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Western Hatha Yoga Classics

These books offer a wealth of information about a range of issues including postures, breathing, developing a personal practice and the authors understanding of yoga. A great place to start.

  • Desikachar (1999) The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice
  • Donna Farhi (2000) Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness
  • Erich Schiffmann (1996) Yoga: The Spirit And Practice Of Moving Into Stillness

Posture Manuals

  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1996 3rd ed.) Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha
    [asana = posture; pranayama = breath/energy; mudra = gesture/attitude/symbol; Bandha = lock].
  • IYT Teachers Toolbox, a wealth of information organised in a card system so you can take cards out to plan a practice.
  • Yoga Journal Pose Finder
  • Yoga Dancer Postures and their variation between Hatha Yoga schools of thought

Yoga Nidra – Relax, Renew, Rewind

Yoga Nidra is a sophisticated practice that teaches relaxation and supports psycho-spiritual development. It can be practiced as part of a longer practice – say at the beginning or end of a posture practice, or as a stand-alone practice. I have benefited greatly from a regular yoga nidra practice: it taught me awareness, patience, the ability to accept unpleasant experiences.  On my personal journey yoga nidra prepared the ground for meditation (which would have been absolutely impossible prior to years or yoga nidra).  I eventually found my home in Insight Meditation and never really explored the full potential of Yoga Nidra.  My limited experience indicates it could be an amazing lifetime practice.

  • I highly recommend Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati’s CD 1
    (from her CD Collection). It includes 2 short deep relaxation practices and one Yoga Nidra practice.  I listened to the first track on CD 1 for years.  It is about 10 minutes long – I used to practice it daily, when I got back from work, to let go of the workday and settle into my evening.
  • Experience Yoga Nidra by Swami Janakananda was the first Yoga Nidra CD I ever owned.  Its a treat!
  • Richard Miller is a Psychology PhD who has been researching Yoga Nidra for years.  He and his iRest team work with a huge range of clients including people presenting with post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness and abuse.  If you are interested in exploring awareness and healing psychological hurt, this is the approach for you.

I think one will have to commit to a regular practice to benefit from the iRest Yoga Nidra practice while the first two CD’s recommended can be tapped into when appropriate (although they are blissful so it is possible you will listen to them on a more regular basis then you expect).

Self-Actualisation

For an introduction to self-actualisation from a yogic point of view try Dr. Rishi Vivekananda (2005) Practical Yoga Psychology. For a discussion of self-actualisation as viewed by Western psychology look for articles, or books, discussing self-actualisation and Rogers and/or Maslow (quite a few available free on the web). And, any introduction to Person Centred Counselling.

Body Mind Connection

Ken Dychtwald (1986) Bodymind. An exploration of the body-mind connection integrating various Eastern philosophies and Western psychology.

Highly recommended relaxation series for persistent pains and aches

Thomas Hanna (2004) Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a complex read. It was written in Sanskirt: many words don’t have direct translations into English, or, have multiple meanings which are determined by context and discretion. Because of this translations are always biased by the translators point of view. The best way to study the sutras is to have somebody ‘unpackage them with you’. In the absence of an opportunity to study the sutras with a teacher the following three translations are ones I feel will be accessible to beginners.
TKV Desikachar (1999) The Heart Of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice
This book is a fantastic introduction to Hatha Yoga. Within it is a concise translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
BKS Iyenger Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This book includes word for word translations, a translation of the sutra to English and a discussion of the meaning of each sutra.
Swami Vivekananda (1899) Pantanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms with Commentaries. This is a very rich discussion of the sutras, it includes all sorts of asides that bring the text to life. Of the three books in this list Vivekananda’s is probably the most lively and passionate discussion. It is also hard work at times.
While the first two books adopt an all-embracing attitude to faith positions Vivekananda assumes that the reader is of a religious faith. Atheists might find this translation a bit annoying at times.

Teachers I Enjoyed Studying With

  • My first teacher was Jane Bennett. She taught the Saturday morning Ashtanga class at the Yoga Place. Couldn’t have wished for a better beginning. A wonderful teacher. Love from first class.
  • My next big WOW were a few workshops with John Scott. I didn’t study with him much but the little I did left a huge impression.
  • I learnt loads from Sheshadri about all sorts of stuff.  He is a great teacher and a lovely person.
  • Acharye Hema of Atama Vikasa opened my eyes to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
  • Joseph and Lilian Le Page and the IYT crew – lots of food for thought on a continuing journey of self-discovery.
  • I did the excellent Sadhana Mala teacher training course after years of teaching yoga.  Doing a second teacher training course was a marvellous opportunity to re-think my practice and teaching intentions.
  • And, I’ve had the great fortune of studying with Jenny Bullough, a fantastic viniyoga teacher.

Miscellaneous