Here is the complete required and recommended reading list for my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Programs. I’ve added a few honorable mentions in addition to my reading list, plus some insights into why I like or recommend these books.
Required Yoga Texts:
Since I host my yoga teacher trainings in Thailand, I decided to limit the required texts to just two books. It’s hard enough to pack for an entire month without bringing a bunch of books halfway across the planet.
Considering that there are so many good books on yoga, this may seem like an impossible choice to make. However, I chose Light on Yoga, and the Bhagavad Gita for these reasons based on my opinions:
- Light On Yoga: by B.K.S. Iyengar – Light on Yoga is the most thorough and complete book on the practice of asana, and as new yoga teachers, this is what my students will be primarily concerned with. In the training, we cover in extreme detail, how to use this book as a resource in learning how to teach poses, and how to sequence classes.
- Bhagavad Gita: (Eknath Easwaran translation recommended) – The Bhagavad Gita is without question one of the most important spiritual books ever written. The narrative of this story contains all of the clues an aspiring yogi needs in order to live a yogic lifestyle in this complicated and conflicting modern world. Eknath Easwaran’s translation really helps to place this in a context that is understandable in this era.
Note: My students have arrived with versions of Light on Yoga that have different covers. As far as I can tell, there is not much difference from version to version other than the page numbers that you’ll find things on. Here is an image of the different covers you might come across.
Recommended Reading List:
- Poised For Grace: Douglas Brooks (A Bhagavad Gita Compendium) – This book is meant to be read chapter for chapter along with the Bhagavad Gita, and in addition to Eknath Easwaran’s brilliant commentary, really helps to place things in context and layman’s terms.
- Light on Pranayama: B.K.S. Iyengar – As detailed as Light on Yoga is for Asana, Light on Pranayama is for yoga breathing techniques.
- Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: B.K.S. Iyengar – The Yoga Sutras can be very dry and boring to read depending on the translation you have. Many translations fail to connect with the average reader in their scholarly approach. Iyengar’s approach is that of the student and practitioner. He provides insights to these sutras as only someone who has lived their entire life living and embodying them could. You’ll find the original Sanskrit, Iyengar’s direct translation, and additional commentary on each one.
- The Key Muscles of Yoga: Scientific Keys Volume I: Ray Long MD – The Key Muscles of Yoga, and it’s counterpart, the Key Poses of Yoga do an amazing job of helping students to visualize the muscles and how they’re being activated within the context of a yoga pose. With the incredible images in these books, students can clearly see the relationship between anatomy and asana.
- The Key Poses of Yoga: Scientific Keys Volume II: Ray Long MD
- The Hatha Yoga Pradipika: translated by Brian Akers – The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is an important classical yoga text in that it provides some of the first instances where actual postures and breathing techniques that we now associate with yoga are explained.
- Autobiography of a Yogi: Paramahansa Yogananda – The incredible story of this yogi’s life bridges the old world with the modern era, and Eastern Philosophy with Western understanding. As you follow Yogananda’s story, this book will awaken within you the desire to seek out your next Guru, whose knowledge and experience will provide insight to furthering your path of yoga.
- Chakra Yoga: Anodea Judith – This book is an excellent guide for teachers who are trying to figure out how to connect metaphysical energy aspects of yoga with the physical practice.
- Cool Yoga Tricks: Miriam Austin – A fantastic resource that covers how to modify all kinds of poses with different props for all types of bodies, contraindications, and misalignments.
Additional Yoga Books:
While I did not refer to these books for source information while I was developing my yoga teacher training program, I have since considered them to be extremely valuable resources, and I highly recommend adding these to your library of yoga books.
- Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha: Swami Satyananda Saraswati – This book is a wealth of information on hatha yoga, and is often used as “the manual” for many yoga teacher trainings.
- Light on Life: B.K.S. Iyengar – As Iyengar described the physical practice in Light on Yoga, and the energy practice in Light on Pranayama, here he connects you with an understanding of the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development that the yogic tradition can offer.
- Teaching Yoga: Mark Stephens – Like Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, this book is often used as the teaching manual for many yoga teacher trainings. It is a wealth of knowledge regarding the skill of teaching yoga.
- The Yamas & Niyamas: Deborah Adele – A contemporary explanation of how to live the path of yoga as laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
- Yoga Anatomy: Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews – This book is on the reading list of many yoga teacher trainings, and is a must have resource for yoga anatomy.
Are you ready to dive into an intensive yoga teacher training program? Information about my teacher training course, and upcoming dates are here: 200 Yoga Teacher Training.