonderfully vibrant, down-to-earth yoga instructor who honors both the light and serious sides of yoga practice in this wonderful book on yoga. It’s inspirational feel throughout engages the reader and Baron’s bare bones approach to yoga makes it relevant to everyone, no matter where you are in your practice. Baron will help you see your practice differently, discover how your experience on the mat relates to your life overall and help you feel more empowered by giving you practical tools that you can put into action in your daily practice.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to look more deeply into your experience within a yoga pose
  • You like to learn how to apply yoga to your daily life
  • You enjoy learning practical, meaningful insights into practice and your life
  • You enjoy yoga books that are short and sweet, sincere and down to earth

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You prefer a book that goes into more depth with philosophy and practice
  • You prefer a book that lists poses in a structured way, with detailed guidance
  • You aren’t interested in inner exploration

Click here to purchase Perfectly Imperfect from Amazon

 

Yoga and Functional Anatomy

Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers by David Keil

Functional Anatomy of YogaUnderstanding functional anatomy has the potential of transforming not only your practice, but your relationship to your body. This is by far the most impressive guide to functional anatomy and yoga that I have seen to date. David's unique approach makes learning about anatomy easy for anyone, while completely satisfying anatomy geeks who love to learn all they can about muscles and bones. The manual begins with basic principles of functional anatomy, then helps you understand how they work within many of the yoga asanas.  David's descriptions allow you to feel what he’s saying in your own body. There is so much to learn from this book that it could very well be your go-to yoga anatomy reference manual for years to come.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You love learning about your body, how you move and why
  • You enjoy learning about anatomy
  • You like high quality, color photos and illustrations
  • You are an instructor and want to teach with a stronger focus on anatomy
  • You are experiencing problems and would like to try to understand why

 
Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t like learning about anatomy
  • You aren’t interested in learning about how your body works

Click here to purchase the Functional Anatomy of Yoga from Amazon

 
Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners by H. David Coulter

Anatomy of Hatha YogaH. David Coulter's Anatomy of Hatha Yoga is possibly the most comprehensive yoga anatomy book that exists. It reads, at times, like an anatomy or physiology text book, moving through an impressive detailed analysis of movement and posture, breathing and abdominopelvic exercises before taking that same approach to analyze standing poses, backbending poses, forward bending postures, twisting postures, headstand, shoulderstand and finishing with relaxation and meditation. It's a thick book (almost 600 pages) and extremely dense with information, which is guaranteed to satisfy the most dedicated anatomy nerd. Although it definitely wouldn't be considered an easy read, it is, for the most part, surprisingly accessible for the average person.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You love learning about anatomy
  • You love learning about your body, how you move and why
  • You like books with black and white illustrations and photos
  • You are an instructor and want to teach with a stronger focus on anatomy

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You do not enjoy reading about anatomy and physiology
  • You aren’t interested in learning about how your body works
  • You would prefer an anatomy book that doesn't read like a text book
  • You would prefer color photos

Click here to purchase Anatomy of Hatha Yoga from Amazon

 

Meditation, Psychology and Yoga Philosophy

Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith

Eastern Body Western MindAnodea Judith has a knack for writing about chakras and psychology in plain language that anyone can understand. Eastern Body, Western Mind is no exception – it’s wonderfully written and provides countless thoughtful moments and epiphanies. It is not just a book to read, it is a ‘workbook’ for healing the soul’s wounds that have accumulated over a lifetime and an attempt to teach you how to live in a healthier, more balanced and self-loving way.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You would like help with feeling unstuck, unmotivated or depressed
  • You would like to better understand your psyche and belief system
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You seek deeper spiritual meaning

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t feel the need to better understand your psyche and belief system
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You don’t want a book that blends eastern philosophy and western medicine

Click here to purchase Eastern Body Western Mind from Amazon

 

Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates

Meditations from the MatMeditations from the Mat offers 365 daily meditations that help integrate mindfulness into everyday life. Each day's reflection begins with a thought-provoking quote and then explores one intriguing aspect of yoga philosophy. Gates weaves stories of his own remarkable healing and growth with the yoga sutras of Patanjali, and provides illuminating and moving explanations of how yoga teachings apply to real-life situations. Whether read in the morning to set the tone for the day, during yoga, or at the end of the day, Meditations from the Mat will support and enhance anyone’s yoga journey.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You enjoy daily, thought-provoking quotes or stories
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You seek deeper spiritual meaning
  • You would like to be more mindful

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t like to read daily quotes or short stories
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You don’t care about being more mindful

Click here to purchase Meditations from the Mat from Amazon

 

A Vessel of Blessing: Practical Guidance for Teachers Who Touch the Spirit in Yoga Practice by Arlene Bjork

A Vessel of BlessingThis book is a personal reflection on the life and philosophy of one of the most talented teachers of our time. Arlene Bjork had a way of inspiring and guiding her students to explore the deeper truths and aspects of yoga, while offering true insight into how to incorporate yoga in all aspects of your life and how a regular practice will enhance your experience of living. If you are a teacher, you will learn to make a more profound connection with your students, one that will manifest both on and off the mat. In addition, it offers a personable interpretation of all the aspects of yoga philosophy that often seem inaccessible to most practitioners.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You are a yoga teacher looking to teach more than just the poses
  • You want to understand how to live your yoga
  • You would benefit from a relatable explanation of the limbs of yoga

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You are only interested in the physical side of yoga
  • You are not interested in teaching yoga to others
  • You are not interested in applications of yoga philosophy

Click here to purchase A Vessel of Blessing from Amazon

 

A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life with Jack Kornfield

A Path With HeartJack Kornfield’s popular ‘A Path with Heart’ is both an introduction to Buddhist practice as well as an easy to follow guide to meditation, the process of inner transformation and the integration of a spiritual practice into a western way of life. Jack Kornfield is a spiritual teacher, psychologist and meditation master who approaches difficult issues like addiction, psychological and emotional healing and relationship issues with warmth, grace and compassion. He fills this book with practical techniques, guided meditations, stories and other gems of wisdom that can help ease your journey on your life path.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to learn about yourself
  • You would like to try to feel better using meditation
  • You enjoy reading about Buddhist philosophy
  • You enjoy trying practical techniques in meditation and in your daily life

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t want to read about buddhist philosophy
  • You don’t want a book that focusses mostly on practical meditation techniques
  • You aren’t interested in inner exploration

Click here to purchase A Path with Heart from Amazon 


That completes our review of some of our favorite books on yoga. Of course, there are thousands to choose from and you may have your own favorites so let us know what books have inspired you and your yoga practice by commenting below. 

Namaste!

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