The Ultimate Yogi Reading List

Yoga Philosophy

If you’re interested in yoga but not ready for a full blown teacher training, we feel you. This list is a great place to start your yoga deep dive. Some of these texts are traditional, some aren’t, and we did that for a reason. Here at the MYC we value tradition, but also recognize just how far this practice has come over the years. Let’s get into it shall we, we present to you, the Ultimate Yogi Reading List.

The Yoga Sutras – Considered the most influential text of yoga, the Sutras translate to “thread,” and when we thread all the sutras together, we’re presented with a beautiful tapestry on how to approach life. This book is broken down into 4 different books or chapters. It’s not unusual to attend a yoga training that completely glosses over book 4, and when you take a read you’ll understand why. The Sutras outline the eight-limb path—along with a plethora of additional information one experiences along the yogic journey. This book can be both enlightening and overwhelming. Give yourself time to read this book then re-read it again and again. You’ll get something new from it each time you do. Remember, the Yoga Sutras have been translated hundreds of times, you’ll likely find pages of authors if you search this book on Amazon. Pro Tip: Don’t expect to understand everything your first read—this book assumes you have a heavy understanding in Sanskrit terms going in. 

Our favorites:

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda 

The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali a New Edition by Edwin F. Bryant

The Bhagavad Gita – Another pivotal yoga text, the Gita is yogic philosophy presented in a story/fable/myth form. The story includes two main characters: Arjuna the warrior and Lord Krishna presented in mortal form, here as Arjuna’s charioteer. The Gita describes the four schools of yoga and attempts to encourage a yogic lifestyle during what many would consider a justifiably violent moment. Though some scholars attest to the realness behind the battle that takes place in the Gita, many scholars confirm the story is rather an ethical dilemma of the mind. What most people don’t know is that the Gita is actually a story within a story – taking place as a chapter within the great Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata. Should you read the Mahabharata? Maybe, but probably not – start with the Gita and go from there; you may find, like many, that the Gita is all you need. 

Our favorites:

The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran

The Bhagavad Gita A Guide to Navigating the Battle of Life by Ravi Ravindra

Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar – One of the most popular yogic texts on the market today, written by the master yogi Iyengar himself, this book explores all aspects of the yoga practice—philosophy and postures included. In my humble opinion, it’s a hard read and comes across incredibly dry,  and, like other yogic texts, reads better once you have a basic understanding of the terminology first. Experienced yogis may love this book, we can honestly go either way. Why did we include it on our list? Because so many people ask our opinion on it and we want to be honest. Sure, it’s a great read (if you’re an experienced yogi), but you’ll get more out of other books we’ve listed on this page. 

The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adelle – This one we’re giving you both the title and author, that’s how much we love this book. Seriously everyone should read it, your mom included. The yamas and niyamas are both limb one and two of the eight limb path, and represent the pivotal groundwork for what it means to truly practice yoga. If you’ve ever explored the yamas and niyamas you probably understood them – fortunately they’re not the most complicated of ideas. Take the first yama for example – most of us would agree we shouldn’t go around punching people, but Deborah has an uncanny ability to modernize these practices and take them well beyond the obvious. Seriously, we know you’re going to love this book. 

Happy Yoga by Steve Ross – This is another specific book we just adore. Steve Ross is a magical yoga teacher, if you ever get the chance to practice with him you should! In fact you can even meditate with him here. Steve has an uncanny ability to bring authentic joy into his teaching and everyday existence. We like this book for its honest approach to yoga, as Steve takes the practice off your mat and into your life. If you’re looking for a starting point on your reading list this is it. 

The Science of Yoga by Ann Swanson – Okay, so we know we said five, but we actually have one more book we want to throw on the list. It may not have to do with the traditional side of yoga, but we’re big fans anyway. If you’ve ever been curious about the anatomy side of things this book is for you. Ann does an awesome job of illustrating the different movements happening in the body throughout varying postures. This book illustrates the body incredibly well and will definitely help you dive into your physical practice.

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