Recommended Yoga Reading

The Heart of Yoga – by TKV Desikachar
One of my all-time favorite books on yoga. This book is a good introduction to the fundamental concepts of yogic philosophy, and is clear and easy to read. It also has a fantastic translation of The Yoga Sutras in the back, and a great Sanskrit glossary.

Health, Healing, and Beyond – by TKV Desikachar
A nice book by Mr. Desikachar which contains reflections on the yoga practice, as well as reflections on his father and Guru, Shri Krishnamacharya.

Light on Yoga – by BKS Iyengar
Probably the most well-regarded and widely-revered contemporary books on yoga. This is a true classic, and an amazing achievement. Mr. Iyengar writes a beautiful introduction on the principles and tenets of yoga – followed by a mega-comprehensive photographic guide to yoga postures, detailed instructions on how to do them correctly, benefits and cautions for each pose, and much more.

The Tree of Yoga – by BKS Iyengar
This is a small book, with many beautiful and insightful observations about practicing yoga. In this book, Mr. Iyengar is particularly eloquent in discussing the manner in which asana practice can lead the yogi to the more profound and spiritual aspects of yoga.

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health – by BKS Iyengar
This large, hardbound book is full of photographs detailing many primary yoga poses. It focuses on fewer postures than Light on Yoga, but includes a number of variations with props, which are very useful and clear. In the back of the book are some very nice and helpful sequences designed by Mr. Iyengar designed for different conditions (menstrual cramps, stress, depression, arthritis, and MANY more). The sequences are shown with nice photographs and are easy to follow.

The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health – by Linda Sparrowe & Patricia Walden
This book is aimed specifically at women and the unique experiences of women’s bodies, including: menstruation, menopause, pregnancy (with pre-and post-partum information). It’s a very clearly written and compassionate book full of useful knowledge. Of particular interest are suggested sequences for the phases mentioned above, as well as many others. A good book to have around!

Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life – by Judith Lasater
I love this book! With many brief chapters, each focusing on a different quality of the yoga practice, Lasater shares personal experience, suggested techniques, and reminders to use throughout the day.

30 Essential Yoga Poses: For Beginning Students and Their Teachers – by Judith Lasater
Lasater is a wonderful teacher and yogini, and has many valuable insights to the asana practice. This book picks 30 foundational poses and offers clear verbal and photographic instructions on performing them safely.

Bringing Yoga to Life – by Donna Farhi
This is a nice book, with many great examples from the author’s yoga practice as well as stories from her students. Farhi is a clear writer, and she has many eloquent and poignant observations on yoga. There’s also an abundance of great information about practicing yoga on your own.

Yoga: The Art and Practice of Moving Into Stillness – by Erich Schiffman
(available free online:
Erich Schiffman is a great teacher and an amazing yogi - overflowing with the spirit of yoga. Like him, his book is full of love and creativity and reflection. I really learned a lot from reading this book, especially from the overall tone of self-inquiry and self-respect.

Awakening the Spine – by Vanda Scaravelli
Scaravelli was a wonderful Italian yogini whose book shares a refreshing, feminine perspective on yoga – useful for yogis and yoginis alike. Her understanding of yoga is very human and humane – one of exploration, breathing, and enjoyment. An easy read, and a very worthwhile read as well.

A Child’s Garden of Yoga – by Baba Hari Dass
I’m not sure if this book is still in print, but is available at Logos’ from time to time. It’s a very sweet book about sharing yoga with children. Grouped by age group, it has many lovely ideas and is full of beautiful and informative photos. Great if you want to do some yoga with your little ones.

Translations of The Yoga Sutras

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – by BKS Iyengar
This a wonderful and very thorough translation. Notable for its word-by-word translation of the sutras – with many possible translations offered for each word. I like that because it helps me form a more robust understanding of the Sanskrit terms.

The Heart of Yoga – by TKV Desikachar
This is usually the translation that I turn to first, for its clarity and concise commentary. I also feel that Mr. Desikachar is particularly skilled at speaking to the Western mind.

Yoga: Discipline of Freedom – by Barbara Stoler Miller
Miller’s translation is also clear and concise, followed with insightful commentary. This book quickly became on of my most-referenced translations. She has a very poetic and eloquent essence to her interpretations.

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – by Chip Hartranft
For a long time, I looked up Hartranft’s wonderful translation/commentary on the Sutras online, and so I was delighted when I found that he had published a book. Very clear, very instructive, and very well-suited to the modern yogi. His examples are relatable and inspiring.

How to Know God – by Christopher Isherwood
Although I find the title odd, I have learned a great deal from this translation. Isherwood doesn’t bother with any Sanskrit, so if you’re interested in that you’ll want to have another copy on hand. The commentaries are lengthy and full of very beautiful insights – which have given me a lot to reflect on.

Kofi Busia’s translation:
Kofi’s translation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is available free on his website. Kofi includes the Sanskrit and his translation into English. You can also listen to him chanting the Sutras, which is beautiful. His translations are quite concise and often different from standard translations.


Yoga Journal
Quite mainstream and full of ads, but has some thoughtful and useful content. Monthly features include close analysis of a common posture, recommended home sequences, Q&A column, and a lot more.

Yoga International
This yoga mag is much more spiritually-oriented than YJ, but does contain asana information and analysis. Monthly features include inspirational quotes, commentary on the Yoga Sutras, gentle asana sequence, and spiritual guidance.

Only comes out a couple times a year, but is full of interesting and amazing content. Actually broader in concept than just yoga, this magazine aims to discuss “Indian Thought.” It’s a very high-caliber publication, completely ad-free, and feels more like a book than a magazine.

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Updated April 20, 2006