Five Books to Help You Kickstart Your Yoga Practice

From the outside, the practice of Yoga can seem intimidating. Pictures of slim women in Lycra, or thoughts of uncomfortably hot rooms full of sweating strangers could be enough to frighten anyone off. Or, looking at the practice from a different angle, the image of a painfully thin ascetic sitting meditating for hours might pop into one’s head.

Once the initial fear of the unknown is conquered, however, and you start off with your first few classes, you may find yourself suddenly ravenous for all things yoga. We’ve compiled a short and sweet list of some of the most interesting, mind-expanding, and fulfilling books that can help fuel a new practice.

None of these books focus on the asanas, or postures. In the beginning, it’s often better to learn and develop the physical portion of your practice with a skilled teacher. Let these books on yoga feed your spirit and inform your mind. Plus, a bonus beach towel read when you need a nice fiction break.

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali

“For those who have an intense urge for Spirit and wisdom, it sits near them, waiting.” ~ Patanjali

Arguably the most referenced, well-known and potentially enlightening books on the science and philosophy of Yoga. While mentions of the asanas and other practices can be found in older texts, Patanjali brought together the foundations of classical Yoga into one place.

Written in the form of sutras, or aphorisms, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras deserve a fair dose of contemplation. I recommend starting off with one or two sutras, and using them as a basis for meditation in order to allow the full potential of these powerful words to unfold.

Meditations From the Mat by Rolf Gates

“The real payoff of a yoga pracmeditations from the mattice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.” ~ Rolf Gates

Meditations from the Mat is ideal for getting your daily dose of inspiration. Gates, a former US Airborne Ranger and alcoholic, has inspired millions with these 365 passages written about yoga, yogic philosophy, and living a virtuous life.

The book is organized as a kind of overview of the Yoga Sutras; Gates takes several entries to look at the different Yamas and Niyamas, and how they apply to experiences he’s had, and what he’s learned from these experiences.

Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron

living beautifully yoga book“If your mind is expansive and unfettered, you will find yourself in a more accommodating world, a place that’s endlessly interesting and alive. That quality isn’t inherent in the place but in your state of mind.” ~ Pema Chodron

Living Beautifully isn’t specifically about yoga, but the teachings within this slender volume certainly apply to the practice. Chodron explored the Three Commitments, a traditional Buddhist practice, with a tone that is at once humorous, gentle, accepting, and warm.

The premise here is that life as a human is fundamentally uncertain. We change, the environment changes, the people around us change, and from day-to-day our experience on the mat will change. Instead of fighting against that change, the goal is to embrace it, find the beauty in it, and as a result move through the world with a kinder and ultimately more fulfilling approach to life.

Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi

“Through daily yoga practice we can become present to our own fundamental goodness, and the goodess of others.” ~ Donna Farhi

bringing-yoga-to-lifeOne of my favorite books about yoga, hands down. Farhi takes a very down to earth, no-nonsense tone in this book, while at the same time tackling the often heady subject of the interweaving of yoga, spirituality, and how to apply both of these to daily life.

Bringing Yoga to Life is worth reading over and over, as the lessons and guidance within apply differently as you progress in your practice and expansion.

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards by William J. Broad

“Yoga is a huge enterprise, and I wish the medical community devoted more time and energy to its study.” ~ William J. Broad

If you’re looking to dig in to more of the science and statistics behind yoga, this is a great book. Broad looks into the risks yoga can pose to practitioners (injuries such as strained muscles, herniated discs, and stroke), the somewhat dubious claims sometimes posed by yoga marketers, as well as identifying some of the very real benefits of a regular yoga practice.

The Science of Yoga was met with a lot of criticism and controversy, which I think is unfortunate. While there are points Broad makes that run counter to what many practitioners and those in the yoga industry like to claim, I think it makes it that much more important to read.

Denying facts and looking away from safe practices because they don’t fit into a preconception runs counter to the philosophy of Yoga: asteya (nonharm), satya (truth), and aparigraha (non grasping), all urge us to stay open to new information.

Bonus Fiction: Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman

“There’s a way I feel sometimes when I’m doing yoga. It’s a feeling—just for a moment—that I belong somewhere, even if it’s just inside my own skin.” ~ Anne Cushman

Enlightenment for Idiots is definitely on the lighter side. A dash of chick-lit, a dash of yoga, a dash of travelogue, this is the perfect book for summer reading, or drifting off to sleep. This fun read follows the main character through her travels to India, running away from Mr. Wrong while trying to fulfill a book contract on enlightenment.

Learning and Expanding

These are just a few of the vast wealth of books about yoga and philosophy available out there. I hope this list inspires you to deepen your understanding of all things yoga. In other words, your understanding of all things Life!

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get the latest updates straight in your inbox!

Please share, it really helps! :) <3

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Latest for Members

You May Like

7 Books to Help Light Up Your Path

"What fascinates me is that hardly anyone is wondering what we're actually doing on this planet. Most accepted the work-eat-entertainment -sleep cycle as life...

Metamorphosis: Can One Really Love a Soul?

A Gist of the Metamorphosis Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, begins with a young man, Gregor Samsa, in bed waking up as a bug, unable to get...

9 Quotes from the Tao of Pooh to Assist Life’s Flow

There are several children’s classic books like Cinderalla, 3 Billy Goats Gruff, Winnie the Pooh, Ugly Duckling etc., that teach us about human nature,...

Seven Life-changing Spiritual Books Written by Women

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So...

Five Books to Help You Kickstart Your Yoga Practice

From the outside, the practice of Yoga can seem intimidating. Pictures of slim women in Lycra, or thoughts of uncomfortably hot rooms full of...

Utilizing the Niyamas as a Path for Personal Growth

The second limb of Yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the practice of Niyamas, or personal observances. Where the Yamas are a series of...

For Members

Spider Medicine: The Magic Elixir of Storytelling

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of...

Four Theories About the Independent Consciousness of Thought

"The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts." ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations We all know that thinking good thoughts is a wise idea....

Going to the Depths of your Mind through Vipassana

Sometimes you need to be pushed to the edge to realign with your path. It had reached a stage where if I didn’t do...

How to Stop Micro-managing and Enable Healing?

"Ego says: Once everything falls into place I will feel peace. Spirit says: find peace and everything will fall into place." ~ Marianne Williamson If...

Three Linguistic Traps that Keep you Stuck

Language is a big part of the way we think. This is a great blessing as it allows us to simplify things, easily recall...

Confronting Our Subconscious Definitions to Rewrite Our Story

"When you hear things come out of your mouth or thoughts go through your head that sound like facts, you have to stop and...

Do You Lack the Courage to Change?

As you may know over the last few years I have written a few articles based on Childhood Trauma. What brought my childhood trauma...

4 Meditations for Raising the Vibrations of the Planet

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his...

Deep Diving into the Seven A’s of Healing

I recently had the chance to read Gabor Maté's When the Body Says No. Gabor Maté has decades of experience as a physicist, and...

Overcoming God: The Struggle Between Mortality and Immortality

“You are more than your thoughts, your body or your feelings. You are a swirling vortex of limitless potential who is here to shake...

5 Essentials Every Parent Should Know about Parenting

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The...

Understanding the Cyclic Patterns of Our Existence According to Rudolf Steiner – Part 2

The Sixth Cycle Ages 35 to 42: A Time of Challenge and Crises If I believe that I am what this world makes of me,...