I often get asked for book recommendations for improving a physical yoga (yogasana) practice. Without hesitation, I recommend yoga teaching books. You may be surprised that I would suggest that you read books meant for teachers, but they are loads smarter and more interesting than your everyday how-to yoga book. While a book meant for a consumer audience gives you basic alignment and a little filler for a pose like Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), a teacher’s book provides detailed posture descriptions with pictures and illustrations, health benefits, cautions/contraindications, verbal cues that a teacher might use, modifications, variations, teacher assists and adjustments, anatomy, and kinematics. If you learn and practice as a teacher would, it will significantly enhance your home and in-class practices by unpacking teacher cues and adjustments. Being able to modify a pose as needed and explore variations is not only satisfying but empowering. You’ll learn when a posture may be inappropriate for you. And you may well become versed, not only in the Sanskrit names of asanas (postures), but in the language of anatomy as well. One of my favorite sections of a yoga teaching book is sequencing. I love to see how other teachers craft a class and I like practicing a sequence that a different body’s intelligence inspired.
Of course, asanas are just one part of a yoga teaching book. There is so much more including yoga history and philosophy; chakras (energy); meditation, pranayama (breathwork)….
My Favorite Yoga Teaching Books (in no particular order)
Instructing Hatha Yoga by Kathy Lee Kappmeier and Diane M. Ambrosini
Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques by Mark Stephens
Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox by Joseph and Lilian Le Page
The following may not technically be teacher books, but they have informed my practice and teaching immeasurably.
Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann
Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika by B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH by B.K.S. Iyengar
The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle by Bobby Clennell (don’t let the title deter you; this is my personal favorite for detailed illustrations of Iyengar’s postures and prop use. It is truly one of the best books out there for learning Iyengar alignment and is absolutely relevant for men in this regard!)
I had to stop myself here before I listed the entire contents of my yoga library!