I realise that I am in danger of becoming a yoga bore.
So I promise this will be the last time I mention it.
For a little while a least.
But I have been asked for recommendations for books on yoga.
And given that I’m a Librarian with a degree in history, my ability to source books on yoga far surpasses my ability to actually do it :-)
So coming at this as a complete beginner, the following have been really useful additions to the bookshelf.
And I’m sure sitting reading them with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit counts towards self practice time.
Svadhyaya, (tick), Pratyahara (tick), dharana (tick)
See, well on the way to enlightenment already.
Books to help with the Physical Practice
The Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual by David Swenson. I’ve found this absolutely invaluable. Clear photos and written descriptions of the asanas, together with variations for the more flexibly challenged. I still struggle with so many of the postures but at least with this book my brain can get what I’m supposed to be doing even if my body isn’t interested in joining in yet.
Yoga Mala by the originator of Ashtanga Yoga, Pattabhi Jois. If I’m honest I really prefer David Swensons book, but it is interesting to read a text that weaves together the physical and spiritual elements of the practice. And makes incredible claims for the healing power of yoga.
Having freaky fingers that bend the wrong way and are also double jointed I am fascinated by mudras.
Yay, postures I have half a chance of being able to do.
This is a really good introduction to a selection of the hundreds of different hand positions that focus on different physical, mental and spiritual attributes. Nice clear photos and written descriptions.
Still working my way through this one. But as I am trying develop both a daily asana self-practice , and to integrate other elements of yoga into my life, this is a useful set of pointers and discussions.
I love this book, it really makes me laugh (the description of the young boy who claimed to have awoken his Kundalini energy being given a good slap and told to get a grip by Iyengar is particularly memorable) as well as being thought-provoking and full of wisdom. This is absolutely fascinating. A bit “photo-journalist”, but given it’s a topic I knew little about that was fine. The photos are amazing, and the descriptions of how these men (and it is largely men) live and journey towards enlightenment are even more so. A word of warning, if you are male and read this book, be aware that some of the photos (I’m thinking in particular of one that shows them lifting heavy stones without using their normal four limbs) will make your eyes water.
Be Here Now by Ram Dass. Well, I’ve included this because it comes under the heading of “interesting”.
Dass was a renowned Harvard academic & psychologist who worked with Timothy Leary “researching” the use of mind altering substances such as LSD.
Not sure how academically rigorous the research actually was.
Anyway, the first part of the book is a really interesting autobiographical description of Dass seeking spiritual enlightenment, first through psychology, then through drugs, and then through his wanderings in India. This is absolutely fascinating.
The second part of the book is a series of stream-of-consciousness statements and drawings which I must admit I struggled with as it reminded me too much of some “deep and meaningful” album covers I spent too much time analysing as an angst-ridden teen goth.
Lots of people swear by it as a starting point for their own spiritual journey.
but I think I’ll stick with The Sisters of Mercy
I’m just starting on this, but have high hopes it will prevent a recurrence of the hair ball incident (see previous post) and my tendency to sound like Darth Vader during his death scene in Star Wars VI.
Who knew there would be such a rich seam of yogic fic. to tap into?
Yes it’s chick lit, but it’s very very funny. And the descriptions of the heroines first forays into a yoga class are hilarious.
And so true to life.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it so good, and as someone who struggles with meditation this did offer hope that if I persevere one day my mind may stay focused for longer than three seconds (and yep, See previous posts about meditation)
I really hated this book. But if you like the sort of self-obsessed, narcissistic works of Eat, Pray, Love and the like then you’ll probably like this. Marketing executive decides there is more to life than image and goes off in search of enlightenment by staying in posh ashrams with beautiful people. It made me so cross I gave up half way through, but perhaps it gets better later on.
And just to finish off….Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a sister discipline to yoga. It works on the assumption that we have different body types, made up of a mixture of the doshas vata, pitta and kapha. If these doshas become imbalanced then you will have illness -physical, mental or spiritual. Ayurveda is a system designed to help you keep your life in balance.
There are much more complete guides to Ayurveda out there. But if you want a light, easy introduction to the topic, this is a good staring point.