What are the best yoga teacher training books to read? What books should I have for yoga teacher training?
With an arsenal of yoga teacher training books out there vying for your attention, it can be hard to decide which ones you should invest in. We have distinguished the books that are fluff versus the yoga books with substance and meaning.
Not only can books teach you all about yoga philosophy, but teacher training programs can be extremely insightful as well. Join Blue Osa’s teacher training program, where you can physically learn the movements, deepen your practice, and connect with your inner self.
Yoga teacher training books also create a positive experience in the yogi’s mind and inspire the yogi on and off the mat.
With the best yoga books for yoga teacher training and immersive teacher training programs, you can become a better, happier, and more effective yoga instructor.
The Top 15 Best Yoga Books For Teachers
Here is a list of our favorite books on yoga that we always recommend to aspiring teachers in training. Add these to your collection!
1. Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Satyananada Saraswati
The Hatha Yoga Pradhipika is the most under-read book among yoga teachers and yoga practitioners alike, but probably one of the most important tantric yoga texts ever published. It is complex, yet so simple. This yoga teacher training book will tell you what to do, how to do it, how you may fail, and what you need to do in order to overcome your failures. Most importantly it will fully describe what you should gain in great detail.
“This book is a classic treatise on Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a combination of two Beeja mantras. It has been explained in hatha yoga that that represents prana, the vital force, and ha represents the mind the mental energy. So hatha yoga means the union of the pranic and mental forces. When the union between the pranic and mental forces takes place, then a great event occurs in man. This is the awakening of higher consciousness.“
This book is required for those who take Yoga Teacher Training Immersions at Blue Osa.
2. Stop Stretching!
Stop Stretching! is the book for anyone who wants to restore balance to their body through yoga and begin their pain-free journey.
In his book, Yogi Aaron clearly lays out how activating different parts of the body, instead of stretching them, can strengthen and stabilize your body.
You’ll learn different muscle groups and how to activate them, what they do, and how they communicate with the brain. As a teacher in training, this is one of the best yoga teacher training books because it will help keep your students safe.
Stop Stretching! Is a revolutionary approach to movement and the yoga industry. This is the key to switching up your asana practice to increase your body’s stability safely and effectively.
And, you can teach what you learn! This is one of the best yoga books for teachers who want to teach a revolutionary and life-changing practice to their students.
3. Yoga For Wellness by Gary Kraftsow
Yoga for Wellness is a book for those of you who are looking for a better understanding of basic alignment, and for those of you who are looking to build your own practice. This book for yoga teacher training also has many different practices for those who want to build more virility or are suffering from depression. There’s more to yoga than stretching and bending and twisting. It’s about healing and well-being.
“In Yoga for Wellness, one of America’s top yoga teachers gives a clinic on the holistic nature of yoga practice, especially in regard to healing and well-being. With over a thousand photographs, Gary Kraftsow covers the basic postures, the specific movements of each posture, and how to sequence postures in a routine. More importantly, he moves from form to function, showing how sequences of postures can alleviate ailments in each system of the body, from lower back pain to hypertension–even depression and multiple sclerosis.
In case studies of his own clients, we see how Kraftsow’s holistic approach has him recommending not only posture prescriptions, but breathing exercises, sound techniques, and visualizations, not to mention such commonly neglected wisdom as eating a healthy breakfast and getting closer to nature. Yoga for Wellness is the rare yoga instruction manual that teaches the basics of yoga while also paying more than just lip service to the original intention of yoga–achieving a balance of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.”
This book is required for those who take Yoga Teacher Training Immersions at Blue Osa.
4. Four Chapters on Freedom by Swami Satyananada Saraswati
There are many translations on the Yoga Sutras, but this is one of the best. This translation is direct and to the point without too much dogma, which can cloud the essence of the teachings.
Four Chapters on Freedom contains the full Sanskrit text of Rishi Patanjali’s Yoga sutras as well as transliteration, translation, and an extensive commentary.
The Yoga Sutras, containing 196 epithets or threads of Yoga, is the most respected treatise on Yoga. In his commentary on each verse, Swami Satyananda Saraswati fully explains the text and the path of raja yoga. Serious yogic aspirants and spiritual seekers will find invaluable guidance within these pages.
This yoga teacher training book is required for those who take Yoga Teacher Training at Blue Osa.
5. The Royal Path by Swami Rama
Swami Rama was the first Himalayan yogi to demonstrate to the Western scientific community the astonishing level of self-mastery achieved by Indian adepts. In The Royal Path, he introduces the ancient yogic techniques as they’re practiced by those who attain the highest goal of life. In this step-by-step teacher training book for yoga, Swami Rama outlines the basic physical exercises, mental disciplines, and ethical commitments of Raja Yoga, the Royal Path to self-transformation and enlightenment.
The Royal Path is an enduring classic, one of the clearest and most inspiring introductions to yoga science available in English. Whether your goal is improved health, emotional balance, enhanced creativity, or spiritual exploration, the practices Swami Rama describes here hold the key.
This book is required for those who take Yoga Teacher Training at Blue Osa.
6. The Bagavad Gita – translated by Christopher Isherwood
This classic translation of the Bhagavad Gita, is, in my opinion, one of the best yoga teacher training books. It is elegantly poetic, reads beautifully, and is easy to understand. The Introduction by Aldous Huxley, which is a wonderful bonus, is one of the best expositions I’ve seen of the “Perennial Philosophy” common to all religions. A gem in the world’s culture, this little book is an ever-new source of inspiration and joy that can make you a better yogi.
The critics have singled out this translation:
“The book is self-contained. A complete stranger to the Hindu gospel can pick it up and in one or two evenings follow the poem from its terrific beginnings to its sublime end.” ~ New York Times
“A distinguished literary work.” ~ Time Magazine
“A highly readable interpretive translation.” ~ American Library Association
“The best from a literary point of view.” ~ Aldous Huxley.
This book is required for those who take Yoga Teacher Training at Blue Osa.
7. Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama
The late Sri Swami Rama recalls his own spiritual journey in this memoir, Living With The Himalayan Masters. Using specific incidents to illustrate spiritual truths, he presents a practical guide for those embarking on the Hindu path of enlightenment. Sri Swami Rama writes in the opening pages of this timeless saga, “I will tell you how I grew up and how I was trained, about the great sages with whom I lived and what they taught me, not through lectures and books but through experiences.” These stories record his personal quest for truth and enlightenment, making it a wonderful yoga teacher training book. Inspiring, illuminating, entertaining, mystifying, and frequently humorous, they bring you face-to-face with the great Himalayan Masters, including:
- Mataji of Assam, a ninety-six-year-old sage who never slept.
- Gudari Baba, who taught Swami Rama the value of direct experience.
- Yogi Sri Aurobindo, who integrated meditation with action.
- Uria Baba, who teaches that every human being has a potential for healing.
- Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.
8. Path of Fire and Light: Volumes 1 and 2
Swami Rama provides an in-depth study of swarodaya, the science of breath, with step-by-step instruction on advanced pranayama exercises. This is an essential yoga teacher training book for all serious hatha yoga students.
In Path of Fire and Light, Swami Rama shares, for the first time, remarkable and practical information on the systematic techniques of an ancient and profound tradition of spiritual growth with Western students. The ancient yogic teachers and sages developed a powerful and subtle science of breath, swarodaya, by which they intensified their sensitivity to body and mind and successfully attained their ultimate goal: self-realization.
For yoga students and teachers, self-realization is a primary goal. Yogi’s strive to reach a state in which they truly know themselves and are fulfilled with that understanding, and Path of Fire and Light can help achieve this.
9. The Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation
In the ancient science of tantra, the human body is viewed as the most perfect instrument for the expression of consciousness, a perfection realized through the development of psychic centers known as chakras. Located within the cerebrospinal system, the chakras are the stage upon which the interaction between higher consciousness and desire is played out. Consequently, it is through understanding and utilizing the energies of the chakras that we ultimately reach an enlightened state of being.
In Chakras, Indian scholar and tantra practitioner Harish Johari introduces the classical principles of the chakras as well as their practical application for today. In this expanded book for yoga teacher training with new art and text, he unfolds the mysteries of these subtle centers of transformation with visualization techniques essential to a fully realized tantric practice. Unlike other books in its field, Chakras provides the tools to activate these centers of transformative energy and elevate one’s intellectual knowledge to an experience of spiritual growth.
Meditating on the beautiful, full-color illustrations of each chakra vitalizes the cerebrospinal centers and harmonizes the entire system both physically and mentally. Explanations of each chakra elaborate on the chakra’s connection to elements, colors, sounds, sense and work organs, desires, planets, and deities. Each chakra also expands on behavioral characteristics and particular effects of meditation. For scholars and spiritual aspirants of every level, Chakras is an invaluable, practical yoga teacher training book full of information and techniques.
10. The Art of Joyful Living – by Swami Rama
In The Art of Joyful Living, Swami Rama imparts a message of inspiration and optimism: that you are responsible for making your life happy and emanating that happiness to others. This book shows you how to maintain a joyful view of life even in difficult times,
This yoga teacher training book teaches you how to become a better person by:
- transforming habit patterns
- working with negative emotions
- developing strength and willpower
- developing intuition and spirituality in loving relationships
- learning to be your own therapist
- understanding the process of meditation, and more!
“Your culture teaches you to smile at others, but such smiles are only momentary and do not reflect your real feelings. Actually, there should be a perennial and real smile on your face all the time. To achieve that, you should have a clear concept of the meaning of life, and the philosophy of life. Then, you will start to live on a deeper level, and will begin to enjoy your life…When you understand your real responsibility in life, you’ll know that every human being is responsible to make his life happy, and then to emanate that happiness to others…”
~ Swami Rama
The book is, as the title suggests, all about the art of joyful living, and like mastering any craft, living joyfully takes some time, effort, tools, and practice. In this little book, Swami Rama covers a wide array of topics, including emotions, desires, willpower, wisdom, and the spirituality of loving relationships, and provides us with tools that can help us to live more joyfully.
Tantra teaches us to live in the world, but not to be of the world. In other words, to enjoy life, but at the same time not get attached to all that is worldly. Most of us spend our lives dealing with the external world, and only a few of us spend time thinking about or working to understand our internal reality. This is where Swami Rama⎯one of the greatest Tantric sages of our time⎯takes us. His book helps us to explore that inner reality. Swami Rama tells us that happiness is our own creation and that each and every one of us is responsible for making our own life happy. We are all capable of being joyful, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. In fact, everything we need is already inside of us…that is what he helps us to discover in this book, which makes it the perfect yoga teacher training book.
If you are interested in becoming a happier, more peaceful, and more joyous yogi, then The Art of Joyful Living is a book for you. Don’t be discouraged by the occasional passage that is difficult to read or hard to understand. There are plenty of things that will make sense to anyone who reads this book, and if you are like me, the more you read the more you will understand.
11. The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived to be over 100 years old, was one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Elements of Krishnamacharya’s teaching have become well known around the world through the work of B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who all studied with Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya’s son T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father all his life and now teaches the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya’s yoga. Desikachar has based his method on Krishnamacharya’s fundamental concept of viniyoga, which maintains that practices must be continually adapted to the individual’s changing needs to achieve maximum therapeutic value.
In The Heart of Yoga, Desikachar offers a distillation of his father’s system as well as his own practical approach, which he describes as “a program for the spine at every level–physical, mental, and spiritual.” This is the first yoga teacher training text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to the age-old principles of yoga. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga–poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy–and shows how the yoga student may develop a practice tailored to his or her current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle.
12. Autobiography Of A Naked Yogi
The autobiography of Yogi Aaron.
This is one of our yoga teacher training books that is a must-read for aspiring yogis, yoga teachers, world travelers, nudists, gay men, or people wanting to manifest positive change in their lives.
And, if you are taking your yoga teacher training at Blue Osa, this is a great way to get to know your teacher before you arrive!
See how a life spent largely outdoors—in the wilds of northern Canada, the underwater wonderland of the Caribbean, and throughout the untamed Himalayas—presented the challenges that shaped a timid mother’s boy into a confident yogi and ambassador for self-transformation.
Through humorous and poignant life stories–attending an all-male boarding school, coming out as a gay man, and building a successful yoga career– Yogi Aaron shares lessons in living with empowerment and authenticity. With his knowledge, experience, and background, he teaches others how to be a confident and inspiring yoga teacher and practitioner.
From the creator of Hot Nude Yoga, a global phenomenon during the early 2000s, a story of struggle and healing was found through the practices of Tantric yoga. Today, the owner and yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa in Costa Rica and leader of worldwide retreats through Blue Osa Journeys, Yogi Aaron is known for his humorous yet vastly knowledgeable approach to teaching this centuries-old wisdom.
13. Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
This is one of the best books on yoga as it’s a resource to build upon the anatomy you learned in your 200-hour teacher training. It gives readers a foundational understanding of yoga anatomy and also provides examples of anatomical cues you can use with your students.
Keep this as a resource in your yoga library so you can turn to it when you come across questions in your own practice. It’s helpful to have around so you can continue your learning of yoga anatomy in your free time.
14. 2,100 Asanas by Daniel Larceda
In his book, Daniel Larceda names 2,100 yoga poses and the spiritual benefits of each shape. This is an excellent resource on the list of yoga teacher training books for finding modifications to offer your students so you can easily teach all levels classes.
This book outlines seated and standing shapes, inversions, backbends, inversions, and more!
15. Living the Sutras by Kelly Dinardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden
Living the Sutras is one of the best books for yoga teachers. It acts as a guide to yoga wisdom outside the mat. It is an active self-study for students and teachers that helps you assimilate the teachings of the Sutras into everyday life.
This is a great resource for making yoga philosophy accessible, leading you toward a healthier way of living.
There are writing prompts at the end of each chapter, so you can actively integrate what you are learning into your life. It makes yoga philosophy personal so you can engage with it in a way that makes sense for you as a unique individual.
What books do you need for yoga teacher training?
At Blue Osa, all yoga teacher participants will complete this reading list to support their learning:
- The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar
- Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
- The Royal Path Practical Lessons on Yoga by Swami Rama
- Stop Stretching by Yogi Aaron
And there you have it! This is just the start of all the best yoga teacher training books out there that yoga students can read to further deepen their practice. To become an even better, more knowledgeable yogi, you can join our yoga teacher training program that will take your passion for the practice to the next level!