Below is a selection of some good yoga books suggested by us at Jhula Yoga, chosen from different catagories: the history of MPY (Modern Postural Yoga); general books for practitioners; books from related disciplines; yoga anatomy books.
The History of Modern Postural Yoga
Elizabeth De Michelis
A history of modern Yoga
A foundational text in modern yoga scholarship from 2005
Yoga Body – the origins of modern posture practice
A very influential text in modern yoga research from 2010 – a must read!
David Gordon White
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – A Biography
Important book on the (often very surprising) reception history of the Yoga Sutras. A must read if you want to better understand the complexity of modern yoga history.
David Gordon White (editor)
Yoga in Practice
An excellent guide to the wider context from which modern yoga has emerged, including early Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Islamic and Tantric traditions.
Mark Singleton and Ellen Goldberg (editors)
The Gurus of Modern Yoga
A broad and fascinating survey of the many and various gurus of the modern yoga scene, including Sri Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Shri Yogendra, as well as Tantric gurus, and better known more recent figures such as Krishnamacharya, the teacher of Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.
The Path of Modern Yoga – The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice
Very recent (published September 2016) and comprehensive study of the history of modern postural yoga. Well worth a read! Gives you a very comprehensive view of the development of modern postural yoga that we practice in the West.
Threads of Yoga
Brilliant and astonishing ‘remixing’ of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Making them relevant for modern times. I’m coming to the conclusion that Matthew Remski is maybe a bit of a genius.
David Gordon White (Editor)
Yoga: The Art of Transformation
A beautiful book showing visual art related to yoga from across the centuries, also with a number of very good essays and contributions from well known scholars on different aspects of yoga’s history.
James Mallinson and Mark Singleton
Roots of Yoga
Published January 2017.
A comprehensive and unique collection of new translations of ancient source texts relating to yoga from across many traditions, with a very interesting introduction. The antidote to modern postural yogas strange obsession with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras?
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
An interesting book – charts the experience of psychotherapist Stephen Cope’s journey through 10 intense years of yoga practice. Written very much from the angle of privileged wealthy and educated elites in the US, without really being conscious of the fact, so it’s a bit short on insight, but interesting if you can put up with that. But make sure you read the whole thing – it’s the latter third of the book where he brings everything together and there’s a plot twist.
Excellent book on a sophisticated feminist approach to yoga published 2015.
It’s about yoga as a practice that embraces bodily and environmental cycles, the celebration of the goddess, and the suppression of the goddess principle in culture and history.
Science and Research on Yoga and Mind/body
William J. Broad
The Science of Yoga
Good book looking critically at the many and varied claims of yoga practitioners from a scientific research perspective. Written by a well known Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist who has also practiced yoga since the 1970s. The initial chapter ‘Health’ also contains a very good and concise survey of the history of yoga.
Bessel Van Der Kolk
The Body Keeps the Score
Amazing book on PTSD, trauma generally in society, yoga, theatre, psychiatry, neuroscience, ritual and religion and more. Really worth reading!!
Trauma and Recovery
Key text on the subject of psychological trauma, complex PTSD and the body. Published in 1992 and ground breaking at the time.
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy
Published 2015, David Emerson worked with Bessel Van Der Kolk, director of the higlyrespected Trauma Centre in Boston, USA, to develop yoga working with people suffering from PTSD
General books for practitioners
The Heart of Yoga – Developing a personal practice
A detailed and sensitive introduction to yoga from the later years of Krishnamacharya teaching, written by his son. (Krishnamacharya was the teacher of Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar early in his teaching career). So it is limited in that it’s exclusively from that perspective – but a good representation of that perspective nonetheless. Also contains a useful full translation and concise commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Written by Krishnamacharya’s son.
Yoga For You
An excellent all round introduction to yoga. The first book on yoga I bought, and possibly the best all-round guide I’ve found.
Moving Toward Balance
An excellent and thorough book with a detailed 8 week program – for beginners to the more advanced student alike.
Related Somatic Disciplines
Foundational text of Hanna’s Somatics.
The Use of the Self
The foundational text of Alexander Technique
Awareness Through Movement
Key text for the Feldenkrais movement.
Functional Anatomy of Yoga
I’ve read a lot of anatomy books, and this one is the best I’ve come across. David Keil also has good online courses and DVDs that can be used with the book.
The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga
Super detailed, if you really want to get your head round the science of anatomy at a deeper level.