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Essential Yoga Reading List

From Scandalous History to Chakra Philosophy, Nine Books to Round Out Your Yoga Practice

In anticipation of all of those blissful, unscheduled self-care hours you’ve set aside for yourself this year (right?), here are a few yoga-ish books to nourish your soul.

  • The Goddess Pose. This fascinating account of a globetrotting, Russian cabaret performer who charms her way into Krishnamacharya’s studio in India and brings his teachings to Western starlets like Greta Garbo is all the more enticing for being true. Michelle Goldberg’s biography of Indra Devi, née Eugenia Peterson, is as good as any Netflix binge.

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  • Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar. All of Iyengar’s books are worth a read, but this one is the culmination of his many, many years of devoted practice and self-inquiry. And it is full of quotable gems: “Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”  
  • Autobiography of a Yogi. Spiritual seeker Paramahansa Yogananda shares his inspiring story with plenty of humor, deep insight and guest appearances from some of the 20th century’s spiritual illuminati.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even if you haven’t read Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto, you probably know the drill: Throw out everything. Okay, not really, but Kondo insists our items pass the joy test — Do these socks spark joy? — or else send them packing. Decluttering is a practice, and the quote below is proof enough that Kondo’s a yogi:

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“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

 

  • Siddhartha. Hermann Hesse’s tale of a young man on the path of self-discovery is a classic. Set in ancient India, Hesse’s hero renounces his possessions, wanders as a beggar, meditates intensely and finds his spiritual teacher. But he’s not satisfied! With meta questions still looming, Siddhartha reenters the world and continues his spiritual quest. Adventures await.
  • How To Eat. One in a series of Mindfulness Essentials by beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, How To Eat is a travel-sized — and beautifully illustrated — compendium of short meditations designed to enhance and unclutter our relationship with food, from growing it to cleaning up after eating it.

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