Call me old fashioned if you like, but despite the convenience of the internet which brings information to your fingertips – I still prefer nothing better than to draw my knowledge from the good old book. While our yoga instructors have carefully and painstakingly put together a wealth of information in our theory and asana handbooks, I still find it interesting and enjoyable to read further. And now that our lessons have moved more into lesson planning and sequencing, I am happy to have the opportunity to delve further into the individual topics. Below I will review some of the books presently on the market (many can be borrowed from the library).This list is not exhaustive but I hope you will find some of the information useful for your understanding of yoga theory and practice.
- The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long – As recommended in our course
Beautifully illustrated diagrams of the muscles and anatomy in selected yoga poses along with clear images of how the specific muscles insert.
- Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
A good companion to the above mentioned book. Well organized into the different standing, sitting, prone and supine poses with a systematic outline of the muscles involved in each pose. I like the illustration in this book better because the more complete drawing of the figures (with skin and hair etc) looks more pleasant compared to the skeleton and eyeballs figures from the Ray Long book (which make me feel unnervingly as thought the skeleton is staring at me)
- Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
As the name implies, this book has no anatomy but focuses mainly on outlining the asana, pranayamas, mudras and bandhas. I particularly like the sections on the pranayamas and the explanations on breath and technique which are usually not so well covered in other yoga books.
- Hatha Yoga Illustrated By Kirk, Boon and DiTuro
A very basic and straight forward book with clear diagrams on how to break down a pose. I like how there is a counterpose, drishti, physical and mental benefits as well as contraindications listed for each pose.
- Teaching Yoga /Yoga sequencing Both by Mark Stephens
I fell in love with this series the moment I saw it. These books approach yoga solely from the perspective of ‘how to teach’ with the former achieving comprehensive coverage of the 8 limbs of yoga, yoga anatomy and asanas. It outlines instructions of how to guide students into asanas (as opposed to just giving instructions and adjustment) as well as many other useful tips such as class etiquette, voice and language. The sequencing book has extensive information on how to sequence classes along with sample sequences for beginners, intermediate, advanced and themed classes.
- Moving towards Balance – by Rodney Yee
I am usually not a fan of books that give you a timeline (this one says 8 weeks of yoga) but I was particularly impressed by the clear presentation and breakdown of the asanas in this book. I also loved the section on how they outlined the inhale and exhale patterns for the sun salutations which will definitely come in useful for people like me who always get it mixed up during teaching practice!
At the end of the day, these books are just guidelines and sources of information. The true test of my learning will be whether I can apply what I have learnt to my own teaching practice. Looks like there’s still a lot of work to be done!