The first time I wanted to find a book on a yoga, I had to physically drive to Barnes & Noble and scour the bookshelves for one or two books related to yoga. Now there are thousands of options. After so many years, I have my favorites, the books I recommend every yoga teacher needs to read.
Some are focused specifically on yoga, but not all of them. But if you dig (and not too hard), you’ll discover so many of the various concepts shared relate to yoga, or take inspiration from yoga practices.
The first three books are required for yoga teachers to read in my teacher training program. The last five are personal favorites.
#1 The heart of yoga
The name implies all.
Not only was this one of the few yoga books I found so long ago at the bookstore, it was the most comprehensive. Based on the teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya–who is considered the father of modern yoga–The Heart of Yoga created the foundation for my training curriculum. His philosophy and approach to yoga made sense to me.
My copy has been well-used and well-loved and has seen me through approximately 40 yoga training sessions. Pages are falling out and I keep grumbling I’m going to get a new one, but I honestly can’t bring myself to do it.
Check out the beautiful tribute to Desikachar and The Heart of Yoga
#2 Anatomy of a spirit
This book is about the seven main energy centers of the subtle body, also known as chakras. Through client stories, Myss demonstrates how issues (either excesses or deficiencies) in an energy center can manifest as emotional and/or physical problems.
And thankfully she provides solutions for bringing more balance into your chakras.
We’re all energy, and depending on what’s going on in our lives (and how we’re handling or not handling it), it affects our energy. When our energy shifts into excess or a deficiency, it impacts our physical and emotional well-being too.
I loved Anatomy of a Spirit so much it became a part of my yoga teacher training classes.
#3 the four agreements
Simple, simple, simple concepts. Four of them to be exact. Adopt them into your life and watch how it changes.
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally (my favorite)
Do your best.
The Four Agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom, reveals where our self-limiting beliefs rob us freedom, true happiness, and love.
#4 open your mind to prosperity
This book was written in 1971, long before the movement of manifesting and the law of attraction, and by a woman who was a female minister in the Unity faith. Both the author and the book were ahead of their time, IMO.
Open Your Mind to Prosperity teaches techniques to help individuals free their minds from the limiting beliefs and that keep them stuck.
My favorite YOGA part of this non-yoga book is found on the first page of the second chapter, “Cleanse Your Mind for Prosperity” where she explains a three-point formula: Purification, Illumination and Union.
Her three-point formula is the last three niyamas in the Yoga Sutras: Burning Impurities, Self-Study and Surrender to the Divine.
#5 the artist's way
Don’t let the title scare. This book is for ALL creatives, and as Julia Cameron says in the book, we’re all creatives.
The twelve-week journey takes you through chapters like Recovering a Sense of Identity, Recovering a Sense of Connection, and Recovering a Sense of Faith.
The subtitle shines the light on the yoga of this non-yoga book: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” Her prompts and exercises are designed to eliminate distractions, cleanse your mental clutter, and find your way back to the naturally creative (and spiritual) individual you are.
One of the daily exercises of The Artist’s Way, called Morning Pages, encourages you upon waking, and before getting out of bed, to brain dump for three pages. You can adapt this activity and do a brain dump prior to meditation to help calm the monkey mind.
#6 take time for your life
Cheryl Richardson was introduced to the world on Oprah, and this was my first exposure to life coaching. The author is the original self-care guru, giving us modern women (even in 1999 when she first published the book) permission to put the “airplane air mask on ourselves first, then assist others.”
You’ll find some yoga concepts in Take Time for Your Life:
- Identify the things that drain you and eliminate them–people, places, and things.
- Kick the adrenaline habit and find healthy ways to fuel you.
- Connect to your inner wisdom.
A great reminder that we can’t work non-stop. We have to take care of ourselves beyond surviving.
#7 Get Rich lucky B*tch
After reading through her book in two days, I was stoked to have found a book on the yoga of money. One of the first concepts she shares relates to getting rid of unnecessary clutter.
A book always gets my vote when it guides people to get rid of their s**t.
In Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, she addresses your money blocks, and limiting money beliefs. She discusses cleansing and purifying (maybe not those exact terms) and warns upleveling is a rinse and repeat formula.
The author provides tools and inspiration that will help you break through to the next level of your financial goals.
#8 western guide to feng shui
This is another book on energy, and how our physical surroundings impact our internal energy. Feng Shui is so important in many cultures that it influences home buying decisions. Many a house has been passed over because a builder put the sink and stove across from each other in the kitchen.
In Western Guide to Feng Shui, there are nine main energy centers in any given environment (your home, a particular room, your desk) and each center corresponds to a different area of your life such as career, love and marriage, or children and creativity.
I like to call Feng Shui the YOGA of space because it’s all about allowing the energy of your home (and you by extension) to circulate without obstacles. Much like we balance our chakras, we can bring our environments into better alignment.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON INSPIRING BOOKS TO READ
Most of my recommendations are older books. I included them because I’ve referenced them over and over in my life. Different parts seem to resonate with me at different stages in my life.
Some current inspiring books I’ve recently added to my library:
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Honor Yoga’s Roots by Susanna Barataki
- Yoga Myths by Judith Lasater
What books have had an impact on you?