10 Yoga Books That Belong in Every Yogi's Library

Every yoga lover has her favorite books, the ones that inform, inspire, and educate us on our favorite subject. Ask any yoga expert and you'll get a different selection. For my list, I'm including the reference books that I find myself turning to over and over, the yoga memoirs that I can't put down, the photography that makes my jaw drop, and my pet interest, the fascinating history of how we came to practice yoga the way we do in the 21st century. 

Light on Yoga

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. Penguin Random House

Author: B.K.S. Iyengar

Verywell Light on Yoga Review

B.K.S. Iyengar's classic 1966 book is still the gold standard for its encyclopedic illustration of hundreds of yoga poses and many breathing techniques. A must-have for any yoga practitioner's library. When I came across this book in a second-hand shop a few months before I took my first yoga class, I was quietly blown away. It's not flashy but it is powerful. I still look at it all the time.

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Yoga The Iyengar Way

Yoga: The Iyengar Way
Yoga: The Iyengar Way. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Authors: Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta

I consider this a complement to Iyengar's Light on Yoga. Key poses are covered and the large color photographs and explicit alignment points make it a more accessible companion volume. The authors have impeccable Iyengar credentials. The photos may look a little dated (unitards!), but I prefer them to the "sexy" photos so often seen in more recent books. 

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Yoga Anatomy

Review - Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Authors: Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Verywell Yoga Anatomy Review

This book's unique strength is its illustrations. Rendered through a process of photography, medical illustration, and digital media, each pose is shown from the inside out with the pertinent anatomy highlighted. The muscular skeletal actions of the body in each pose are also described in detail and Kaminoff's expertise on the diaphragm and breathing are extremely valuable. I keep this book close at hand when I'm writing about yoga poses. 

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Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses

Poser by Claire Dederer
Poser by Claire Dederer. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Author: Claire Dederer

An outstanding entry in the increasingly popular yoga memoir genre, this book sets itself apart with truly good writing. I especially recommend this book to mothers who have struggled with finding balance in their lives after having children. (Hint: yoga helps.)

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Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice

Yoga Body by Mark Singleton
Yoga Body by Mark Singleton. Courtesy of Oxford University Press

Author: Mark Singleton

A fascinating look into the history of yoga asana by scholar Mark Singleton. This book is a real game changer, taking everything you thought you knew about yoga's roots in ancient India and turning it on its ear. You'll find yourself questioning a lot of the conventional wisdom you hear in yoga classes after reading this. 

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Cool Yoga Tricks

Cool Yoga Tricks by Miriam Austin
Cool Yoga Tricks by Miriam Austin. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Author: Miriam Austin
Verywell Cool Yoga Tricks Review

This book is perfect for a beginner who wants to practice at home because it offers creative adaptations of many poses using props such as chairs, blocks, blankets, and straps. Instead of showing super flexible advanced yogis in gravity-defying poses, it offers practical advice for real people. It is also ideal for yoga teachers because it is full of ideas students will love.

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Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful

Bountiful. Beautiful, Blissful
Bountiful. Beautiful, Blissful. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Author: Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Gurmukh is a leading Kundalini yoga teacher who is especially known for her prenatal yoga classes. The yoga in this book is gentle, but the anecdotes and advice for pregnant women are unique in the sea of books about pregnancy. It is empowering for anyone contemplating natural childbirth.

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Yoga by Linda Sparrowe
Yoga by Linda Sparrowe. Courtesy of Amazon.com

 Author: Linda Sparrowe

This beautifully photographed coffee-table style book features some of yoga's leading teachers of the 1990s, including Rodney Yee, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Richard Freeman, and Patricia Walden. Though it offers instructional notes, it's images are its real draw. First published in 2002. 

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Hell Bent by Benjamin Lorr
Hell Bent by Benjamin Lorr. Courtesy of Amazon

Author: Benjamin Lorr
Hell-Bent Review

The subtitle says it all: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga. Well, it almost says it all because this is really a book about Bikram from a good writer with a great sense of humor. 

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The Goddess Pose

The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg
The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg. Alfred A Knopf

Author: Michelle Goldberg
Verywell The Goddess Pose Review

A fascinating look at how yoga made its way into western mainstream culture told through the biography of Indra Devi, one of the first people to teach postural yoga in the United States.

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