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.
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.
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