Book Reviews

I’m a big fan of reading to improve my knowledge and expertise and, having just returned from holiday, I was able to indulge my passion for a full 12 days! So in the spirit of the holiday season I would like to share my favourite 8 titles – my desert island books, so to speak! You can click on the titles to go direct to Amazon to buy the books.

BREATH, The Essence of Yoga by Sandra Sabatini
I have this book always to hand. It is sub-titled “A Guide to Inner Stillness” and even the layout of the book conveys a sense of space and clarity. This book gave me a real insight into how to ‘let go‘. A friend joked that I did yoga ‘olympic style‘ as I was competitive with my body and eager to force it into positions it wasn’t yet ready to go into! Sandra writes in the preface that “Breath is the key that can open thousands of doors”. This is a simple, gentle book – full of wisdom and insight into how, by using the breath, we can become comfortable in or body and mind.

A great little stress-buster of a book that you can easily carry around with you. Professional yoga instructor Scott Shaw introduces 16 breathing exercises and shows you how to get the benefit from each of the forms by training, refining and witnessing your breath. He explainss, simply, how to bring your breath under conscious control in breathing exercises which are organised into sections on energy enhancing breath, calming breath and exercises you can do while moving.

THE SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS OF YOGA by Mark Forstater and Jo Manuel
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested not just in the practice of yoga but also in the philosophy underpinning it. It comes across as quite a personal take on the Eight Limbs of Yoga but one which I warmed to. It also includes a section on some of yoga’s sacred scriptures. I found it easy to read and to understand as they have set much of it in the context of the world we live in now and demonstrates clearly how valid the ancient philosophy of yoga still is.

ASHTANGA YOGA, The Practice Manual by David Swenson
If you are interested in developing an astanga yoga practice then this is the definitive guide. Each posture is clearly described with useful instruction and comment. It also includes several shorter forms as he understands that we do not all always have the time and space to perform the full astanga series of postures.

I couldn’t manage without this book.

YOGA. The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann
This book has a very profound feel to it and I often re-visit this book for the excellent in-depth instructions on postures. More importantly he has helped me, through his instructions and insights, to experience the softer perception of the world that yoga encourages.

This is not just a yoga posture book, it also describes meditation as a vital part of yoga practice. This is a book that touches you to the core.

Another excellent meditation book by David Fontana.
It is easy to carry with you and to dip in and out of. There are lots of suggestions on different ways to meditate and I am sure that everyone will find at least one of the 52 step-by-step exersises in this book that will allow you to start or develop a meditation practice.

ASANA, PRANAYAMA, MUDRA, BANDHA by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
I came to this book quite recently and, as a yoga teacher, I’ve found it to be an extremely useful reference book. However, even for those new to yoga, it is an excellent book as it starts with a beginners group of postures working through to more advanced postures and covers other aspects of yoga practice.


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