My Top 5 books to make your yoga BETTER
In my yoga classes, I make many references to body parts, muscle names, physical benefits. I love anatomy and physiology because the body is the most amazing fantastical thing.
I always use positive affirmations and quotes, not only because the are so especially helpful when the mind is in a heightened state of relaxation but because I love them.
I LOVE WORDS.
I also try to weave as much of the ancient philosophical teachings that I am aware of into my classes. And so here I pose a confession;
My yoga practise is far less on my mat than off it. Shock horror.
In the beginning, the physical poses were so important to me and during my teacher training it was recommended to have a 6 day a week personal practice and we were encouraged to journal about it.
I love this discipline and still maintain it now but I notice my own time on the mat feels different now.
Oftentimes, I rock up not for myself but to practise a sequence I have tailored for a forthcoming class or workshop. I need to be able to feel how it flows before I lead a group of people through the shapes. Now, this is not ideal because my mind chatters. Don’t get me wrong I do practise yoga A LOT, but it’s more when the moment takes me. For example, I take a lot longer to tie my shoe laces whilst I enjoy a nice uttanasana. Urdhva hastasana wakes me up in the kitchen in the morning as I wait for the kettle to boil. Sometimes, even virabhadrasana sneaks up on me when I’m pegging our laundry. Each time a yoga pose surprises me, I let it come and stay there as long as I’m blissfully able to get away with it.
Anyhoo, I digress.
What I love the MOST about how my yoga practise has evolved is the way that it affects my LIFE and that has come about through my creaking bookshelf. I love to learn other people’s interpretations about this ancient yoga stuff and many people, also eager to learn, have asked me which books I might recommend as reading for them.
Allow me to share a few of these jewels with you...
1. Yamas & Niyamas; Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice ~ Deborah Adele
I used to be so precious about keeping books in mint condition (thanks Grandad), but my copy of this book has tatty corners, a creased front sleeve, many, many pink and yellow lines of highlighter and more than a fair few Post-It Note page markers.
Each of the five Yamas and Niyamas are explained in their own chapter with real words and there are exercises at the end of each chapter offering ideas of how you can incorporate them into your own life. Just fabulous.
2. Yoga Anatomy ~ Leslie Kaminoff
This book is a delight if you love the mechanics of the body! I had a copy of this book YEARS before I even thought about yoga teacher training and was so excited to see it on the required reading list of my course. Each pose is hand drawn detailing the active muscles. Helpfully, it has the English and Sanskrit names along with the phonetic pronunciation which helps you swot up and get to grips with the words your yoga teacher is saying. The poses are super-helpfully categorised by type eg standing poses, seated, arm balances etc It does have some technical jargon there, but don’t be afraid of it; they’re just words.
3. True Yoga; Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment ~ Jennie Lee
Another absolute beaut of a book! (And I love the colours and pattern on the sleeve). This is another toga teacher’s interpretation of the tenets of the Yamas and Niyamas, so, so helpful! In just the same way that I get to know yoga poses differently by listening to different teaching tips or queues, I understand the Yamas and Niyamas at a deeper level by listening to different takes on them. These golden rules for a happy life were passed down from an age so far removed from the way we live now, it would be impossible to live them in exactly the way they were perhaps intended, but the intention is there and we can adapt them to our modern living.
4. The Universe Has Your Back ~ Gabrielle Bernstein
I used to doggedly and stubbornly stay with a book until the very end even if I didn't like it. I've let that schizz go now and as a result, I get so excited about books that I often have more than one on the go at a time. Sometimes taking a while to or not even getting to the end. (Don't judge me!) But I found myself really drawn into this book which discusses the Law of Attraction and why it's so important to express gratitude. Granted, it does have a fair few 'hippy' ways of thinking and lots of references to religion, but if that's not your bag, try to not let that get in the way of the overall message of the book. I finished reading this (in one go, I'll have you know) around 8 months before writing this blog post and the concepts are still very fresh in my mind and I draw on those as I'm planning my yoga classes. I've probably even paraphrased sections during my teachings.
5. Yoni Shakti ~ Uma Dinsmore-Tulli PhD
Oh please heavens, may I one day study with Dr Uma!!!
This is a real chunk of a book with so much valuable content; the concepts contained even within the first couple of chapters had me hooked. Yoni Shakti translates as feminine energy and I was first introduced to it during my pre-natal yoga teacher training. Dr Uma offers the wisdom that not all practices are for all bodies. Indeed, the fluctuations of the seasons of a woman's life require different movements and practises to accommodate not just pregnancy and childbirth, but menstruation, fertility, menopause, post-pregnancy and lactation. I am so into empowerment, (not just for women, let's not continue the sexism here!) and so I continue to enjoy the treasure this book offers.
So, there you have it.
My lovely reader, thank you for reaching the bottom of this post; I do hope you enjoyed it! Tell me if you did! Let’s get social; like, comment and share it with anyone else who might enjoy. Have I missed your favourite off my list? My reading wish list is ever growing so I’d be grateful if your suggestions if you’ve come across any good ones.
Love & light to you, my friend.