Yoga basics

What books do you recommend if a student wants to learn more about the philosophy of yoga?

Ask a Yogi Series

You’ve followed them on Facebook. You might even take their classes in person once in awhile if they travel to or live in your city. But how well do you know our YogaGlo teachers? We’ve created a new series, Ask a Yogi, so you can learn more about them by asking questions you’ve always wanted to ask.

From favorite poses and tips for beginners to deeper questions about how their practice has changed their worldview, our teachers will collectively answer a new question each week. If you have a questions that you’d like to “Ask a Yogi”, let us know in the comments or email us at and we’ll add your question to the list.

Today’s Ask a Yogi question is:

What books do you recommend if a student wants to learn more about the philosophy of yoga?

  • Elena Brower: The Spiritual Roots of Yoga by Ravi Ravindra. Poised for Grace by Dr Douglas Brooks.
  • Tiffany Cruikshank: There are so many but some of my favorites are: Jivamukti Yoga by David Life & Sharon Gannon, The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar and The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein.
  • Steven Espinosa: When I first began diving into yoga philosophy I found Georg Feuerstein’s The Yoga Tradition very helpful and insightful. Mainly because it gave a broader, overall perspective of the many philosophies and traditions not just one. It gave me a better understanding of the history of yoga as a whole so that I could begin to discover which tradition spoke to me personally.
  • Marc Holzman:  1) The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feurstein: For Westerners this is the most comprehensive, accessible, reference work available. Surveying 5,000 years of various traditions, I turn to it time and time again. A Yoga encyclopedia! 2) Yoga and the Quest for the True Self  by Stephen Cope: For new students (all students, actually), this was one of the first spiritual autobiographies I ever read. The author’s lack of pretense coupled with his talent for weaving real life analogies through his navigation of Yoga Philosophy is awesome. 3)Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton: A must-read for meditators of every level. And she is a ‘glo teacher! 4) The Presence of Shiva by Stella Kramrisch: We’re getting a little more advanced here, but for those who are enthralled by Lord Shiva, this book is monumental. By interweaving the many myths that keep Siva alive in India today, Kramrisch reveals the paradoxes in Siva’s nature and thus the nature of Consciousness itself. A little esoterica never hurt anyone.
  • Amy Ippoliti: Having a several translations of classic texts like The Bhagavadgita, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and an introductory book like The Shambala Guide to Yoga, by Georg Feurstein will give students a good start. That said, having a teacher and a community with whom to read and discuss the texts is a must!
  • Tara Judelle: Shiva Sutras by Lakshmanjoo, Georg Feurstien The Yoga Tradition, The Tree of Yoga by Iyengar are some good starters.
  • Christina Sell: Well, Christina Sell wrote two great books that make yoga philosophy personal and accessible! Yoga From the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body Through Yoga and My Body is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness both have lots of practical and down-to-earth information about how asana relates to yoga philosophy and personal growth. Other than my own shameless promotions, I recommend How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roache as a great introduction to yoga principles and practice. It is easy-to-read, has a great story and is very inspiring. I also think that the Introduction to Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar is brilliant. Carlos Pomeda has an excellent DVD set  about the history of yoga which is a great way to get some expert guidance on a full range of classic yogic texts such as The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and much more.
  • Harshada Wagner:Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa. I am assuming that everyone else will cover the other basics. I am not a Buddhist but I find this book essential. Also Paths to God by Ram Dass. It’s his spoken lectures on the Bhagavad Gita.

Ask a Yogi

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