Traditionally chanted at the beginning of asana practice. This is an invocation of Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras.
The closing prayer (Mangala Mantrah) is an affirmation for peace and prosperity for all sentient beings. It is tradionally recited in samastitih or padmasana at the close of practice, just beore taking rest.
On the whole, I don’t recommend practice manuals. The traditional way of learning asana, with hands on help from a teacher, cannot be bettered. That said, it can help to have extra resources if you wish to know a bit more about what you’re doing (and why you’re doing it).
R Sharath Jois
KPJAYI education programme 2013 / 14
An excellent study aid, especially for students wishing to learn the count, asana names, chants and principles of the practice. There is an easy to follow, illustrated section on asana. Extra resources include supplemental postures for therapy, shanti mantras and some simple breathing exercises. Find it in Amazon
Some shalas carry Sharath’s book if the teacher has recently attended the KPJAYI so it’s worth asking at yours.
There is a downloadable pdf of the book on scribd. View / Download it here
Sharmilla Desai and Anna Wise
The first book to date dedicated to the practice of Astanga Yoga during pregnancy and motherhood. It draws on personal experiences mainly in the form of interviews. There is also a section on how to approach asana practice during and after pregnancy.
Patanjali lays out the eight limbs (Astanga) of yoga. Its not an easy read and a helpful commentary is vital at least the first time around. There are many translations with commentaries so I am recommending those that I have found the most helpful. The following list is by no means comprehensive.
Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood
Vedanta Press 1953
Within the Epic Mahabharata, but widely known as a stand alone text, Krishna and Arjuna’s discourse on yoga is essential reading for anyone contemplating life, the universe and everything! As with the yoga sutras, a good commentary helps first time around.
Eknath Easwaren’s translation and commentary are very readable. He also wrote a companion book called essence of the Bhagavad Gita dealing with its themes and their relevance today.
Nilgiri Press 2007
Nilgiri Press 2011
Gavin Flood and Charles Martin
This is a very poetic and readable translation by Gavin Flood, written in and Charles Martin but it has no commentary.
Some knowledge of Vedas and Upanishads is helpful when studying the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali. The Upanishads include some of the earliest known writings on yoga to date.
Harper Collins 2006
A free download of this book is available here
Nilgiri press 2009
A 15th Century text detailing the various practices associated with asana and pranayama.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Translated by Swami Satyananda
Bihar School of Yoga 1985
Find it at the Yoga Matters website
Clydeside Press 2014
The classic yoga texts are an ocean of wisdom and studying them can feel like setting off in a very wobbly canoe. Hamish is not the first teacher to write a guide to the crucial texts but I don’t know of anyone else who presents it in such a precise, simple style. Hamish writes the way he teaches.
It’s not always easy to translate Sanskrit words into English. Dharma, says the introduction, can be taken to mean law, duty and way. As far as this book’s title is concerned it means ‘that which supports”
This book is a support for practice. The reader is introduced to texts and mantras, which can help, deepen one’s understanding of the practice. There are synopses of classics like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Not to mention the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are helpful introductions to the philosophy systems at the heart of yoga (for example Vedanta, Samkya and Buddhism).
Buy it here
James Mallinson and Mark Singleton
Penguin classics 2017
A collection of core teachings and texts from different schools and eras.
Buy it here
Its history, literature, philosophy and practice
Hohm Press 1998
An encyclopaedic look at yoga throughout history.
Buy it at the Waterstones website