What books do you recommend if a student wants to learn more about philosophy of yoga?

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I find “The Heart of Yoga” by T.K.V. Desikachar to be a great introductory text, approachable yet comprehensive. The Iowa City Public Library has a copy! A lot of libraries usually do. This is a staple in a lot of teacher training programs.

If you are pretty academic and want to go deep on yoga philosophy, I recommend “The Yoga Sutras” by Edwin F. Bryant. Read slowly. Not a weekend read.



I’m currently reading the myths of the asanas and the hatha yoga pradipika. I read the yoga sutras and the Bhagavad Gita for training, but I recommend getting a book that has a lot of accompanying exposition, some really important points can be a bit obscure and without someone to point them out and begin a discussion it can be easy to miss big ideas.



A book I come back to a lot is The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. Like many things in life, it’s helpful to have a solid foundation to start with and grow from. For yoga, that’s the Yamas & Niyamas. Exploring this foundation of yoga, the yamas & niyamas, translates so fully into a how I live (or strive to live). This book takes these foundational concepts, these jewels of wisdom, and translates them as guidelines, observances, and ethical disciplines that can live both on and off the mat. The author has a way of helping you take each practice and provides the concept with such clarity & simplicity that you can literally draw parallels to any aspect of your emotional life. When you’re ready to take your practice into a deeper place, set an intention to practice with one of the yamas or niyamas as your mantra or your guide. It’s transformative!


In regards to the philosophy of yoga, I enjoy books related to the physiological outcomes of yoga rather than the spiritual side of the historic yoga philosophy. The history of yoga philosophy includes some great moral ground but from a spiritual aspect does not match my worldview and is not the source of my moral compass. The principles derived from the philosophy however are applicable to all, regardless of spiritual background. As we work to understand our mind and our personalities, our spiritual identity likely is a part of this process, and can be strengthened through a yoga practice. Therefore, the books I recommend or find interesting deal with the ability of yoga to affect our stress responses, how parts of the brain adapt positively in response to yogic breathing, how yoga postures can work to increase strength and flexibility and improve function, how our physical, mental, and emotional well being are so intertwined and adaptable. My favorite authors so far are Peter Levine and Bessel Van Der Kolk.


My favorite yoga book is The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T. K. V. Desikachar. He has a great way of explaining things. The other author I really enjoy is Osho. He really makes me think.



Recently I’ve read these books in my trainings and really enjoyed them.
1.  Anatomy and Asana’s- it goes into detail about what muscles you use for poses and how to prevent injuries
2.  Your Body Speaks Your Mind-  this would be a great book for anyone interested in the emotional, psychological and spiritual effects of our thoughts on our body.



The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchidananda should be in every yogi’s library. Swami Satchidananda has a beautiful way of explaining very complex concepts into brief nuggets that you can take with you into your everyday life.
Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. This is a beautiful complication of the philosophy of yoga explained in daily life situations. You can read one a day as they are very short snippets and take your learning over the course of a whole year.
Once a bit more seasoned in yogic philosophy, I highly recommend Tantra Illuminated: the philosophy, history, and practice of a timeless tradition by Christopher D. Wallis. This book dives deep into the beauty that is the tantric path as well as give a wonderful history on how it has been distorted by the west.


If you have any questions you would like answered by our in-house yogis, leave us a comment and we’ll add it to our list!

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