Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My recommended Yoga Reading List

A few students have asked me to recommend some books on the topic of Iyengar Yoga, so here goes:

 Yoga, The Iyengar Way by Silva Mehta is one of the first yoga books I ever bought, so will always have a special place in my heart.  It is not overwhelmingly thick, but rather a manageable and satisfying read which is not at all high-brow. I happen to like the dated photographs (think Jane Fonda-esque leotards and tights), and the bite-size chunks of text. Everything about this book is perfect for beginners, including step-by-step guides, brilliant photographs of beautifully executed poses and sequences to try at home.

  Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar  is full of photographs, detailing a 360 degree view of a huge number of poses. Step-by-step instructions guide you into each pose, and there are lots of sequences to get you started on a home practice. The introduction is a fascinating read, including information about BKS Iyengar and his path to (and through) yoga. Of particular value is the list of ailments at the back of the book - and suggested poses (plus poses that are contraindicated). This is a chunky, A4 book which I hope will aid your self-practice as it did mine.

A book invaluable to women who are trying to conceive, or are pregnant is Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood: Safe Practice for Expectant and New Mothers. It is written by BKS Iyengar's daughter, Geeta. It is everything it says in the title. A brilliant book, but no substitute for the guidance of an experienced teacher, better to be used alongside.

If you are looking for something containing more about yogic philosophy, and yoga as a way of life then the classic Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar is the one. This is not a book to try to read from cover to cover. It is one I dip in and out of, but return to again and again. This is considered by many as the Yoga Bible, and number one on the reading list of most yoga teacher training courses. With over 200 poses photographed and described, it is a brilliant combination of fodder for the mind, body and spirit. Every time I pick it up I learn something new, or see something from a different perspective. It really does shed light on yoga, in all it's forms. A desert island book to keep you thinking, feeling motivated and inspired.

A snuggle up in front of the fire for a couple of hours book is Light on Life by BKS Iyengar. Mr Iyengar was an extraordinarily enlightened person with a gift for putting into words the indefinable. His passion, joy and spirit come across in this book as he gives examples from his own life. He shares his wisdom and experience in such a way that I frequently put the book down and soak up his nuggets of pure gold. I want to say that I find this book easy to read, but I don't want that to put you off and for you to assume that means it is basic, because it is not. It is just written so well! He explores the yogic goal of integrating mind, body, soul and emotions. He explains how the yoga postures and breathing (pranayama) help us move towards that goal, and how yoga can help us to live more harmoniously.  Pure genius.

Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar is one for students who have some experience of the physical practice of yoga and are interested in the art of breathing. The text is beautifully written and the sequences are fantastic. Not one for absolute beginners, in my humble opinion.

This next book is one I hope to grow into. From the moment I first opened it, I found Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar hard going, and yet I still return to it every so often. I am unashamed to say I don't understand much of it, indeed I like the fact that much of it eludes me. Perhaps it is the complexity and deeply philosophical nature that I find so alluring and mysterious, It is the antidote to a thoroughly modern life, and a bridge to the ancient art and history of yoga.

If there are any books on the topic of yoga that you would like to recommend please add your comments below.


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