10 Yoga Books That Belong in Every Yogi's Library

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Every yoga lover has her favorite books. They're the ones that inform, inspire, and educate us on our favorite subject. Ask any yoga expert and you'll get a different selection.

For my list, you'll find the reference books that I find myself turning to over and over. It also includes the yoga memoirs that are hard to put down, the photography that makes jaws drop, and the fascinating history of how we came to practice yoga the way we do in the 21st century. 

Light on Yoga

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Penguin Random House

B.K.S. Iyengar's classic 1966 book is still the gold standard for its encyclopedic illustration of hundreds of yoga poses and many breathing techniques. Without a doubt, "Light on Yoga" is must-have for any yoga practitioner's library. 

Though it's not the flashiest book, it is very powerful. The subtitle is "The Bible of Modern Yoga" and that is no stretch. The information and inspiration you find here can easily blow any yogi away.

Yoga The Iyengar Way

Yoga: The Iyengar Way
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Many yogis consider this a complement to Iyengar's "Light on Yoga." Key poses are covered and the large color photographs and explicit alignment points make it a more accessible companion volume. The authors, Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta, have impeccable Iyengar credentials.

"Yoga: The Iyengar Way" was written in 1990 and the photos may look a little dated because of the unitards. However, they're almost preferable to the "sexy" photos so often seen in more recent books. 

Yoga Anatomy

Review - Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The unique strength of "Yoga Anatomy" by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews is its illustrations. Rendered through a process of photography, medical illustration, and digital media, each pose is shown from the inside out with the pertinent anatomy highlighted. 

The muscular skeletal actions of the body in each pose are also described in detail and Kaminoff's expertise on the diaphragm and breathing are extremely valuable. It's a book many instructors and students will find useful for everyday reference.

Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses

Poser by Claire Dederer
Courtesy of Amazon.com

An outstanding entry in the increasingly popular yoga memoir genre, this book sets itself apart with truly good writing. In it, author Claire Dederer takes readers on her yoga journey with a book that goes beyond the physical benefits of yoga.

The author discovered yoga while dealing with a back injury and breastfeeding. Her story is universal, though mothers who have struggled with finding balance in their lives after having children will find it particularly inspirational. (Hint: yoga helps.)

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body by Mark Singleton
Courtesy of Oxford University Press

"Yoga Body" is a fascinating look by scholar Mark Singleton into the history of yoga asana. This book is a real game changer, taking everything you thought you knew about yoga's roots in ancient India and turning it on its ear. You'll find yourself questioning a lot of the conventional wisdom you hear in yoga classes after reading this one. 

Cool Yoga Tricks

Cool Yoga Tricks by Miriam Austin
Courtesy of Amazon.com

"Cool Yoga Tricks" by Miriam Austin is perfect for a beginner who wants to practice at home. It offers creative adaptations of many poses using props such as chairs, blocks, blankets, and straps.

Instead of showing super flexible advanced yogis in gravity-defying poses, it offers practical advice for real people. It is also ideal for yoga teachers because it is full of ideas students will love.

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful

Bountiful. Beautiful, Blissful
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is a leading Kundalini yoga teacher who is especially known for her prenatal yoga classes. The yoga in "Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful" is gentle, but the anecdotes and advice for pregnant women are unique in the sea of pregnancy books. It is empowering for anyone contemplating natural childbirth.

Yoga

Yoga by Linda Sparrowe
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This beautifully photographed coffee-table style book features some of yoga's leading teachers of the 1990's. The list includes icons like Rodney Yee, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Richard Freeman, and Patricia Walden. Author Linda Sparrowe offers instructional notes and the black and white images by David Martinez are very impressive.

"Yoga" was first published in 2002, then again in 2008. It's also important to know that it's available in hardcover and paperback, so be sure you know what you're buying with this one. The prices vary greatly.

Hell-Bent

Hell Bent by Benjamin Lorr
Courtesy of Amazon

The subtitle of Benjamin Lorr's book says it all: "Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga." Well, it almost says it all because this is really a book about Bikram yoga from a good writer with a great sense of humor. If you're looking for something a little more entertaining than the average yoga book, "Hell-Bent" is perfect.

The Goddess Pose

The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg
Alfred A Knopf

"The Goddess Pose" is a fascinating look at how yoga made its way into the mainstream culture of the West. Author Michelle Goldberg does this through the biography of Indra Devi, one of the first people to teach postural yoga in the United States. Your understanding of modern yoga is not complete without knowing the significance of Devi's influence.

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