7 Essential Books for Your Yoga Journey
Written by Madalina Voiculet
Yoga is much more than asana. It is breathing, meditation, self-awareness, self- inquire and in the end… self-discovery. During my yoga journey, I have read many books and I would like to share with you the ones that really made an impact on my practice and self-development.
1) The Tree of Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar
This book is the perfect intro to yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the greatest yoga teachers and in this book he offers advice on how to take care of your health, daily life, family, love, death and faith. Through his guidance, you might discover a long, healthy and happy life. Iyengar shares in this book essays that are based on his personal experience and introduces you to yoga, beyond asanas.
Either you are a yoga teacher or practitioner or you are just new to yoga, The Tree of Yoga integrates philosophy, spirituality and as well the practice of yoga into everyday living. There is a beautiful analogy in the book regarding the eight limbs of yoga: yama as the roots, niyama as the trunk, asanas ass branches, pranayama as leaves, pratyahara as the bark, dharana as the sap of the tree, Dhyana as the flowers and lastly samadhi as the fruit.
“In the first two seconds, Patañjali states that when the mind calms down, the self rests in his abode. If it was as simple as that, Patañjali could well have ended up there. However, it extends these two seconds with another one hundred and ninety-four in which he defines the techniques for achieving that state. He has begun by saying that when the mind is calm, the self rests in his abode. But when the mind is not calm, when the mind wanders, when the mind is drawn to the external objects, the self goes behind the mind and, since it follows the mind, it cannot rest in its abode.”
At the beginning of the book, you can find a glossary explaining Sanskrit words in English.
2) Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyandanda Saraswati
Curious about the asanas? Wanna deepen your knowledge and discover more yoga poses? What about the breath? Do you want to learn different breathing techniques? Curious to understand the different holding of the fingers that teachers do in the class, known as mudras? What about bandha – what is the teacher referring to when they say, “Activate the mula bandha?” – what is the benefit of it?
If you want to know about all these, you found the right book. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyandanda Saraswati is recognized internationally as one of the most systematic yoga manuals available today. The book includes clear illustration on yoga poses and as well details on chakra awareness.
Here it is a quote from the book that I really like: “The mind & body are not separate entities. The gross form of the mind is the body & the subtle form of the body is the mind. The practice of asana integrates & harmonizes the two. Both the body & the mind harbor tensions or knots. Every mental knot has a corresponding physical, muscular knot & vice versa. The aim of asana is to release these knots. Asana release mental tensions by dealing with them on the physical level, acting somato-psychically, through the body to the mind.”
3) The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda
If you are interested in yoga philosophy, this is the book for you. The Yoga sustras are a complete manual for the study and practice of yoga. The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life. There are different translations of the sutras, however this is my favorite. The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters. In this classic context, Sri Swamii offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony. Sri Swami Satchidananda shares his practice, down to earth advice on mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony in life, through applying the ancient, yet timeless techniques of Raja Yoga. As a big advantage, if you are interested in Sanskrit, you can find a guide to Sanskrit pronunciation. The book is divided in four:
- Samadhi Pada – Portion of contemplation. This part covers the eight limbs of yoga and the meaning of yoga known as well as Raja Yoga.
- Sadhana Pada – Portion of Practice. This part of the book relates to Kriya Yoga. What is Kriya yoga? Yogananda is describing it as a combination of mantras and breathing.
- Vibhuti Pada – Portion of Accomplishments. This part of the book talks about the last three limbs of Raja Yoga – dharana, Dhyana and samadhi.
- Kaivalya Pada – Portion of Absoluteness. This part of the book talks about absoluteness that can be reached with the practice of yoga.
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
4) Yoni Shakti: A Woman’s Guide to Power and Freedom Through Yoga and Tantra by Uma Dinsmore
This book connects you with your femininity, with your Source of Power. A special book that combines real life stories with radical feminism, poetic meditations with guided yoga practices, and historical explorations with philosophical debates. This book empowers women in the yoga practice and teaches women to connect with their intuition.
What is the book offering?
- Comprehensive history section covering women’s contribution to hatha yoga
- Goddess- inspired section guiding a woman from her first period to postmenopause
- Illumination personal life story and experience from hundreds of women
- Guided yoga nidra practices – AMAZING!
- Instructions for womb friendly asanas and pranayama practices, including restorative yoga for every part of a woman’s life and menstrual cycle.
This book brings together womb yoga, tantra and feminism in a non-intimidating way. A book that gives you power and connects you with your femininity.
5) Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater
“We work very hard in our lives, and while we may sleep, we rarely take time to relax. Restorative yoga poses help us learn to rest deeply and completely.” – Judith Hanson Lasater
Can you relate to this?
We all live in a stressful world: we worry too much, we have too many things to do, too many responsibilities. We forget to connect with ourselves and we don’t know anymore how to relax. If you are new to restorative yoga or if you want to deepen your knowledge, this is the book for you.
Whether you have five minutes or an hour, taking time out of each day to relax and renew is essential to living well. This book presents nurturing physical postures and breathing techniques called restorative yoga. When practiced regularly, they will help you heal the effects of chronic stress, recover from illness or injury, balance energy, and quiet the mind.
With clear instructions and photographs, Relax and Renew gently guides the experienced practitioner and enthusiastic beginner—regardless of age, flexibility, or strength—in techniques that will ease your way through this hectic world. Judith Lasater draws from decades of experience to provide readers with:
- A general restorative sequence
- Programs for back pain, headaches, insomnia, jet lag, and breathing problems
- Guidance for women during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
- Routines for when time is limited, including one for the office
- Practical suggestions that help you prevent stress and live more fully in the present moment
6) Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza
One of my favorite books – no matter if you practice yoga or not.
Becoming Supernatural touches on some of the most profound scientific information with ancient wisdom to show how people like you and me can experience a more mystical life.
You will learn that we are, quite literally supernatural by nature if given the proper knowledge and instruction, and when we learn how to apply that information through various meditations, we should experience a greater expression of our creative abilities; that we have the capacity to tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and receive more orderly coherent streams of consciousness and energy; that we can intentionally change our brain chemistry to initiate profoundly mystical transcendental experiences; and how, if we do this enough times, we can develop the skill of creating a more efficient, balanced, healthy body, a more unlimited mind, and greater access to the realms of spiritual truth.
The book includes information about the 7 energy centers of chakras – what are these centers and how we can balance them.
How much do you know about pineal gland and its role in accessing mystical realms of reality?
Give it a shot. Take your time to read this book. It is not just a book that you read, you need to practice while reading. Dispenza is sharing different type of exercise that can be done in order to recondition the body with a new mind.
“The only way we can change our lives is to change our energy — to change the electromagnetic field we are constantly broadcasting. In other words, to change our state of being, we have to change how we think and how we feel.”
7) The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
My favorite book ever! This book is an amazing tool to explore the inner space, to start your life to the inward journey. This book transform my relationship with myself and around me. Are you wondering if you can change your habitual thoughts and emotions? How can you free yourself from limitations and discover inner peace and serenity?
By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
Copublished with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being.
My favorite quote:
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
What about you? Share with me your favorite books and why did you like them!