Kim's Top 3 Yoga books.
I am often asked what books I would recommend to the student looking to learn more about the inner workings of the practice they are undertaking, the passage within.
Where do we start?
I have many favourites, my shelves are full and I have many shelves! I've worked in the publishing industry since I was 23, that is more than half of my life. And so books are my trade and my muse. If Yoga is the breath I take, then books would be my heartbeat.
It can be a complicated start, there are so many choices and because we're discussing a practice so steeped in history and view, there is much to confuse the first steps on the journey. Start small and take your time, each view is just that, a view, often birthed by teacher or childhood or religion or birthplace. The beauty of Yoga is that it is conducive in some way with every view and gives you the tools to allow your own path to unfold just as it should. The magnificent journey of a teacher is to find what feeds your own path, build your own story and serve from there, and that is how I choose to share.
My one solid that lives at arms reach from 'my side' of the bed is the Bhagavad Gïtā. I've owned several versions but this has become my favourite.
I once read it from cover to cover perhaps 10 years ago now. Now, I simply pick it up each morning and randomly open, letting my eyes settle where they are drawn and read the verse that settles in front of me.
The Bhagavad Gita (in Sanskrit this translates to song of god) is an episode in the Mahābhārata, the epic Sanskrit history of the ancient world. The Mahābhārata tells of events leading up to the present age of Kali. It was at the beginning of this age, some fifty centuries ago, that Lord Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to his friend and devotee Arjuna. In a narrative style, the tale of the Bhagavad Gita is told through a dialogue between Arjuna, a warrior prince, and his charioteer, Lord Krishna. Whilst Arjuna doubts whether he should go into battle, Krishna explains that he must fulfill his dharma (duty) as a warrior.
In his explanation, Krishna discusses the four classical schools of yoga; Jnana (the path of knowledge), Bhakti (the path of devotion), Karma (the path of action) and Raja (the path of meditation).
The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as the process by which a person can connect with the Absolute, thereby attaining self-realisation. This is true heaven printed to page, you wait and see :)
The Bhagavad Gita - A Walkthrough for Westerners
by Jack Hawley
My top 3 for new students includes a simplified and western walkthrough view of this narrative and one I share with as many people as I can, particularly my new trainees to get the interest started.
It's an uncomplicated way to receive the text and absorb the teachings before moving deeper into the heavier opportunities of learnings of which there are many.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Edwin F Bryant
The Yoga Sutras (aphorisms) are a collection of texts written by the sage Patanjali around 200 B.C.E. It is one of the most detailed guides towards a higher or pure consciousness.
Patanjali wrote the text in Sanskrit, the ancient language of Hinduism. There are many translations of it that you can check out but this is the one I've come to settle best with. I've done many teacher trainings now and all use a different version but I like Bryants incredibly concise and clear english translation.
As is the case with most versions you find on the market each sutra is written first in Sanskrit (the original verse) it's transliteration and then the english translation.
There are 196 sutra's each of which hold a step toward our purest self.
The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman
Just as a mirror reflects our image back to us, Freeman envisions yoga as a vehicle to reflect back to the practitioner exactly who they are and who we have the potential to become. This is highly recommended to anyone looking for more meaning, depth, and understanding from their practice or anyone looking to further explore yoga’s roots as a means to gain a greater understanding of themselves, honestly this is a door in.
Still one of my absolute must reads for anyone looking for more knowledge and covers all aspects of the practice of yoga and of simply being human.