There are so many yoga books to choose from nowadays. And so when thinking about which are the best yoga books out there, the list seems endless!
Some discuss yoga history and philosophy, others anatomy, some are for kids yoga and some are yoga journals.
I have been practicing yoga for just over a decade and have amassed a rather large collection of yoga books that were either recommended by fellow yoga teachers or I was lucky to stumble across.
And so if you are looking for the best yoga books on the market but don’t know where to begin, have a look at my recommendations below and I really do hope you find at least one that you are interested in.
As a side note, I wrote an article titled 15 Best Yoga Books (From Survey Of 125 Yogis). Be sure to check it out!
The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg
The Goddess Pose tells the story of the woman who brought yoga to the West.
Indra Devi was not only the first woman that Krishnamacharya taught, but she was also the first Westerner that he taught. After her studies in Mysore, Krishnamacharya gave her his blessing to go ahead and teach yoga.
Indra Devi then moved to the US in 1947 and this is where she helped with the female-dominated trajectory of yoga. While in California she had many celebrity pupils (such as Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Arden). As Michelle Goldberg writes in Indra Devi’s biography (The Goddess Pose), she is considered to have “planted the seeds for the yoga boom in the 1990s”.
Yoga Body by Mark Singleton
Yoga Body explains how modern yoga evolved and ended up being what we practice today.
Using scholarly texts and interviews with those who were part of the modern yoga shift, this book is well worth reading for anyone wanting to find out more about what we nowadays refer to as yoga.
What may set this book apart from others is that it discusses the origins of modern, postural yoga. More specifically, it is argued that modern yoga is the result of the interaction between yoga and the Western physical culture.
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Yoga Anatomy is considered ‘the best-selling anatomy guide for yoga’.
It provides an in-depth and detailed guide on asanas through full-color anatomical illustrations.
From breathing to inversions to seated asanas, this book shows how specific muscles respond to the movements of the joints, how modifications to a pose can enhance or reduce effectiveness, and how the spine, breathing, and body alignment are all connected.
This book is recommended to teachers and practitioners who want more information on yoga anatomy
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
Light on Yoga is considered to be a ‘yoga bible’.
It is a comprehensive book on yoga with over 600 photographs of BKS Iyengar himself, depicting postures and breathing exercises. This is a very practical and very well illustrated yoga guide by one of the world’s foremost yoga teachers.
Light on Yoga goes beyond postures and breathing and also explains Yogic philosophy. Additionally, this book even provides specific postures that may be able to help with specific health problems, such as migraines and back pain.
Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers
Insight Yoga is a book that shows how more passive poses (Yin style) can be combined with more dynamic practices (Yang style).
Through a variety of different sequences, Sarah Powers explains the benefits these can have on our organs, muscles, joints, and tendons, and last but not least, the mind.
This book also provides an explanation of Chinese medicine theory as well as instructions on mindfulness meditation.
Functional Anatomy of Yoga by David Keil
David Keil is considered an authority on the subject of anatomy in the Ashtanga yoga world. I was lucky enough to practice with him several years ago and I got to experience being adjusted by someone who really does know how the body works.
In Functional Anatomy of Yoga David Keil explains the anatomical structure and function of the body in yoga.
The book presents beautifully illustrated photographs and colored images to clearly explain the concepts and asanas. This book is invaluable for both yoga teachers and yoga practitioners looking for a deeper anatomical understanding of their practice. And so it’s no wonder that this is one of the best yoga books on anatomy out there.
Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith
Eastern Body Western Mind merges the East and West, science and philosophy, and psychology and spirituality.
Using the chakra system as a map, this book then charts our Western understanding of individual development.
Each chapter focuses on a specific chakra. It starts off with a description of its characteristics and then explores its childhood developmental patterns, any possible traumas, and abuses, and then goes on to explain how we can then to heal and maintain balance.
The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar
The Heart of Yoga is the first yoga book with a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to viniyoga, which is adapted to the needs of the individual.
What makes this book special is that it was written by TKV Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, who is considered to be the father of modern yoga. The latest edition of the book also contains 32 poems by Krishnamacharya which help capture the essence of his teachings.
This book discusses yoga poses conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy and shows how the practice can be tailored regardless of age, occupation, and lifestyle.
Yoga of the Subtle Body by Tias Little
Yoga of the Subtle Body offers a practical guide to the anatomy of the physical, mental, emotional, and subtle body.
More specifically, this book maps the connection between the body and the chakras, nadis, and koshas.
This book works from the bottom up quite literally, with each chapter focusing on one of the eight key centers of the body: feet/base, pelvis, sacrum, belly, diaphragm, heart/lungs, throat, and crown. Each chapter discusses poses and guided meditations, as well as excerpts from yogic texts.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi is highly recommended for all yoga practitioners and is one of the best yoga books you can buy.
An interesting fact is that apparently, this was the only book Steve Jobs downloaded on his iPad, and went back and reread it once every year. When first starting this book it took me a few pages to get into it. And then I couldn’t put it down.
It presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time, Paramahansa Yogananda. In this book, he takes us on his life’s journey, from his remarkable childhood to encounters with saints to his training to become a yoga teacher to how he then started teaching in America.
Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey
Breathe Like a Bear is a bestseller mindfulness book for children aged 4 – 8 years. This book is divided into 5 sections, Be Calm, Focus, Imagine, Make Some Energy, and Relax.
Children are also encouraged to use their imagination with text like:
“Imagine you’re a sleepy lion, just waking up in the morning”
Each section of the book contains two breathing exercises that are aimed to encourage the practice of mindfulness.
How Yoga Works by Michael Roach & Christie McNally
How Yoga Works is a book I purchased in Mysore after a fellow practitioner recommended it.
Very different from all the books on this list, this book is in the form of a story. Beyond asanas, anatomy, and alignment, this book presents a story of how the teachings of yoga reached Tibet from their home in India, over a thousand years ago.
Yoga philosophy is unfolded and there are a couple of yoga philosophy themes threaded through the story that tie all the lessons together.
Beautiful book if you want something different to the standard yoga books.
Roots of Yoga by James Mallinson & Mark Singleton
Roots of Yoga is an invaluable resource for serious yoga practitioners and teachers.
It brings together the core teachings of yoga, such as key passages from the Upanishads, the Buddhist and Jaina traditions as well as the yoga sections of the Indian Tantras.
Mark Singeton is also the author of Yoga Body discussed earlier in this list.
Raja-Yoga & Patanjali Yoga-Sutra by Swami Vivekananda
Raja-Yoga & Patanjali Yoga-Sutra covers the various aphorisms of Patanjali in detaill.
What makes this book special is that it was written by Swami Vivekananda. He was part of the most notable moment in modern yoga history and which actually brought yoga to the USA.
More specifically, Swami Vivekananda was invited to speak at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. He discussed yoga, mentioned the Bhagavad Gita, and further discussed the universality of the world’s religions and managed to impress the attendees of his lectures.
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
The Secret Power of Yoga discusses the emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga.
More specifically, using personal interpretations of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, Devi discusses each sutra and then suggests numerous practices to embrace each sutra throughout the day.
This book can be considered as a more feminine way of relating the yoga sutras to our lives.
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching is an introduction to the core teachings of Buddhism.
With over 1000 reviews, this bestseller is for all levels and shows us that the Buddha’s teachings are accessible and applicable to our daily lives.
It covers important teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Doors of Liberation, the Three Dharma Seals, and the Seven Factors of Awakening.
One Simple Thing by Eddie Stern
The full title of the book is: One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life.
Blending science, neuroscience specifically, ancient wisdom, and his decades of practicing and teaching yoga, Eddie Stern explains how what we do affects who we become. He also discusses how a constant routine of physical movements, activities, and attitudes are able to transform our brain functions and emotions.
Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
Every Body Yoga is a book of inspiration for beginners of all shapes and sizes.
Indeed, in a world where yoga is synonymous with postural yoga and yogis are considered white, young, and thin, Jessamyn Stanley was able to break through all their barriers of preconceptions.
Her book is an oasis in our modern times and a must-read for anyone who feels like they don’t fit in the yoga body mold. This book is great for beginners as it is also a how-to book with easy-to-follow directions to 50 basic yoga poses to practice at home.
Your Spine, Your Yoga by Bernie Clark
As you may have guessed from the title, Your Spine, Your Yoga looks at the spine from both the Western anatomical/biomechanical point of view and the modern yoga perspective.
Working from the pelvis all the way up the spine to the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical complex, each segment is examined. More specifically, the book examines the bones, joints, ligaments, fascia, tendons, muscles, and even the neurological and blood systems.
Through this, variations and limitations are examined and discussed, thus making this book invaluable for yoga teachers specifically, but also for curious beginners and advanced practitioners.
Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall, M.D.
Yoga as Medicine could be considered to be the definitive book of yoga therapy.
This book is an invaluable tool for all yoga practitioners and teachers looking into the therapeutic aspects of yoga.
It covers the history and science of yoga, explains how yoga can be used as a therapy, and how it can be tailored to everyone’s needs. This included the use of yoga postures, breathing, and meditation as a means to heal from illnesses and injuries.
The Little Book of Yoga by Nora Isaacs
Just as the name suggests, The Little Book of Yoga is the best yoga book for a short read.
It is compact and packed with information for all levels of yoga practitioners. In a clear and concise manner, this book covers the history of yoga, yoga philosophy, breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga poses.
It is perfect for anyone who wants a clean and simple overview of yoga.
The Modern Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
The Modern Yoga Bible is a great book to compliment your yoga practice.
This book is great for any home practitioner or yoga teacher, as it offers a wealth of information on how to deepen yoga poses, how to combine poses to create a sequence, and also how to modify poses to suit your needs.
It is the follow-up book to her book The Yoga Bible, labeled as the definitive guide to yoga, as it has over 170 postures from the main schools of yoga.
The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele
The Yamas & Niyamas is the ideal book for anyone wanting to explore yoga philosophy.
Written in a way that makes it easy to follow and relatable to modern life, this book discusses the first two limbs of the 8 fold path of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas are the guidelines for the yoga way of living and so this book will help you relate the yoga way of life to your life.
It has also been translated into Spanish.
Practice You: A Journal by Elena Brower
Practice You is a journal aimed at helping us connect with ourselves and thus help us find our truths.
Using beautiful watercolors, Elena created this journal which can almost feel like a restorative workshop. Page by page, artwork by artwork she guides us to explore our inner thoughts and feelings.
It is recommended to go to her website for more information on how to use this journal.
Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain
Just One Thing is a book that aims to help us integrate simple daily practices into our lives in a way that can change the way our brain works.
It contains over 50 daily practices that may seem simple at first. However, that is the beauty of this book. It has been created in such a way that you will be more likely to actually take on these little changes. And just like that, it helps you deepen your sense of well-being and find unconditional happiness.