I often get asked about readings and resources to support my students in their yoga journeys. Here are a few suggestions:
The Yoga Sutras
This would be my most essential read for any yogi. Sutra means thread, or threading, so don’t be dispirited if these short statements don’t reveal themselves to you instantly. They are meant to be thought about, practiced and discussed. Sometimes, you can get versions with helpful commentaries. My favourites are:
- ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Swami Satchidananda (it is very accessible and quite funny)
- ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Edwin Bryant (this one is very erudite, with lots of references)
- ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Chip Hartranft (this is a beautiful translation and commentary, brief and memorable, but it does not have the Sanskrit original, which I like)
My philosophy teacher also recommends:
- ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’ by Rama Prasada
- ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Mukunda Stiles
The Bhagavad Gita
A must read for any yogi, this book goes deep into what yoga is (although not into how it is practiced).
- ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ by Eknath Easwaran is very easy to read and has commentary at the beginning of each chapter.
- ‘Srimad Bhagavad Gita’ by Ramesh Menon has the original Sankrit (useful if you chant or want to learn) and a nice, vivid translation.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
This is the classic technical manuals of yoga .Not an easy book, though! The versions I prefer are:
- ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ by Swami Muktibodhananda
- ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Translation with Notes from Krishnamacharya’ by A. G. Mohan and Ganesh Mohan.
Another beautiful practical manual on asana and pranayama. David Garrigues recommends this translation (in which you also get the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Shiva Samhita):
- ‘The Forceful Yoga: Being the translation of Hathayoga-Pradipika, Gheranda-Samhita and Siva-Samhita’ by Pancham Sinh, Rai Bahadur Shrisha Chandra Vasu.
Books about yoga
- ‘The Great Work Of Your Life’ by Stephen Cope
- ‘Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living’ by Donna Farhi
Ashtanga Yoga asana manuals
- ‘Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual’ by David Swenson: my favourite! It has a ring binder format, so it is easy to practice with and it also contains David’s short forms, for when you only have 15, 30 or 45 minutes.
- ‘Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy’ by Gregor Maehle: This is a more detailed, very well instructed and for those who want to delve deeper. It also contains a very commentary on the Sutras.
- ‘Ashtanga Yoga – The Intermediate Series: Anatomy and Mythology’ (Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series)by Gregor Maehle: If you are exploring second series, the extensive detail in this manual will help. The commentary goes onto the reasons for the names of the poses and what we are meant to embody. I love it.
Books about pranayama
- ‘Science of Breath: A Practical Guide’by Swami Rama Rudolph Ballentine & Alan Hymes: A short, powerful introduction, detailing the benefits of pranayama from a scientific and yogis point of view.
- ‘Pranayama: the Breath of Yoga’ by Gregor Maehle is extraordinarily clear but I would not recommend it unless you practice regularly with a teacher.