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Yoga Teachers Tell Us What They’re Reading Right Now

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Yoga teachers recommend their most treasured books to help brighten your days while hunkering down.

Catch up on your reading during quarantine. 

Got extra time on your hands or looking to decompress? Curl up with a book that engages your mind and lifts your spirits. From Kathryn Budig to Tracee Stanley to Rina Deshpande, yoga teachers share their favorite books for daily inspiration during turbulent times.

See also How to Make Space for Your Passion Project During the Shutdown

Altered Traits: Science Reveals how Meditation Changes your Mind, Brain, and Body

By Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson

“Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (2017) is a joint effort between the psychologist and science writer Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry with a focus in neuroscience. There are a lot of opinions swirling around the yoga world, and I love that this book uses scientific research to separate fact from fiction in terms of what meditation actually does for those who practice it. The authors also discuss how different types of meditation produce different results—with some methods serving to make the practitioner more altruistic, and others helping with depression and even pain management. Given the current precarious state of the world, I appreciate the way this book reminds readers that adopting a consistent meditation practice can help us navigate the world in a kinder, healthier, and less reactive way, and in doing so, become better members of the larger community.” 

Recommended by Kiley Holliday

Buy Altered Traits now.

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self

By Stephen Cope

“I think it is very challenging to tell the story of how yoga changes us and how it opens our eyes to the mystical elements of life. Stephen Cope does this beautifully in his first book. It is a story of awakening and also an education about the deeper aspects of yoga.” 

Recommended by Erica Mather

Buy Yoga and The Quest for the True Self now.

The Radiance Sutras

By Dr. Lorin Roche

“Reading this book is like listening to a conversation between two lovers, where one is longing to experience more of the divine in everyday life, and the other offers the instructions.The Radiance Sutras is one of the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever read. Not only has it shaped the way that I look at meditation, it’s also shaped the way I look at life. This text awakened something inside of me that I couldn’t deny. It encourage me to take the first steps on what would become an incredible journey—both beautiful and painful, where I experienced the deepest love and deepest heartbreak, and through this practice of meditation, I learned to cherish it all—that it was all beautiful.”

Recommended by Coby Kozlowski, author of One Degree Revolution: How the Wisdom of Yoga Inspires Small Shifts That Lead to Big Changes

Buy Radiance Sutras now.

Welcoming the Unwelcome

By Pema Chödrön

“I love Pema. I hear her voice in my head all the time. She constantly says to me ‘Sukhraj, you are the sky. Everything else is just the weather. Turn and face it, walk right into the center of all you are feeling right now and know none of it has be any different than it is right now–be compassionate with yourself.’ I’m reading her current book Welcoming the Unwelcome. In Chapter 18, Welcoming the Unwelcome with Laughter, she says “Humor lightens up the spiritual path and prevents it from becoming a drag. It gives us the openness to go deeper into the teachings, rather than become fixated on what we think they mean.” I see these current events giving all of us an incredible opportunity to connect more to our spirit and all spirits. This is not done by thinking, and laughter is one of the best ways to bypass thinking and simply feel connected to whomever you’re laughing with. For me, everything Pema writes about can easily be traced back to a yogic teaching. Her explanations are so simple and easily translate into my daily life.” 

Recommended by Sukhraj Gipple

Buy Welcoming the Unwelcome now.

Yoga Biomechanics: Stretching Redefined 

By Jules Mitchell

“My recommendation is the book Yoga Biomechanics: Stretching Redefined by Jules Mitchell. Jules writes elegantly about biomechanics as it relates to stretching in the asanas. This book is for anyone who wants to understand and use more nuanced language around stretching. It’s for seekers who are less interested in binary right/wrong type thinking around stretching, alignment, and sequencing, and who are more interested in engaging with the questions science raises about our biases and practicing critical thinking to re-examine our beliefs about the human body. Jules’ book is about stretching—yes—but maybe even more importantly, it’s about epistemology and learning to more clearly identify and embrace the limits of what we can know based on current research. What I love about Jules’ book is that it asks us to soften our certainty in our pursuit of truth. Simply put, this book is a game changer, and I think it would be an excellent book to sink one’s teeth into intellectually and creatively during this time of relative social isolation (when we might have more time for learning!)”

Recommended by Laurel Beversdorf

Buy Yoga Biomechanics now.

Skill In Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World

By Michelle C. Johnson 

“In these uncertain times when disparities in power and privilege are illuminated so clearly, Skill In Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World by Michelle C. Johnson seems even more relevant than usual. This book is an education in topics like power, privilege, and oppression, and it’s also an invitation for deeply personal growth toward your own liberation. It is a simple and clear introduction into social justice as yoga, and how personal practice holds immense potential for collective healing.”

Recommended by Amber Karnes

Buy Skill in Action now.

Prayers and Honoring Voice

By Pixie Lighthouse

“Ritual and prayer can offer a foundation of steadiness in turbulent times. This book has prayers that ground us in the sacredness of life. It opens our hearts with gratitude for the everything that we may take for granted and helps us to illuminate an expanded vision that honors all parts of life.”

Recommended by Tracee Stanley

Buy Prayers and Honoring Voice now.

Peace is Every Step

By Thich Nhat Hanh

“I turn to Thich Nhat Hanh. About ten years ago, a friend from work introduced me to his teachings when she gave me his book Peace is Every Step as a gift. It still means so much to me. Thich Nhat Hanh’s poetic writing and short readings bring beautiful, childlike imagery into my mind and system, and help me learn to stay present and calm for myself and for others. He has written many helpful books, including No Mud No Lotus. I always feel consoled by his words, especially understanding his own life history, his peaceful activism during war that required such patience through difficulty, his presence in the home in himself while he built a home around him and inspired others.”

Recommended by Rina Deshpande

Buy Peace is Every Step now.

Great Swan

By Lex Hixon

“This is a beautiful book about what it was like to be around the great Indian master, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It’s organized as descriptions of actual encounters. It absolutely drips with love and has a powerful transmission.”

Recommended by Sally Kempton

Buy Great Swan now.

Caraval

By Stephanie Garber

“I just finished Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and loved it. Dark times calls for magical escapism and permission to find joy wherever we can. This book (one of a trilogy) delivers.” 

Recommended by Kathryn Budig. (Budig just launched her own book club on Instagram @theinkyphoenix

Buy Caraval now.

The Alchemist

By Paolo Coelho

“I am rereading this masterpiece because it is a story of a challenging and spiritually fortifying journey. The protagonist’s desire and passion for new experiences, no matter how hard or difficult, ultimately result in his awakening through his accepted fate.”

Recommended by Pamela Stokes Eggleston

Buy The Alchemist now.

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