I want to start by commenting that there are tons of sacred texts, yoga history and philosophy books that yoga teachers can and should read. This list is meant as an overall range of books that will help the modern yoga teacher. I don’t mean the yogi wanting to go off into the woods or cave and transcend the world, but rather, the yogi in the world, in particular: the western world. Living and making a living teaching yoga. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It also, quite obviously, is devoid of any particular sacred texts, as I mentioned above. There are many that I would encourage people to read, but that will come on a different list. There are, without any doubt, other books that could be included here. I welcome their addition in the comments section. This isn’t a “Top Five” type list, but rather a list of books that any modern western yoga teacher will benefit from reading, regardless of teaching style or experience.
I hope you enjoy!
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
by Stephen Cope
This is one of the very few non scriptural/sacred yoga texts that I’ve read cover-to-cover multiple times. Stephen Cope does a great job of breaking down complex yoga philosophy into easily understandable and relatable segments. This book is a treasure trove of insight and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether you are a yoga teacher, student, or otherwise.
The Courage to Teach
by Parker J Palmer
I was introduced to this book by Noah Maze, years ago and Parker Palmer has been a favorite of mine since. This book wasn’t written with yoga teachers in mind, but is a phenomenal book for anyway sitting in the seat of a teacher. It’s absolutely loaded with gems and insights to help you grow into the best teacher you can be.
The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga
by Amy Ippolitti and Taro Smith PhD
This is, by all means, a new addition to my personal list, as this book was only recently released. It’s a short book, but packed with great information and insights for yoga teachers in the West. For those that want to teach yoga as their life path and career, it helps to have support not only in the areas of yoga, but how to be successful at it as a profession.
Functional Anatomy of Yoga
by David Keil
I teach anatomy, so naturally, an anatomy book has to make it into the top five. While this book is less accessible than some others, it blossoms into a wonderful resource once you have a basic anatomical understanding. Even though I hold this book in high regard, I don’t recommend it as the first introduction into yoga anatomy. In my next list (Anatomy Books Every Yoga Teacher Should Read), I’ll go into more depth about this book and others.
The Injury-Free Yoga Practice
by Steven Weiss
Another anatomy book, but well worth being on the list. If you are teaching an asana practice, it’s essential that you have more than even just a basic understanding of the body. If you are to keep your students safe, you need to understand the body itself, so you can understand what postures are looking to accomplish, and in that way you can tailor postures specifically to your students, instead of trying to tailor the students to the postures. This particular book may be harder to find, but it’s worth the effort!