The 10 Best Yoga Books

Updated April 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Yoga Books
Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual
Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit
Hatha Yoga Illustrated
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you use it for meditative purposes, general fitness, or to build strength, yoga can be a healthful addition to any daily regimen. Our selection of books on the topic will help you improve your knowledge and technique, and are written for a variety of audiences, from first-timers to those aiming to try their hand as instructors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best yoga book on Amazon.

10. Yoga Anatomy

Yoga Anatomy is arranged into 11 chapters dealing with a different part of the body, giving you a complete education on your physique's reaction to the art. It has a lot of in-depth info and full-color anatomical illustrations to help you understand the underlying science.
  • will quickly improve yoga skills
  • muscle index for reference
  • some may find writing too technical
Publisher Human Kinetics
Model n/a
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit

In Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit, the author outlines seven principles that form the basis of healthy movement and underpin a functional practice. It features 240 photographs and illustrations of poses, which is especially useful for beginners.
  • discusses ethics of the discipline
  • chapters are well-organized
  • routines don't flow well
Publisher Holt Paperbacks
Model n/a
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Functional Anatomy of Yoga

If you are interested in the technical aspects of the practice, then the Functional Anatomy of Yoga is a good choice. It focuses on the integration of each part of the anatomy with the whole, giving you a bird's-eye view of the art and its impact on your body.
  • conversational writing style
  • explains purpose behind poses
  • illustrations are not high quality
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Yoga Girl

In Yoga Girl, Instagram star Rachel Brathen shares stories of her travels around the globe while simultaneously offering detailed sequences and practical advice. Not only will it inspire you to delve further into yoga, but it will also motivate you to see the world.
  • includes lots of healthy recipes
  • breathtaking photos
  • lots of non-yoga-related content
Publisher Touchstone Books
Model n/a
Weight 14.1 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Guide to Yin Yoga

Guide to Yin Yoga is a perfect option for those looking to learn about this specific art, a variation that focuses more on the meditation behind the discipline. It goes into great detail on how to do each pose correctly, which gives the reader confidence.
  • delves deep into philosophy
  • explores the physiological benefits
  • may be too challenging for beginners
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Hatha Yoga Illustrated

Hatha Yoga Illustrated is filled with color photos that show you how to properly practice the most popular form of the discipline. If you've struggled with doubts as to whether you're doing the poses correctly, this book will put those fears to rest.
  • fitness-based pose variations
  • includes astanga and bikram styles
  • minimal info on creating a full flow
Publisher Human Kinetics
Model 9780736062039
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Teaching Yoga

If you've ever wanted to lead a class, Teaching Yoga allows you to test yourself against the curriculum standards set by the Yoga Alliance. It demonstrates a wide spectrum of perspectives, making it great for students looking to increase their skills as well.
  • covers classic yoga literature
  • includes history of styles
  • contains a helpful appendix
Publisher North Atlantic B
Model n/a
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Yoga for Life

In Yoga for Life, former fashion model Colleen Saidman Yee shares her gripping life story alongside useful advice for incorporating the practice into your daily routine. It has yoga sequences that focus on particular health issues accompanying each chapter.
  • helpful for dealing with depression
  • focuses on spiritual aspects of yoga
  • promotes improved body awareness
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual

Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual contains the entire primary and intermediate series of the art in a spiral-bound book that stays open when you practice. If you want a text that's easy to reference during yoga sessions without breaking poses, this is a good choice.
  • includes 3 options for every asana
  • features insightful commentary
  • very user-friendly formatting
Publisher Ashtanga Yoga Productio
Model n/a
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. The Key Muscles of Yoga

The Key Muscles of Yogashows you exactly what happens in your tendons and sinews during a session of hatha yoga. Using vivid illustrations, this book demonstrates the powerful effect that a daily practice can have on the body -- which will encourage you to keep doing it.
  • suitable for all experience levels
  • great for physical therapy students
  • breaks down complex concepts
Publisher Greenleaf Book Group
Model n/a
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Yoga

If you and your friends enthusiastically frequent the newest "Hot Yoga" studio, then indeed you are practicing a form of yoga that is itself rather new. Hot yoga, a common term for what is more specifically known as Bikram Yoga, is a practice created in the 1970s by world famous yogi Bikram Choudry.

The practice consists of a series of 26 yoga postures (or positions) and breathing exercises all conducted in a space heated to approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures associated with Hot Yoga are intended to facilitate greater flexibility, increased calorie burning, and, with long term commitment to the practice, reduced body fat and increased strength.

Many experts warn that some of the benefits associated with Hot Yoga may be limited at best, and that the practice can lead to dehydration and hyperthermia, both of which are dangerous conditions to be avoided whenever possible. Few people, however, question the many benefits of practicing traditional yoga, which is more traditionally known as Hatha Yoga, a practice that dates back thousands of years. Yoga may have been practiced as much as 3,500 years ago, as it seems to be mentioned in the sacred Hindu text known as the Rigveda which dates to approximately 1400 BCE.

The practice of yoga can be definitely linked to various practitioners alive during the 5th and 6th Centuries BCE, with mentions and illustrations of yoga located across much of present day India. Yoga remained largely an Indian (and Hindu) pursuit for much of the Common Era, with its practice only making inroads in Western society around the turn of the last century. Throughout the 20th Century yoga slowly grew in popularity in America, and in the last few decades of that century it caught on globally, both as a part of a fitness regimen and as a spiritual practice.

The word itself, yoga, is interpreted in many ways. It can be taken to mean everything from "to unite" or "exertion" or "combined." Regardless of the etymological specificities, which are blurred by time and by individual interpretation anyway, yoga is more popular today than at any point during its millennia of history. Those interested in practicing yoga or in studying its influences and its influence have at their disposal a wealth of source material, with more yoga books joining the panoply each and every year.

Yoga As Part Of A Fitness Routine

If you are interested in learning about and participating in yoga as part of a fitness regimen, then your study should involve both the positions and practices associated with yoga as well as a study of human anatomy. By blending a scientific approach to understanding the physiology of the body and the movements and exertions yo will experience in yoga, you can craft a holistic approach to exercise.

Yoga can help build long, lean muscles, and it can do wonders for flexibility. It cannot greatly increase your strength or build developed (e.g. "cut") muscles associated with lifting, however, and yoga can only do so much in terms of cardiovascular fitness development. (For the record, weightlifting will do little to improve flexibility, and might even limit it.)

A savvy athlete will use the practice of yoga to help maintain a flexible body and to strengthen his or her core. They will also use traditional strength training exercises, such as weight lifting, resistance training, and/or calisthenics, to develop specific muscle groups. Other cardiovascular training routines should also be a requisite for the dedicated fitness enthusiast, as yoga simply can't help someone achieve the same consistently elevated heart rate that jogging, cycling, rowing, or other activities provide.

The more a fitness enthusiast reads about yoga, the better he or she can fit its practice into a wider exercise routine. And keep in mind that while many people associate yoga with its spiritual aspects, there is no need to approach the practice as anything more than a physical activity if you so wish it. The benefits of limberness and flexibility are without question, even if you question your need for added mind-body and emotional connection.

Practicing Yoga For Mental And Spiritual Balance

Beyond the physical aspects of yoga -- the balance it requires and helps to develop, the core strength it refines, and the flexibility its long term practice leads too -- there is a potent emotional and spiritual side to the committed practice of yoga. If you're not sure yoga will suit you, or if you are struggling to make a deeper connection to this ancient discipline after your first forays, reading the right yoga book might be a great way to foster a deeper connection.

Some people treat yoga as a meditative experience, losing themselves in the practice and even melding aspects of Zen Buddhism (or other religious prayers or practices) with their yoga routine. Regardless of the depths to which you choose to associate yoga with emotional or spiritual introspection, the mere act of taking time to work on a discipline that inherently requires patience and devotion can have a markedly beneficial improvement on one's life.

Practicing and mastering yoga can help someone who may feel as though they are floundering in one aspect of their life find a renewed sense of balance and control. Even practicing yoga without mastery can have its benefits, as it forces the mind to reorient itself to a new set of challenges and goals.

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Last updated on April 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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