Nowadays a lot of content about the yoga practice is shown on youtube videos. Nevertheless, a good book is not easy to replace. Here are now my book recommendations. With a click on the cover photo you come directly to Amazon’s page. So if you are interested, you can order the respective book online.
Sivananda Yoga Centre, Yoga
This book is one of the best guide in the market. It impresses with a beautiful, varied graphic design. It contains a clear presentation of basic and advanced yoga āsana. There is also information on breathing, nutrition and meditation. A section on the topic of health and yoga practice in the different phases of life is not missing.
Light on Yoga, B K S Iyengar
B. K. S. Iyengar, the great yoga master, died 93-years-old in 2014. His book has been constantly reissued since 1966. For today’s technical conditions, the many black and white photos contained therein could appear small and blurred. Nevertheless, they may well be called an indispensable treasure for the yoga world. Iyengar has come a long way in his ambitious goal of demonstrating perfect āsana. Furthermore, the book contains a presentation of 200 yoga positions.
Hatha Yoga: The hidden language, Swami Sivananda Radha
Born in 1911, Swami Sivananda Radha witnessed both world wars in Berlin. Later she emigrated to Canada. At that time she was still called Sylvia Hellmann and had lost two husbands at a young age. She was able to discover the meaning of life when she met Swami Sivananda Saraswati in India. So she has become his student. In her books, she places emphasis on the inner, spiritual side of yoga. Thus, in this book, she describes the symbolism of the Yoga āsana. She shows ways on how to practice yoga with spiritual reflection and intuitive perception.
The Spiritualising of the Body, Heinz Grill
In this book the author describes an artistic-spiritual path with yoga. The descriptions of different basic and advanced positions do not disregard practical considerations. But these practical points are integrated into a kind of view that focuses on spiritual progress in the practitioner’s efforts. Advanced practitioners find in the book both content-related mental stimulation as well as exercise sequences. This sequences are attuned to the character of the particular Yoga positions.
The Soul Dimension of Yoga, Heinz Grill
In this yoga guide the author develops an approach to the practice of yoga, which works “from top to bottom”. That means to work from mental images and mental contents to the body. It is intended to stimulate not so much the rapid technical progress as inner psychic growth in connection with the practice of Yoga-āsana. But it seems as if the consideration of inner development leads to a better gripping and shaping of the body. The author shows with a lot of beautiful photos how a yoga exercise can become an expression of the profound soul dimension.
Swami Vishnu-Devananda, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
This book by Swami Vishnu-Devananda, the student of the great yoga master Swami Sivananda Saraswati, dates back to 1959. It is aimed at yoga enthusiasts in the Western world and was written by Vishnu-Devananda soon after his arrival in the United States. Apart from the many descriptions and fotos of Yoga-āsana, the in-depth chapters on the astral body, the Absolute and the concept of prakriti, as well as the notion of the self of man are very enlightening.
Yoga in Daily Life – the System, Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda
In this guide the traditional way of yoga is divided into an 8-level training system, which is aimed specifically at western yoga practitioners. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, who was born in 1945, is an Indian yoga master who came to Vienna in Austria in 1972, where he founded the International Sri Deep Madhavananda Ashram Fellowship. With his System he want to show the universal yoga path in it’s completeness of Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Hatha Yoga.
Meditation and Mantras, Swami Vishnu-devananda
Who is interested in meditation, finds in this book a comprehensive and clear presentation of those types of meditation that emerge from the different yoga paths. The author’s concern is to “create order” in the confusion that exists over the field of meditation. Apart from the various meditation techniques which were presentated in the book, he also dedicates two chapters to the various experiences and obstacles that the meditators encounter on their way.
Health, Healing, and Beyond: Yoga and the Living Tradition of T. Krishnamacharya, T. K. V. Desikachar
The author of this book is not only the founder of Viniyoga, but also the son of the famous yoga master Krishnamacharya (1888 – 1989!). The book is therefore a biography of his father’s life and teachings. Krishnamacharya was known as a great healer, and thanks to the generosity of the Maharaja in whose district he lived, he was able to revitalize the ancient yoga culture in India. Other than his son were Sri Patthabi Jois, founder of Ashtanga Yoga, and his brother-in-law B.K.S. Iyengar his most famous students.
Light on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo
Like the yoga guide from Iyengar there is also a booklet by Sri Aurobindo titled “Light on Yoga” which was first edited in 1935. This title was probably written both by B.K.S. Iyengar as well as chosen by Sri Aurobindo in reference to the so-called yoga sutras Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Patanjali. The Sanskrit word pradipika has exactly this meaning “light on …” The light that Sri Aurobindo now throws on the Yoga, has little to do with physical exercises and is dedicated entirely to the question of the Higher Self of man. The book contains excerpts from his letters to students.
Vedanta: Voice of Freedom, Swami Vivekananda
With this book, Swami Chetananda made the difficult task of putting together texts from the comprehensive work of Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902), which in total can give an introduction to the Vedanta. The reader will find there, in addition to the important theoretical and practical concepts about the divine, man and the world, descriptions of the meaning of the great yoga paths Bhakti-Yoga, Jnana-Yoga, Karma-Yoga and Raja-Yoga.
Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
This is the updated edition of the aforementioned book, “Yoga,” published by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. The contents have been slightly modified, for example, a section on the impact of yoga exercises on the various muscle parts of the body has been added. The book is organized around the five principles: proper relaxation, proper exercises, proper breathing, proper nutrition and positive thinking and meditation. The latest edition dates from 2018.
Harmony in Breathing, Heinz Grill
While most traditionally oriented yoga paths teach the breathing exercises of prāṇāyāma, Heinz Grill has developed a new way of handling the breath during the execution of yoga āsana: the Free Way of Breathing is based on the issue that the Man should not interfere with their consciousness in the breath as an autonomous process, so as not to generate disturbances in mental development. The book contains short sequences of traditional and new exercises to guide you to a real experience of the cosmic dimension of breathing.
The Illustrated Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar
With this book, published in the year 2000, the yoga master Iyengar promises to give a step-by-step introduction to the yoga practice. You will find about 57 of the original yoga photos from the book “Light on Yoga” and a graduated program for 35 weeks of practice or, in other words, 35 steps on the way from beginners to intermediate level. So it is a usefully book for those who want to practise at home with only a few teacher contacts or people who are just in a Iyengar Stile yoga group. The book includes also a chapter with explanations of sanscrit terms.
Image source (19-03-01): Amazon.com