I've been a big reader and a major nerd since childhood, so it's no surprise that I've taken my geekdom into my yogic practices. I voraciously try and devour as much as I can from seminars, retreats, workshops, conversations with other teachers, courses on CD, and, of course, books - which are a great way to stay connected to the power of yoga while riding the Metro or before bed.
One of my all-time favorites is the Bhagadvad Gita as translated by Eknath Easwsaran. The poetry of the work is so musical, and the way Easwaran unpacks this sacred text is magnetic. The first time I read it, I honestly picked it up at any given chance - it was riveting. Plus, the Bhagadvad Gita is so central to the ideas of yoga, union with the divine. Mahatma Gandhi lived his life by this work, and it's obvious why. The scene is set on a battlefield where the warrior Arjuna is planning to lead his troops to victory in battle. But as he looks across at the "enemies," he recognizes childhood friends, cousins, uncles and other people he knows. Despairing at killing them, he sits down in his chariot, throws his bow to the ground and refuses to move. His charioteer is none other than Krishna, and for the following chapters, Krishna expounds on various spiritual truths that form the bedrock of a sacred life.
A classic of the modern yoga practice is The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya, who is credited as being the father of the modern yoga asana era. This books lays out the important elements of a yoga practice and includes a lovely exposition on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, a seminal work of Yoga's classical era. There's so much to learn here in terms of asana and the philosophical base for a yogic life.
Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess by Shambhavi Chopra is an amazing book and is resonant for anyone interested in the goddess power of yoga. Chopra is a devotee of the Hindu goddess Kali, one of the great compassionate dark mothers of the world, and her writings about and in devotion to this power is inspiring and truly deep. I usually just read one 2-3 page chapter of this book at a time, finding that I need some more time to let it all sink in.
For those yogis who love alignment and technical information, there's really no one who can beat B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the major students of Krishnamacharya. Iyengar's book Light On Yoga was one of the first major books on asana in the West, and it caught on like wild fire. Filled with pictures and lots of details on how to hold it down, it's an amazing work.
These are just a handful of the books out there on yogic ideas and practices, and they're some of the ones I return to again and again. During a cold February, it could be the perfect thing to curl up with by a fire when dreaming of spring.
Fri, January 22, 2010
by Greg Marzullo