Since finishing yoga teacher training at Joy Yoga a few months ago, I’ve been soaking in all of the information we learned and letting it settle. We read so many good yoga books leading up to and going through training. Here are a few yoga book reviews from my yoga journey. The theme of these books is different types of yoga practices that are popular in the West, but they’re by no means comprehensive!
Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Iyengar’s Light on Yoga is in pretty much every yogi’s library. It’s a great book! Iyengar was one of the most influential yogis in the migration of yoga to the West. He’s written quite a few books, and this is a great one to start with. Many nuances of the poses don’t align with the way the poses are taught in most of the contemporary Western yoga classes I go to, because Eastern bodies and Western bodies develop different posture habits. For example, we tend to sit in chairs all day and slump. This creates a tight lower back and hamstring. To counter this, bend your knees in downward dog. In Indian culture, they sit cross legged more often, so they don’t have the same lower back and hamstring issues. So, you’ll see Iyengar with straight legs in many of the poses in this book.
Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest
Interested in breakthrough practices to heal the body and ignite the spirit? Ana Forrest may be for you. Written by the founder of Forrest Yoga, Ana Forrest’s book is part memoir and part yoga methodology. I first discovered Forrest Yoga at Yoga One, where she would often teach workshops. Forrest Yoga didn’t strike me as being that different from the other yoga practices I was exploring at the time. It does combine eastern, Native American, and the physical practice in a beneficial way that counters how our bodies move in modern American daily life. I loved the memoir aspect of Fierce Medicine. Ana Forrest weaves her tumultuous life into the asana practice with a fire that could be described as tapas, the fire that burns away resistance.
Journey Into Power by Baron Baptiste
Written by the founder of Power Yoga, Journey Into Power is one of the quintessential books on Power Yoga. I came into Baron Baptiste’s writings when I was going to Yoga One and Big Yoga, two studios in Houston that both offer Power Yoga classes. Many people read 40 Days to a Personal Revolution first, the companion to a popular Baptiste program where you do yoga and eat well for 40 days in a row. So many yoga studios will do this program together as a group. It’s a really fun way to engage with the yoga community near you. Since I like a structured practice and other people, I found the 40 Days to be a really great introduction to Power Yoga through staying consistent for 40 days. Journey Into Power covers many similar concepts, but it’s more thorough.
The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar
Oh, the elusive personal practice. Is it elusive, though? Journal, meditate, practice, stay consistent. I read The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice just before beginning yoga teacher training. Think of this book as the one for people who practice yoga at home alone, or for introverts in a Vinyasa yoga studio. In The Heart of Yoga, Desikachar outlines the underlying philosophy of yoga in this book, and there’s even a copy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali at the end. Desikachar is the son of Krishnamacharya, the well-known yoga master who encouraged the spread of yoga to the West. The spine is one of the main focuses of his teaching.
Yoga Sequencing by Mark Stephens
Looking for ideas for your next yoga class or personal home practice? Mark Stephens’ Yoga Sequencing book is so exciting! He has illustrated so many good poses, themes, and transitions. Now that I live kind of far away from the city and everything there is to do in it, I find it’s more convenient to practice more at home. When I’m looking for new ideas about how to go through a pose or even just a new sequence to try, I find myself going to this book.
The more I read about yoga, the more there is to read about yoga (and yoga book reviews to leave), which is pretty awesome. It does take some time to explore the physical practice alongside the philosophical – I’d say it takes at least 6 months of regular practice to have a really good understanding of a particular type of movement and how regular practice will affect your body. I’d love to explore other popular types of yoga, especially Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Kundalini. It all looks so awesome.
Do you have any favorite yoga books? Share in the comments below – I’m itching to read them!