If you want to expand your knowledge beyond your 200 hours of yoga teacher training, it’s time to hit the books. Yoga is a vast ocean of a science—encompassing so much more than 200 hours of education—and these 14 books delve into the depths of yoga philosophy, asanas (poses), anatomy, and yoga therapy. They’re only a few of the thousands of yoga books on the shelves that also offer great wisdom, but they’re a wonderful start to building your confidence and knowledge as a yoga teacher.
1. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
If you could only have one book on yoga, this should be it. Put forth by the renowned Bihar School of Yoga, Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha is the equivalent of a yoga textbook. It includes the highly beneficial but little-known Pawanmuktasana Series; all of the classical asanas with instructions, breathing and awareness cues, benefits, and variations; key pranayama (breath control) and bandha (body lock) practices; and the yogic cleansing practices of shatkarma.
2. Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda
Translated as Light on Hatha Yoga, this is another must-read for yoga teachers. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is an authoritative and classic yogic text, written somewhere around the 15th century A.D. by Yogi Swatmarama. It describes the many techniques of hatha yoga as they’ve been practiced since their distant past.
3. Anatomy of Hatha Yoga by H. David Coulter
For the alignment-focused yoga teacher, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga serves as an extremely comprehensive reference book. It describes asanas from a scientific perspective, and how each is affected by and affects the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems. This book will teach you how the body works and how to vary a yoga practice for different body types and ability levels.
4. Yoga Therapy by A.G. Mohan and Indra Mohan
Even if you’re not interested in specific yoga therapy, this book will help you understand how to safely put together a yoga sequence; how to direct students to move into, out of, and hold postures; how to coordinate breath with movement; and how to customize a yoga practice for private clients. Its language is easy to understand, and it tackles some important basics that are left out of teacher training.
5. Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
A bit too advanced for most yoga students, this book serves as a go-to for yoga teachers, including more than 200 classic and more recently invented asanas. Many of the advanced asanas are accompanied with step-by-step photos, which is really helpful when you’re figuring out how to guide a class through something like Eka Pada Bakasana, for example. Iyengar also includes the physical and emotional benefits of each asana, and an appendix that lists the asanas helpful for specific physical conditions.
6. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga philosophy was first described by the sage Patanjali more than 2,000 years ago, and his Yoga Sutras are a must-read for every yoga teacher. In this translation by B.K.S. Iyengar, the prologue and introduction alone will open your eyes to the extreme depth of the yogic path. Each of the sutras—short, precise aphorisms originally written in Sanskrit—are translated word by word and followed by Iyengar’s in-depth commentary on their deeper meanings.
7. Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting by Stephanie Pappas
This book is a must for any teacher who doesn’t feel confident giving “assists” in class. It covers the most common yoga poses and how to help your students practice them correctly. The book even offers precise verbal cues for each posture, resolving any differences between what you instruct and what your students understand.
8. Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Another great book for anatomy enthusiasts, Leslie Kaminoff (one of the leading authorities on yoga anatomy) and Amy Matthews comprehensively list the working muscles and joint actions of yoga’s most confusing and advanced poses. They also explain breathing dynamics and why certain poses are physically difficult for various body types. While the illustrations are helpful, those with less anatomy knowledge may find this book too advanced.
9. Yoga Body: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana by Judith Hanson
More suited to anatomy beginners, Yoga Body helps teachers to understand how the body works. The book is organized by parts of the body: the locomotor system, the vertebral column, the trunk, and the lower and upper extremities. It explains major and minor joints, the bones, connective tissues, muscles and nerves in easy-to-understand language. If you’re feeling lost when it comes to yoga anatomy, this is a great place to start.
10. Yoga for Your Type by Dr. David Frawley and Sandra Summerfield Kozak
All yoga teachers should have at least a basic understanding of Ayurveda. This book explains not only the foundations of Ayurveda philosophy but the characteristics of constitutional types (also known as prakriti or someone’s dosha). It explains how various yoga postures affect the doshas and how to adapt them according to a student’s constitution. This is another book that’s especially helpful if you’re into yoga therapy.
11. Instructing Hatha Yoga by Kathy Lee Kappmeier Diane M. Ambrosini
This is an excellent guidebook for Hatha yoga teachers. The most important Hatha yoga poses are covered in detail along with muscular information, adjustments, modifications and verbal cues. Along with multiple sample classes, the book also explains basics of teaching such as music, safety, and class framework.
12. Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall
If you have students with particular health challenges such as asthma, diabetes, or infertility, or if you ever work one-on-one, you’ll find this book extremely helpful. It’s written by a yogi/M.D. who explains in detail the therapeutics of yoga for both disease prevention and healing. Specific poses and their modifications are offered for 20 common health conditions.
13. Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Another great book from the Bihar School of Yoga, Kundalini Tantra provides one of the most thorough explanations of the mysterious chakras. It goes much deeper than any blog post with detailed information on kundalini and its awakening, a chapter on each individual chakra, and practices for chakra opening. Unlike most books on chakras, it’s not at all new-agey and much more scientifically based.
14. Kundalini Yoga by Swami Sivananda Radha
For those who like working with the chakras, this book perfectly complements Kundalini Tantra. It’s more emotionally based, offering exercises in speech, taste, touch, thoughts, desires, and love to reflect upon and influence each chakra. It invites deep reflection on our personal development.