Learning from yoga teachers is great for your yoga journey. But as you deepen your personal practice, you would need to form your own perspective and learn how best to move your body that no teacher can ever tell you to.
In order to cultivate a personal practice, books can be really helpful in guiding you and giving in-depth information you sometimes cannot get from a class.
As a personal development junkie, yoga books were new to me. I tried reading the easy to digest personal stories, to really technical books. And here is the list of my favourite yoga books for beginners to start with!
In fact, as I am writing this post, I’m adding many of these to my re-read list. They are that good.
Best Yoga Books for Beginners
The best yoga books for beginners are:
- Best Introduction to Yoga: Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
- Best for Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice: The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar
- Best for Living the Yogic Life: Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
- Best on Yoga from a Scientific Perspective: Science of Yoga by Ann Swanson
- Best Guide on Yogic Breathing Techniques: Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar
- Best Anatomy for Beginners: Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
- Best for Anybody: Yoga for Everyone by Diane Bondy
- Best Sanskrit Reference: The Language of Yoga: by Nicolai Bachman
- Best on Yoga Therapy: Yoga as Medicine by Yoga Journal and Timothy McCall
Now, let’s take a look at each book in detail to give you an overview of what to expect:
Best Introduction to Yoga: Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
My all-time favourite. If there is only one book you read, please read this.
This book is not just about asanas, but it also gives a brief, yet informative, introduction to other aspects of the yoga life.
If you have only been taught about yoga asanas, pick up this book to learn about the other dimensions of yoga. But even if you only want asana guides, this book has an epic encyclopedia of yoga poses in photos, with descriptions, tips, contraindications, and guides.
Best for Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice: The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar
For the loyal readers of this blog, you know that I am a super advocate of having a home yoga practice. This was in part motivated by my job where I have to travel frequently and cannot go to a yoga studio consistently.
In addition, I found that practising at home helped me progress where I needed the most help – I could spend time focusing on certain asanas, or transition. I spent time being more aware of my body and mind at home, rather than think about the girl beside me in a studio.
You are your own best teacher – no teacher can feel how you feel, or tell your muscles to move in a way that works best for your body.
However, I also understand that for most people, moving away from the guidance of a yoga teacher and the vibes of a yoga class to a home practice can be a little intimidating. Many I know have spoken about doing yoga at home, but finding yoga motivation is another challenge.
The Heart of Yoga is a great step-by-step guide to show you how to create a personal practice at home (or if you are on the road, where your accommodation is). It helps you find that essential practice at home that suits your needs and current practice level.
Tip: To be fully responsible for your yoga journey may be scary at first. So why not pair Desikarchara’s book with our FREE Yoga at Home Set Up Guide.
This was the system I used to build a habit of practising at home (rather than in the studio) and progress my yoga practice systematically through the printables you will get too.
Best for Living the Yogic Life: Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
I love this book.
Although every book on this list is great, Meditations from the Mat was THE one that really made me think deeper about the 8 Limbs of Yoga and inspired me to write about it and more importantly, live it on a day-to-day basis.
Related: You can read about my post on the 8 Limbs of Yoga here.
I actually got this book as an audiobook before I repeated reading the hard copy. The way this book goes, you listen to 1 meditation per day. That meditation is meant to be the “theme” of your day, much like how a daily intention works.
If you are super stoked on yoga, you could finish more than 1 meditation per day. Just remember to contemplate on the theme of the day and make it personal.
Best on Yoga from a Scientific Perspective: Science of Yoga by Ann Swanson
The benefits of yoga cannot be refuted, but many of these are explained from a spiritual or energetic perspective. For instance, not everyone believes in the 7 Chakras or vibrations.
By learning about the science behind yoga, readers will get to understand the benefits of yoga from a secular, non-spiritual and objective point of view. I think this is a very powerful thing to possess, not just for your personal practice, but also when sharing yoga with others. You would be able to connect better to different people, especially those require ‘hard’ evidence about yoga and its benefits.
Best of all, this book provides in-depth information on anatomy and physiology. It’s an all-rounder indeed.
Best Guide on Yogic Breathing Techniques: Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar
Pranayama, or breath control, is one of the limbs of yoga. As mentioned many times in this blog, yoga is not yoga without conscious breathing.
However, as a beginner, breathing in yoga may leave you confused – there are many techniques and principles around Pranayama.
Learn from BKS Iyengar, who also wrote our first book Light on Yoga and get a comprehensive guide on Pranayama. This is not only a resource for beginners but for any level of the practitioner who knows the importance of breathing in yoga (and life).
Best Anatomy for Beginners: Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
My body is prone to injuries if I exercise with the wrong form and alignment. That’s one of the reasons why I am so careful about practising yoga poses, even the beginner level ones.
Yoga Anatomy has been highly helpful throughout my journey because its illustrations show poses from the inside out – highlighting how specific muscles respond to movements or how pose modifications affect the effectiveness of asanas, etc.
Get this book if you have always wanted to know what goes on in your body when you do certain poses. You won’t regret it.
Best for Every Body: Yoga for Everyone by Diane Bondy
As the title suggests, this book provides tips on yoga poses that anyone can do. I particularly love the fact that the models in this book are not your typical Instagram models, but are real people – some with physical disabilities.
I have always believed that yoga is an inclusive practice. Regardless of your religion, size, diet, and beliefs, you can do yoga.
Get this book if you have always felt unsure about doing yoga in a studio full of experienced yogis. You are fully capable of learning yoga, and this book will give you that boost of self-confidence.
Best Sanskrit Reference: The Language of Yoga: Complete A-to-Y Guide to Asana Names, Sanskrit Terms, and Chants by Nicolai Bachman
When you first step into a yoga class, you may hear certain names and terms that sound absolutely foreign to you. Many of these are asana names in Sanskrit.
As a beginner, nobody will expect you to remember these Sanskrit names. But if you really want to know more about the meaning behind each asana name or are simply an enthusiastic learner, this book may become an amazing addition to your reading list.
Best on Yoga Therapy: Yoga as Medicine by Yoga Journal and Timothy McCall
Many know yoga to be great for health, but this book takes it a step further to give the yogi the low-down on yoga therapy. Like several people who have reviewed this book, I started getting interested in Yoga Therapy when my body experienced pain; Pain in the lower back from over-sitting, pain in the knees from running, pain in the hips for no rhyme or reason.
This is a resource you will go back to again and again, especially if you are practising yoga at home and are looking at using yoga for therapeutic purposes.
And there we have our top list of yoga books for beginners. If you feel strongly about a book that should be included here, do drop me a note.
Otherwise, happy reading. I’ll see you in our next post!
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The YogaMad is founded by Mila, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.