There’s something unique and special about holding a new yoga book in my hands; I always feel the curiosity and thrill of discovering new techniques and ideas and the adventure of exploring these on my yoga mat. I feel this especially in springtime with the season’s promise of new beginnings and abundant growth. This latest collection of new yoga books spans an interesting and wide spectrum of philosophies and techniques.
Modern Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
This is a wonderfully designed book densely packed with valuable information and great photos—but calling it a “yoga bible” and a “definitive guide to yoga” is a bit misleading. Asana, the physical poses of hatha yoga, takes up over 90% of the book’s contents. There is a brief introduction to yoga and its basic philosophy at the start and several pranayama breathing techniques and a few meditation exercises at the end, but overall this book leaves out a huge amount of the history, philosophy, and techniques of yoga. I do love how the book is uniquely divided into yang (vinyasa based movement) and yin (long holding of poses) practices. It also contains a lot of unusual poses and movements that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Even though the title is a bit misleading, this is still a great book to add to your yoga library.
Yoga FAQ by Richard Rosen
This is a creative and interesting approach to writing a book on yoga—compiling questions and answers that yoga students may ask as they traverse along the path of yoga. Rosen is quick to dive deep into the complexities of yoga philosophy, history, and tradition, and makes a point to correct common misconceptions about yoga. Thus, most of the discussion is quite interesting and fascinating yet is sometimes quirky and obscure, like the detailed discussion about if viagra was named after the Sanskrit name for tiger. Even though this book has a user-friendly title, it would be best suited to those with some amount of practice and study of yoga under their belts.
Breathe, Mama, Breathe by Shonda Moralis
The techniques in this book—a five-minute daily meditation practice combined with short “mindfulness breaks” throughout the day—are simple, easy, helpful and effective. Sixty mindfulness exercises, organized into five chapters, are based around ordinary parenting moments (dinner, homework, sibling strife, toothbrushing, etc.). You can choose a mindfulness practice for a challenging part of your day or use a practice to bring more awareness, aliveness, and connection to ordinary family moments. In the end, these exercises all boil down to remembering to “Breathe, Mama, Breathe.”
Chair Yoga by Kristin McGee
Using a chair as a prop for practicing yoga is especially helpful, and often essential, for the elderly and for persons with physical limitations. With over 100 poses and black and white photos, this book is an accessible guide to chair yoga. The poses and movement exercises range from simple and easy to more complex and challenging and thus will appeal to a wide range of practitioners and abilities. Since the chair yoga poses are arranged by body part (upper body, face, low back, etc.), this book is easy to use as a reference to plan a sequence.
Yoga Twists and Turns by Emma Silverman
If your asana practice is feeling stale or uninspired, you will find this new book of posture sequences fun and refreshing. The sequences are built around a “challenge pose,” which ranges in level of difficulty and organized into five themed chapters of similar pose types (backbends, inversions, arm balances, etc.). The sequences are on the short side, making them easy to accomplish and digest, and easy to incorporate or combine into a longer practice. The hardcover format of the book allows it to lay open while practicing, but unfortunately the photos are a bit small and the pages are not laid out with the sequences on facing pages.
The Art of Vinyasa by Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor
This wonderful new book is a unique, fascinating and refreshing approach to the Ashtanga yoga practice and philosophy. I relished reading through the “roots and depth of yoga” in part one, which discusses the underlying philosophies, techniques, subtle alignments, mechanics, actions and intentions of Freeman’s approach to the Ashtanga system. The yoga postures are taken out of their traditional sequence and discussed within related groups (sun salutations, standing, forward bends, backbends, twists, balancings, and finishing poses). While I do not practice Ashtanga, I look forward to taking many of these interesting concepts on my mat to experiment, explore and verify.
Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom by Acharya Shunya
Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing modality, can be difficult for Westerners to understand and apply to modern lifestyles. This practical guide details simple and easy ways to apply Ayurveda through daily ritual, diet, lifestyle, spiritual practices, and self-care. These recommendations are quite extensive—ranging from sex to sleep to elimination. The healing practices are organized by time of day and seasonal changes, and also include beauty routines so that you not only feel good practicing Ayurveda, you look good too.
Essential Kundalini Yoga by Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa
This beautiful yoga book is copiously illustrated with large, gorgeous black and white photos and is well designed with easy to follow instructions. This detailed guide to the philosophy, practice, and techniques of Kundalini Yoga describes the basic kundalini movements, mantras, and mudras as well as seven traditional kundalini yoga routines. The very enthusiastic and passionate writing tends to be a bit heavy on woo-woo spirituality and pseudoscience, which admittedly is difficult to avoid when discussing the esoteric yogic elements of chakras, nadis, bandhas, and mudras.
The Yoga Kitchen by Kimberly Parsons
This lovely hardcover cookbook contains over 100 vegetarian recipes specifically created for yogis by a trained naturopath and chef. It’s uniquely organized into chapters based on the recipe’s effect on the seven chakras. Thankfully, the chapters have user-friendly titles that make the chapters easier to grasp and navigate: Ground, Flow, Vitalize, Nurture, Strengthen, Calm and Pure. The beautiful (and delicious looking!) photos are printed on thick stock and make this cookbook a delight to read. Many of the recipes have creative and slightly exotic ingredients and combinations—which might be off-putting to some—but for avid cooks, this diversity is exciting, interesting and motivating.