Five best yoga books

Here’s my top five yoga books if you fancy something other than a blockbluster for your summer reading this year:

1. Yoga and the quest for the true self – Stephen Cope

This is the book that got me thinking seriously about training as a yoga teacher some years ago. It’s a personal memoir of a psychotherapist’s own journey into yoga. You won’t learn any asana (poses) but might be inspired by the gradual yet profound healing yoga can bring to hurt minds, bodies and spirits. He’s also got a Facebook page.

2. Yoga: the spirit and practice of moving into stillness – Erich Stiffmann

This is a book I come back to again and again. It’s a guide to hatha yoga and meditation by a world-renowned teacher. Its detailed descriptions of asana help you feel a way into poses from the inside. There are pictures to see what they look like, but also frequent reminders to listen to your own body and hints of what you might feel. The guides to meditation were ones that gave me my first glimpses of a creative stillness within. Overall, an accessible way in to yoga philosophy.

3. Mother’s Breath – Uma Dinsmore Tuli

This is the best book on pranayama (breathing) I have ever read. It’s by my antenatal yoga teacher, who co-runs Sitaram partnership, based in south London and Stroud. Don’t worry that it’s designed for pregnancy and childbirth – here are practical and inspirational descriptions of breathing exercises that open up a whole new internal world of the breath. Once I began to explore, my yoga was transformed and I found a new level of awareness and freedom to move and be still.

4. Advancing your yoga practice: the art of slowing down – Susi Hately Aldous and Leonor Mowry

Seven classic hatha yoga poses, such as downward dog, triangle, and warriers I and II – but interspersed with therapeutics to build strength, flexibility and ease. Susi Hately applies a modern understanding of anatomy to the ancient wisdom of yoga and creates a safe and liberating practice free from the aches and pains that plague so many of us – yogis or not. Anyone who has been to my classes in the last year will recognise this approach;  and there’s more to come as I’m just off to do further training with Susi.

Yoga beyond belief: insights to awaken and deepen your practice – Ganga White

Ancient yoga philosophy made meaningful and useful for today. This is a book to pop into when you have a few minutes to spare – you’ll pop out with a profound and practical idea to try out on your yoga. For example, vary which side of your body you use first. If it’s usually the right, try the left. In the process, become aware of your habits and use that mindfulness to make the changes you want. Full of excellent advice on developing a personal yoga practice.

So if you’re off to the beach or have a long flight to get through, ditch the bonk-buster and get your head into some yoga! And if you’d like a gentle one-hour yoga session to practise at home, contact me to order my new CD.

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