As always, summer is flying by: Have you read any good books yet? Any stunning beach reads? Have you plowed through Anna Karenina again or tackled the latest Jodi Picoult?
If you’re a yogini or yogi, you may be looking for something a little more yogi-esque: I’ve put together a (purely subjective) list of my top ten recommendations for books about yoga to read this summer. You still have at least five weeks before school starts, which is not really time enough to adequately address all the yoga sutras (a few life times might do it) but it’s on my list anyway. If you’re in a yoga book club, as I am, you may be pondering your next selection. The club I’m in will be reading The Feminine Face of God by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. Sounds interesting!
Here are a few other suggestions to help keep a yogi’s reading mind in shape over the summer:
- My number one all time favorite yoga book is Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda (Crystal Clarity) which I have read three times. In this book, legendary guru Yogananda chronicles his life in late nineteenth century India up to his move to America and the ensuing years. The first time I read this book, I scarcely could believe the tale (it seemed to me that the young Yogananda had an overly vivid imagination!). But by the third pass, I’m totally sold on Yogananda’s story; I’m buying every word. Once you get rolling you won’t be able to put this great guru’s story down.
- The Mind by Yogi Bhajan (Kundalini Research Institute). Looking for something philosophical, meaty, and practical? The Mind by Yogi Bhajan “meets you where you're at, takes you where you want to go,” which is the promise of Kundalini Yoga. The Mind is described as “the owner’s manual for the human mind and spirit.” If you want a thought provoking read, this one’s for you.
- Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell (Three Rivers Press) or any other translation of your choice. Haven’t read it yet? Why wait? It took me a long time to pronounce this properly (let alone spell it) but it really was a pretty fast read. Of course, you won’t want to hurry through, because the words are so beautiful. Take your and time and discover the power of the “Gita’s” message about what yoga really means.
- Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras by Reverend Jaganath Carrera (Integral Yoga Publications). Yes, yogis devote lifetimes to this text, but summer is a perfect opportunity for review. This interpretation by Carrera (of Fair Lawn’s Integral Yoga Institute and a frequent speaker at area yoga studios, including Montclair’s own Starseed) is a gem. Reverend Carrera explains the sutras with clarity and style. If there’s one book to own on the sutras, this gets my vote.
- Waking by Matthew Sanford (Rodale). A beautiful memoir about the author’s spiritual awakening after a childhood car accident. Today, Sanford is a well-known yoga teacher; paralyzed from the waist down, he proves from his wheelchair that yoga isn’t necessarily about standing on your head; it’s really about leading with your heart. Moving and exquisitely written, this book is an authentic yogi’s tale.
- Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Okay, I admit I haven’t read this one yet, but the reviews are good and how wrong can you go with a memoir about yoga? (That’s a little plug for me, too, since I’m working on one!)
- Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin). Don’t see the movie first; read the real thing. Although some complain that Gilbert is a whiner, I found this story of divorce and self-discovery both entertaining and thoughtful. Re-read it for fun if you’ve already read it. And if you don’t want to read it because everyone else already has, think again. Especially if you’re a pizza lover.
- Fear and Yoga in New Jersey, by Montclair’s own Debra Galant (St. Martin’s). Why not read a light, funny, witty yoga novel? Especially since the author hails from here. Great for a beach day.
- The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Penguin) or even better yet, The Power of Now (New World Library). Both are life transforming. If you really want to make some inner changes, Tolle is always a good place to start.
- Breakfast with Buddha: A Novel by Roland Merullo (Algonquin Books). Last but not least, this is one of my all-time favorites, too. Funny as heck, but with a deep, compassionate message. You’ll laugh, cry and thoroughly enjoy this story of a skeptic traveling from Jersey to North Dakota with a charming, enlightened monk. The yoga class scene is LOL hysterical.
Oops, I forgot Light on Life by BKS Iyengar. And then there’s Michael Stone’s The Inner Tradition of Yoga. For writers, I just love The Journey from the Center to the Page by Jeff Davis. The list goes on and on...happy summer reading!