In this month's Teachers' Thoughts we asked
What are your favorite yoga/meditation/wisdom/inspiration books and why?
Without any hesitation: "Light on Life" by B.K.S. Iyengar. I bought it 13 years ago when I started yoga. I then lost it when I moved country and bought it again!
What I love about "Light on Life" is that it is very accessible. B.K.S. Iyengar uses simple personal examples, often with humour, to teach key concepts. He says in the book's introduction that "It aims to map out a path that all may follow. It offers advice, methods, and a philosophical framework at a level that even a newcomer to the practice of yoga may grasp." And that's exactly what it does!
“I am that” from Sri Nisgardatta Maharaj - So beautiful, so true, not an easy read, but will stay interesting for the rest of your life!
Anything from Ramana Maharashi - loving, wise and understandable.
I keep coming back to “Insight Yoga” from Sarah Powers - great info on Yin Yoga especially.
Inside the Yoga sutras from either Swami Satchitananda or Jaganath Carrera - If yoga is your path, read the yoga sutras!
“Moving into Stillness” By Erich Schiffmann - one of the first books I read, I learned so much from it, it still influences my teaching now.
Right now, much of my inspiration comes from Tantric philosophy teacher Douglas Brooks. I have some lectures of his that I frequently listen to and they are so rich, I keep coming back to them over and over again and gain an new insight every time.
For my Yoga Therapy, I rely on my Anusara training books and notes and Doug Keller's book "Yoga as Therapy" and Thomas Meyer's "Anatomy Trains." I have just started Sally Kempton's book "Awakening the Shakti" and already it is captivating me!
Apart from that, it is life itself that inspires me; things that happen, conversations that I have with people often stir my curiosity and become a source that inspire my practice and teaching.
"How Yoga Works" by Geshe Michael Roach - Amazingly deep profound wisdom presented in a very entertaining fiction story.
"The Yogis Roadmap" by Bhavani Maki - Amazingly deep profound wisdom presented in a tangible and accessible modern day fashion. Chapters of the Sutras are broken down into modern day examples and the writing is excellent.
"Tree of Yoga" by BKS Iyengar - This classic analogy of the path of Yoga is like a tree, it holds so much inherent insight that it is truly timeless.
Fire of Love by Aadil Palkhivala - He is a genius (in my opinion!) and this book captures many aspects of deep truth on the varied path of Yoga.
Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho - Every chapter of this entertaining book is a lifetime of Yoga philosophy in daily life application.
One of my favorite books is 'Pointers From Nisargadatta Maharaj' by Ramesh S. Balsekar. It is funny, enlightening and has a hidden power to lift the veils of ignorance. The first time I read it, was about 15 years ago on a winter holiday in France. I was at that time in intense daily meditations, combined with being outside in nature most of the day. The book opened my eyes. It was like every tree, every piece of the mountain talked to me about the truth of reality, recognizing in a flash what Nisargadata was talking of. I have reread the book many times, and it never lost its freshness.
Another book that is in my hands very often is 'Finding Clarity' by my teacher Jeru Kabbal. Where Nisargadatta sort of rips the veil away, Jeru very gently explains to you what creates the veil and how you can help relax the deeper mind yourself, so it will be open to step out of the way when perceiving reality. Where Nisargadatta works on the plane of bare naked truth, Jeru works on the plane of the Bodhisattva. Nisargadatta kind of threw me through the door, as where Jeru helped me find my way myself. If you are interested in understanding yourself more, and finding a gentle honest way to truth, I can highly recommend it!
For me it’s the source books like Hathapradipika, Avadhuta Gita, Yogasutras, Mahasatipatthana sutta, Dhammapada, Shiva Samhita and the scholarly works on Indian philosophies. Why? They provide the raw uncensored truth about the various traditions.
"Yoga for a World Out Of Balance" by Michael Stone.
This book is truly inspiring. It's the first yoga book that I've found that really talks about how to take your Yoga practice off the mat and into your everyday life. He brings in philosophy, ethics, social and cultural perspectives in a very easy to read style. I often refer to it when teaching and this quote is one of my favourites:
"No matter how many times we finish a meal and wash the dishes, another meal brings more dishes. The practice is never complete. When we give up the notion that practice leads to something, we find a stack of dishes right in front of us. The stack of dishes is our practice. Whether those dishes consist of back bending, parenting, chopping wood or fixing a tire, this is our practice in the moment. To be fully in each moment, both stillness and action arise side by side. Practice moves back and forth between the two because yoga is nothing more than what's happening right here and right now."
His other book "The Inner Tradition of Yoga" is also excellent if you want to delve deeper into Yoga philosophy and psychology. Very much food for the thinking Yogi.
My all time favourite book and first ever Yoga book is "Moving Into Stillness" by Erich Schiffmann. Anyone who really truly wants to understand what Yoga is should read this book. I return to it time after time and always find something new to inspire me. Again easy to understand and has asana practice and sequences in it to so is also a practical guide. This book has everything.
I'm reading quite a bit by Alan Watts at the moment.
"The Book" are his philosophical musings and is well worth a read if you are interested in Philosophy. He doesn't lean in one direction or another but puts across a good balanced understanding which really makes a lot of sense.
As far as inspirational words anything by Rumi is wonderful.. "Bridge to the Soul" is fantastic. Rumi lifts me up anytime of the day and I'm always astonished that he was writing this stuff over 800 years ago.
Whew... tough question! I've read so many amazingly inspiring books, but here's a short list of my favorites:
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – translated by Sri Swami Satchidananada. My favorite translation of these inspiring words.
How Yoga Works – Geshe Michael Roach & Lama Christie McNally. A novel that explains clearly what yoga is and how it works.
It’s Here Now (Are You?) – Bhagavan Das. One of those books you just have to read in one day.
Jivamukti Yoga – Sharon Gannon & David Life. A very complete overview on all aspects of yoga.
The Red Book - Sera Beak. Sparkling spirituality for women (oh well… and men too).
The Hope - Andrew Harvey. A must read for everyone who breathes. Yogi(ni) or not.
I quite like "The Power of Now" by Ekhart Tolle, it's a clear and inspirational book to go deeper into the journey toward our selves.
I keep on going back to Sarah Powers "Insight Yoga" for wonderful sequences and thoughts on Yin and Yang Yoga.
I also enjoy Donna Farhi's writing style: her "Yoga, Mind, Body, Spirit" is always a reference and I really appreciate "Bringing Yoga to life", where yoga is expanded beyond the asana and beyond the mat. Also her "Teaching Yoga" is very enlightening if you are a yoga teacher...
I have been reading many, many books on the subject of spirituality, but I always find it strangely difficult to recommend one. Perhaps because every book sparked something, but never covers the whole "load"...Things people write can resonate deep within, suddenly opening a door that was ready to open. And this is of course very personal. Having said this, here's some of the books that come up that inspired me: "The wonder of being" by Jeff Foster, I love his clear, poetic style of writing.
"Emptiness dancing" by Adiashanti, a spiritual teacher with a clear voice.
"I am life itself" by Unmani Liza Hyde, an intimate little book with beautiful insights.
And something I really liked: a "book" by Lisa Esile, called "Seven secrets your mind doesn't want to know", a brilliant short writing about how the mind works. It's for free, you can download it on her website.
If you have a suggestion for a question you would like to put to the teachers please let us know in the comments.