Looking for a really good read? We asked BYV teachers and students to share their all-time favourite yoga books; help us grow this list by leaving a comment with the titles you love most!
#17: The Mighty Cobra & the Pink Rabbit (by Miss Pink)
Ever wonder what goes on at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training? This illustrated electronic memoir serves as a Bikram-approved expose of the so-called “hottest place on earth.” You’ll love tagging along as Miss Pink, a self-described “pear-shaped, type A gal” – journals through a nine-week training journey.
#16: Good Camel, Good Life (by Scott Bischke)
This is a story about “hot yoga survival.” The author – a Bikram Yoga beginner who takes on a 60-day challenge hoping to find a way to better cope with his wife’s cancer – describes how his experiences inside the hot room helped him become stronger, more balanced and more grateful in life.
#15: The Holy Science (by Swami Sri Yukteswar)
This thin edition was written by Paramahansa Yogananda’s guru near the end of his life. It looks at parallel passages from the Bible and Hindu scriptures to show not only the fundamental unity of all religions, but also the universal path that every human being must travel in order to reach enlightenment. BYV teacher Joseph, who loves this book, says, “Get ready to exercise your mind reading this one!”
#14: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (by Stephen Cope)
Our own social media guru, Trevor, counts this among his fave yoga books … and we can see why. After a long-term relationship ended, the author, a psychotherapist, went on a four-month yoga retreat in rural Massachusetts – and never left. This is Cope’s chronicle of self-discovery, offering personal and professional insight into how yoga and meditation can bring us back to clear awareness.
#13: Anatomy of Hatha Yoga (by David Coulter)
No wonder this book’s been called “the most comprehensive and authoritative work available correlating the study of Hatha Yoga with anatomy and physiology.” Coulter, who holds a PhD in anatomy, provides a full overview of yoga anatomy and physiology, placing special emphasis on the musculoskeletal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. The postures are discussed in detail and depicted in amazing, full-colour photos, along with anatomical diagrams to illustrate critical processes and muscle groups.
#12: Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition (by Marshall Govindan)
Provides an excellent introduction to the life of Mahavatar Babaji, a mysterious Indian monk (who some say was Krishna in a former life) whose goal was to spread the word of Kriya Yoga throughout the world. Govindan’s book also explains how the art of Kriya Yoga, which uses various breathing techniques to accelerate spiritual development, can be applied to find better health and happiness.
#11: Awakening the Spine (by Vanda Scarvelli)
Lisa loves this book because it makes her think of Emmy Cleaves, who is still practicing Bikram Yoga after nearly 40 years. The author, who studied under B. K. S. Iyengar, shares her decades of experience exploring yoga, breath, gravity and anatomy. In a poetic style that makes it easy and enjoyable to read, Scarvelli helps you better understand your body and how various elements affect it.
#10: Anatomy of the Spirit (by Caroline Myss)
If you want to know more about mind-body connection, this is one powerful read. Myss describes the seven stages of power and healing, revealing the links between emotional/spiritual stresses and specific illnesses, and puts it all in context of the anatomy of the human energy system.
#9: The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita (explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, as remembered by his disciple, Swami Kriyananda)
This is BYV teacher Ulrike’s “all-time favourite if you want to know more about yoga; a book full of wisdom and hope.” While many translations of the Bhagavad Gita exist, this one is particularly good at explaining in clear and simple terms how to apply its lessons to our daily thoughts and actions. Best of all, the book offers assurance that the only eventual result for each and every one of us must be success, liberation and a return to our true selves. Like Danny often says in class: the ultimate goal of Bikram Yoga is to know yourself.
#8: The Living Gita (by Sri Swami Satchidananda)
The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian poem, tells the story of a great warrior, Arjuna, who is faced with a difficult decision: whether or not to fight in a battle between his kinsmen. Arjuna is counselled by Krishna, whose advice forms the foundations of the spiritual practice of yoga: karma yoga (the yoga of service), jnana yoga (the yoga of self-knowledge) and bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion). It may not have much to do with the physical postures, but the Gita is the best place to start if you want to gain more perspective on the philosophy of yoga.
#7: Babar’s Yoga for Elephants (Laurent de Brunhoff)
The perfect book for anyone who loves yoga … or elephants! You may have noticed this little hardcover kicking around the Kits Studio; more than a just a Celesteville story, Babar and his friends provide kids with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step illustrations for 15 yoga postures – plus several helpful breathing exercises. It also gives useful advice on what to do with your trunk while in position – a problem that made-for-people yoga books tend to ignore.
#6: Yoga Anatomy (by Leslie Kaminoff)
The illustrations may be the real stars of this page-turner, showing in great detail what each muscle and bone in your body is doing during 60-plus different yoga postures. While many of the asanas are outside the Bikram Yoga series, if you’ve ever wondered what’s going on under your skin during class this book is a good way to get a first glimpse. There are also introductory chapters on the dynamics of breathing and the spine that are interesting.
#5: The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (by Sri Swami Satchidananda)
Anyone with a sincere interest in yoga will want to know more about Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras, which covers the ancient yogic teachings on ethics, meditation and physical postures, plus gives directions for dealing with situations in daily life. The author of this particular translation, who happens to be a yoga master, also offers his own advice for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony beyond the studio.
#4: Yoga Challenge I (by Tony Sanchez)
Tony Sanchez, one of Bikram’s top teachers, created this practice manual for instructors-in-training and home practitioners, including detailed instructions, modifications and basic movement principals for injury-free yoga practise. While it isn’t a replica of the Bikram Yoga series, it is a one-hour beginning/intermediate series based on the 84 asanas from the Bishnu Ghosh lineage. Once you’ve finished this book, give Sanchez’ Yoga Challenge II, III and IV a try.
#3: Autobiography of a Yogi (by Paramahansa Yogananda)
Written by Bikram’s guru’s brother, this book not only provides a beautifully written account of Yogananda’s life but also serves as a fascinating introduction to the ancient science of yoga and its time-honoured tradition of meditation. Be sure to read the footnotes, as well, which delve deeper into Indian spirituality and draw unexpected parallels with original Christian teachings.
#2: Bikram Yoga (by Bikram Choudhury)
In his “orange book,” Bikram describes how his series can reap many medical, physical and spiritual benefits by exercising every part of the body and helping to alleviate such common ailments as asthma and back pain. With photographs illustrating each of the 26 postures, this manual gives valuable tips on how to cultivate a “union between body and spirit” through Bikram Yoga. You’ll also learn more about the man himself and explore a bit of the yoga history behind his series.
#1: Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class (by Bikram Choudhury)
Whether you’re a first-time yogi or you’ve been practising in the hot room for years, Bikram’s book will open your eyes to the ins and outs of the postures that make up his famous series. Not only will you gain pointers on how to achieve the “ideal” position, but Bikram also explains in detail what a beginner will likely accomplish in class and describes some of the problems he or she may encounter (and how to overcome them). The health benefits of each movement are also includes, along with real students’ experiences of the postures.