21 Best Yoga Books for Beginners to Uplift Your Mind and Spirit
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This list is a comprehensive collection of the best yoga books.
There are two types of books on this list.
The first type of Yoga books teaches the physical moves of Yoga: how to perform the different poses. The second type of Yoga book is more spiritual in nature. These books teach the deeper philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of Yoga.
People who practice Yoga will love books that explain the physical side of Yoga. They will want ideas on how to reach and hold many of the poses they experience in Yoga classes.
The longer people practice the physical techniques of Yoga, the more they become interested in the spiritual side of Yoga.
This list has both types of Yoga books.
The spiritual Yoga books and the physical Yoga books. As well as a few books that touch on both the physical and the spiritual elements of Yoga.
Enjoy this list of the best yoga books!
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What You Will Learn
- Spiritual Yoga Books
- 1. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Stillness by Erich Schiffmann
- 2. Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind by Frank Jude Boccio
- 3. Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
- 4. Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind, and Heart by Gary Kraftsow
- 5. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater
- 6. Yoga Body and Mind Handbook: Easy Poses, Guided Meditations, Perfect Peace Wherever You Are by Jasmine Tarkeshi
- 7. Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit – A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi
- 8. Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer
- ‘Physical Yoga' Books
- 9. Yoga Anatomy-2nd Edition by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
- 10. The Key Muscles of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume I
- 11. The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys, Volume II
- 12. Anatomy for Vinyasa Flow and Standing Poses: Yoga Mat Companion 1
- 13. Anatomy for Hip Openers and Forward Bends: Yoga Mat Companion 2
- 14. Anatomy for Backbends and Twists: Yoga Mat Companion 3
- 15. Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques by Mark Stephens
- 16. The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
- 17. Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers by David Keil
- 18. Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners by H. David Coulter
- 19. Yoga for Beginners: 60 Basic Yoga Poses for Flexibility, Stress Relief, and Inner Peace by Susan Neal
- 20. The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga by Ray Long
- 21. Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton
Spiritual Yoga Books
Yoga is a physical journey. But it is also a mental practice. Yoga practitioners are able to work through emotional stress and psychological challenges. A while holding a few difficult poses.
The Yoga books in the spiritual section of this list are about gaining a deeper understanding of the mental benefits of Yoga. They do not focus on the physical moves of Yoga. Instead they highlight self-awareness and spiritual aspects of Yoga.
These spiritual books to help people understand yoga on a deeper level. These books help yoga practitioner them to open up their minds and lessen the burden on their hearts.
1. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Stillness by Erich Schiffmann
In this spiritual yoga guidebook, the reader is able to discover a path to inner peace using Hatha yoga. Using Yoga strategies created by author and world-renowned yoga expert Erich Shiffmann.
This excellent book offers easy-to-follow techniques that help people find inner peace and the beauty in life.
This Yoga book uses simple instruction and helpful illustrations. It shows the reader over one hundred poses and routines that geared toward all levels of ability. These moves help slow or reverse aging, increase strength, and tone the body. The complete program of meditation helps promote self-realization, decreases stress, and increase creativity.
This book shows that yoga's secrets of stillness and movement are available to the average practitioner. You do not need to be a Yogi to radiate positive energy and awaken joy. This system brings greater happiness and contentment to Yoga
This spiritual yoga book also offers tips for mindful breathing. And addresses how conscious stillness can help transform a negative perception to a positive one.
Readers have found that this book has helped them feel balanced, centered, flexible, and coordinated. While also becoming free from life's negativity.
This spiritual book is very approachable and easy to relate to. Many teachers have chosen to use this book in their yoga classes to help teach their students.
2. Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind by Frank Jude Boccio
This is a popular Yoga book, designed with both beginners and experts in mindfulness and Yoga in mind. The author introduces mindfulness yoga. This a new form of yoga that incorporates the Buddha's teachings into a traditional asana Yoga. Mindfulness Yoga also includes many other ideals of mindfulness.
Mindfulness Yoga focuses on the spiritual and emotional side of yoga. This aspect of Yoga is often overlooked in our culture. (Many people only considers the physical benefits of yoga to be important).
Unlike similar books, Mindfulness Yoga presents the two instructions as a single practice. This method not only makes the physical body healthier, but also frees the mind, spirit and awakens compassion.
This book appeals to anyone who has an interest in yoga, Buddhism, or meditation. It will help you to a way to bring these three separate ideas together into a harmonious whole.
The special lay-flat binding that this book comes in makes it very useful when practicing yoga of this book offers clear instructions of three complete mindfulness yoga sequences. It includes helpful pictures. And providesT detailed guidance for the reader's body, breath, and mind.
Readers have found that the special lay-flat bindng comes in handy when practicing yoga. The reader can reference the book throughout the yoga sequence to have the author “talk” them through the practice. The sequences does repeat some poses. But the written instructions lead readers to new understandings of the poses. This encourages growth through practice.
People who have even some Yoga experience benefit the most from this book. Seeing the Yoga postures in a new (and more spiritual) light, can be revolutionary for practitioners.
3. Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
This is a classic book on the philosophy and practice of yoga. It offers the reader a guide to attaining physical, mental, and spiritual well-being through practicing yoga. This is a great book for people of all skill levels.
This book is divided into three parts, with the first being an introduction to the practice and the history of yoga. The second part covers several yoga poses in great detail, including photographs of the correct forms. This second section also includes clear instructions to help perfect the poses, and explains the benefits and precautions associated with each pose. The third part of the book is dedicated to pranayama, which is a form of yogic breathing. It teaches the technique of pranayama, as well as its precautions, effects, and various types.
Many readers consider this book to be a “must-have” for yoga practitioners. Since its original publishing in 1966, it has been translated into 16 different languages in order to reach a wider audience. Readers are impressed with the detail and descriptions in this book that make it very easy to follow.
4. Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind, and Heart by Gary Kraftsow
Yoga is a very popular form of physical exercise in the Western world. But few people tend to talk about the emotions, mind, heart, and soul that go into the practice. The spiritual side seems to be relegated to the eastern practce of Yoga. But it is in the spiritual side where the real transformations are able to happen.
Yoga uses breathing techniques that help control energy levels. It has exercises to sharpen one's cognitive function. And meditative practices to help reduce stress and anxiety and increase self-awareness.
This book focuses on the emotional aspect of yoga. Helping people strengthen their entire mind, body, and spirit.
Some readers believe this to be one of the best books on yoga transformation. Kraftsow offers many tips that he learned from one of the most respected Indian yoga gurus.
Yoga for Transformation, is a simple and effective book that can make the reader's practice of yoga much more powerful.
5. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater
Living for Yoga teaches the reader that they do not need to embark upon a transformational journey to gain the benefits of yoga.
In this book the meaning of yoga is expanded. Lasater considers yoga to be a lifestyle. Much more than the familiar poses and breathing techniques. Yoga becomes a daily practice for living and wellness.
This book is inspired by the wisdom of the Yoga Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. It creates a course of practices to guide the reader in deepening their self-awareness. It can improve the readers their relationship with their family and friends. And their ability to be present in the world around them.
Readers have found this book to be both inspiring and practical. This is due to the author's extensive knowledge of the ancient traditions of yoga. Along with her life experiences being in a family and being a yoga practitioner and teacher.
Living for Yoga presents new view of the basics of yoga. It challenges the reader to find the spiritual side of life in the little things.
This thought-provoking book is not only a great tool to keep on hand to learn more about Yoga. But it also is a great motivational book that will make you desire to make Yoga a part of your daily lifestyle.
6. Yoga Body and Mind Handbook: Easy Poses, Guided Meditations, Perfect Peace Wherever You Are by Jasmine Tarkeshi
Yoga helps reduce stress, increase inner peace, and cultivate a greater sense of well-being. But how does one know if yoga is right for them? Jasmine Tarkeshi, one of America's most influential yoga teachers, has over 20 years of experience teaching yoga to people of all levels. She has learned through her experience that, with proper teaching, anyone can enjoy the benefits of yoga.
This book is written with the beginner in mind, and is aimed at giving an encouraging introduction to key yoga poses, breathing techniques, and mindful meditations. It is an easy-to-follow guide that offers the reader yoga routines (both short and long), include breathing techniques, posture instructions, and meditation guidance. She includes suggested modifications for the yoga poses she focuses on so people can ease their way into the true pose or do whatever is most comfortable for their bodies. The meditations offered in this book can be completed anywhere to help reduce stress and increase physical and mental health.
Readers appreciate the detailed instructions and clear illustrations of yoga techniques in this book, and its clear guide to postures and breathing exercises that help relieve physical and mental tension.
This book is well-organized and should be a staple in any beginner's library. People who have more experience with yoga will likely not gain much new knowledge from this book, but it is perfect for those who are just starting to get familiar with the practice.
7. Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit – A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi
This holistic guide to yoga is a user-friendly book with 240 clear illustrations to help instruct the reader. Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit sets forth the principles of yoga unlike similar books have in the past. This book integrates the teachings of all traditions and shows how practicing yoga is able to enhance the connections between one's mind, body, and spirit.
The author addresses the seven principles of movement that are the foundation for all human motion, and offers her readers exercises to help them understand how they can effectively achieve all yoga postures. The author also looks at yoga's 10 foundational rules and explains how to incorporate these into one's practice.
The author teaches the reader over 75 yoga poses in this book, with a picture and description to go along with each. This book is neatly arranged into groups, such as standing postures, sitting postures, arm poses, and breathing exercises, as well as a section for easy reference. At the beginning of each section, the author instructs readers to move through a few core poses before asking them to reflect on the way they physically feel while performing the pose. After addressing the core poses, she moves on to more complex postures while talking about different levels of ability. Readers have found that this book provides challenges and inspiration for students of all levels.
At first glance, the photos and illustrations in this book may seem a bit dated. However, closer examination reveals that the edge this book has over others is its combination of yoga's spiritual aspects with its physical components. One possible problem that beginners may have with this book is the author's use of yoga-specific language to describe poses involving movement between postures. But once this lingo is picked up, the book is easy for everyone to follow.
8. Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer
This national bestseller is written by Claire Dederer, who hesitantly took on yoga when trying to heal a back injury. Many people told her to try yoga, and after signing up for her first class, she was hooked.
For 10 years, the author practiced poses such as the triangle, wheel, and crow, and learned to love some poses while also developing feuds with others. During her journey, Dederer found herself getting to know the forces that shaped her generation. While she was hesitant to practice yoga at first, Dederer found that the more she practiced, the more the poses were able to test her fundamental ideas of what makes a good person, and the more they had her wanting more joy.
This book is unlike any other about yoga because, at its core, it is a book about life. The author uses witty and heartfelt writing that is both sharp and irreverent to help her readers. While readers enjoy Poser, some offer it a little less praise than others because they focus on the fact that this book is neither a yoga guide or a self-help book.
However, this book does contain elements of each, including passages on feminism, attachment parenting, and yoga's history throughout. In the end, most find the voice of this book to be unique and more than sufficient.
‘Physical Yoga' Books
These Yoga books are more focused on practicing yoga as a form of exercise.
While some of these books do go into the mental aspects of practicing yoga, they are more about the physical aspects. They detail yoga poses and explain to the reader exactly how to execute them. These books go into detail about which muscles are stretched during yoga, and exactly how to stretch them.
9. Yoga Anatomy-2nd Edition by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
This book includes asanas, vinyasas, colorful anatomical illustrations, and in-depth information, providing the reader with a deep understanding of the structures and principles of each movement, and of the practice itself.
It addresses breathing, inversions, and standing poses to show how specific muscles are affected by the movements of the joints. It also talks about how slightly changing a pose can increase or reduce its effectiveness, and how the entire body is fundamentally linked during this practice.
This is a great book for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike, and is an invaluable resource that allows the reader to see yoga poses in a new light. This book is considered by some to be the ultimate reference for yoga practitioners, teachers, and enthusiasts.
This insightful book teaches the reader so much about how the body works, and especially how muscles restrict different moves. Because the book addresses which muscle groups should be working during each pose, it has helped people correct their mistakes and push deeper into some poses, helping them avoid injury and get more out of their workout.
Ray Long Books
The following five books by Ray Long focus on perfecting the moves in your yoga practice.
These books are effective because they tell the reader every detail of each yoga pose. Describing how to start if you have little flexibility. As well as how to get the most out of a pose for more advanced users.
Dr. Long also cautions readers about when they need to do yoga in a certain way to not injure any joints.
This book takes a scientific approach to explaining hatha yoga.
Long uses four-color, three-dimensional illustrations to teach his readers about the major muscles, tendons, and ligaments. He describes the benefits of hatha yoga. He uses physiological and anatomical verbiage to explain how the body's muscles work together for each pose.
This first volume of the series goes over which key muscles are used in hatha yoga, and how each is used. Many people have found this to be a very helpful book.
While some note that it would be helpful to include conventional terms in the anatomical index rather than only the Latin names, the terms that are included can be cross-referenced with other resources for clarity.
In the second volume of this series, the author helps the reader influence their unconscious physiological responses through their conscious biomechanical actions.
This helps the reader experience more muscle awakening and body awareness as they learn to engage an increasing number of muscle groups during yoga practice.
Many have found this book to be a great practice companion with its integration of the science and art of yoga poses in order to get the most benefits from the practice.
This book teaches the reader about the science behind the flow of vinyasa yoga and the poses of hatha yoga.
Dr. Long takes the reader on a visual narrative through the anatomy, mechanics, and physiology of yoga, breaking down each pose along the way. This series of books offers beautiful illustrations along with a step-by-step guide on using scientific principles to get the most out of your practice.
This book focuses on the science and biomechanics behind the hip openers and forward bends of hatha yoga.
Like the other in the series, this book includes the bandha yoga codex. A five-step process that can easily be applied to any yoga pose to increase strength, flexibility, and accuracy.
This book is very similar to the previous two books in the series, but it focuses on the backbends and twists of hatha yoga. This series of books provides extremely precise information on yoga postures.
The names of each muscle that stretches or flexes are given along with pictures of the muscles in various hues of blue and red to indicate where the intensity lies. They also detail the joints involved and the direction in which the muscles move the ligaments.
While this series may be overwhelming for some, it is perfect for those who are looking for the necessary details to work towards better posture. Readers love the science that is incorporated into this series because it helps people better understand what their bodies are going through while they are practicing yoga.
15. Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques by Mark Stephens
This book is a useful resource for yoga teachers of all levels, as well as a guide for yoga students who are interested in improving their skills and technique. It is often used as a textbook for yoga teacher training programs because it addresses all of the teacher training curriculum standards that are set forth by Yoga Alliance.
This book offers information from a wide variety of perspectives, and has over 150 photographs and illustrations to cover the fundamental topics of the philosophy and history of yoga. Teaching Yoga covers all 11 principle styles of contemporary yoga, including a history of the development of each and the distinguishing factors of its teachings.
This book addresses the modern aspects of anatomy and physiology to provide extensive tools for teaching meditation, yoga poses, and breathing techniques.
Teaching Yoga also includes effective advice for setting up a classroom, planning classes, and the requirements for becoming a yoga teacher and staying up-to-date in the profession. Many readers have found that the resources that are offered in this book are especially useful, such as the comprehensive index and appendix that lists associations, institutions, organizations, and other resources for yoga teachers.
While this is a great book to get an initial orientation to teaching yoga, it does not take the place of learning from an experienced teacher in person. However, it does get prospective teachers used to the structure they should expect from their training.
16. The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
This book offers the reader a vividly illustrated guide to yoga, describing 150 positions along with step-by-step instructions on how to do them, and counseling on breathing techniques and the mental and physical health benefits of yoga.
Many have found this to be a very well formulated and organized book. The asanas are well-arranged according to physical positions, such as sitting and standing, as well as in a sequence that makes sense and flows, so going through the motions makes sense to the reader.
Each pose is accompanied by lead-ins, variations, and helpful information, such as the required sequence to enter the pose. Everything in the book is also explained through high-quality photographs to help the reader ensure that they are doing the poses properly.
17. Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers by David Keil
This book aims to help the reader understand the anatomical structure of the body and how it functions while doing yoga. This complicated subject is written in a conversational tone in a way that makes the information clear to the reader. The overall theme of Functional Anatomy of Yoga is integration.
The author shows the readers the benefits of having a better understanding of their bodies while they are practicing yoga. He addresses how all of the parts of the body function together to support the integrated movement of yoga, and how the various yoga postures connect to each other.
Keil is an expert both on the subjects of anatomy and yoga. He has almost 20 years of experience teaching anatomy to students and teachers in a way that is interesting and applicable to the practice of yoga.
This book includes illustrations to clearly explain the concepts and poses, which readers have found helpful. Many have found that this book is able to take the dry subject of anatomy and make it humorous and enjoyable. People especially value the last section of the book where the author integrates all of his anatomy lessons into the asanas.
18. Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners by H. David Coulter
This book brings together the studies of hatha yoga, anatomy, and physiology. It is a great read for those who study or teach yoga, but is also valuable for people who work in any field that is related to physical conditioning. The author is an authority in the subject due to his PhD in anatomy, experience as a professor, and experience as a yoga teacher at the Himalayan Institute for Yoga Science and Philosophy.
This book is different from others because it has the depth of a textbook, but is easily read with its humorous content and fluid writing style. It connects the dots between biomedicine and complementary medicine, with an emphasis on yoga anatomy, physiology, and the musculoskeletal, nervous, and cadiovascular systems.
Readers have found that this book is extremely well written. While it is exhaustive and comprehensive, the author's passion for anatomy and yoga come through in his writing. Some sections may need to be read more than once, but the challenge of reading and understanding this book is as good for one's brain as yoga is for one's body.
19. Yoga for Beginners: 60 Basic Yoga Poses for Flexibility, Stress Relief, and Inner Peace by Susan Neal
This book, written by a certified yoga instructor who is also a nurse, provides the reader with a step-by-step guide to achieving the inner peace that yoga can provide. This is a great book for beginners who are just starting to get familiar with the practice. The author is gentle in her writing, offering encouragement to teach readers how to improve their flexibility and relieve stress.
Yoga for Beginners explains a wide range of yoga poses, with options to suit beginners and intermediate students. The author also talks about proper eating practices to complement a yoga regimen. Specifically, Neal teaches about low glycemic diets to achieve a healthy weight, and the causes of sugar cravings, in addition to practical solutions to overcome them. After reading this book, one will be able to determine what they should do and eat to benefit their body, as well as why those practices are important.
This book explains 60 fundamental yoga poses with full-page pictures and specific instructions. It also includes three different yoga routines to give the reader some variety in their practice. Readers are able to relate to this book because the author includes personal stories about her battle with poor health, and what she did to regain control of her life. This practical book is an easy and simple read, and is great practice for people who have a beginner's mindset.
20. The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga by Ray Long
This book is the third edition of The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga. This edition adds over 50 new pages. It includes an expanded chapter on how to properly use the breath, and additional information on the biomechanics of yoga.
The graphics in this book are stunning. It is very detailed in every aspect of human anatomy and the benefits of each type of yoga. This book is different from others because it includes the chakras and bandhas. Making it a must-have for people who do yoga. It is also great for yoga teacher training programs.
21. Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton
In this book, Mark Singleton questions commonly held beliefs about yoga. And he presents a new way of understanding the practice.
His controversial thesis is that modern yoga is largely derived from the spiritual aspirations of European bodybuilding and early 20th century women's gymnastics. This idea allows the author to explain how the common forms of yoga have become the popular phenomena that they are today in the Western world.
Many have found the views presented in this book to offer an impressive study that sheds new light on yoga. It has led many people to change their beliefs on the origin of yoga and how they view it today. It is an easy and enlightening read.
What do you think about the best Yoga books presented here?
Do you practice Yoga? Have you read any of the best Yoga books on this list? Do you have any good advice for those who want to learn more about Yoga? Either the physical moves or the spiritual stuff. If so, please share your thoughts on Yoga or Yoga books in the comments section below.
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