Chants with Tom

Chants and more

The opening Mantra

Traditionally chanted at the beginning of asana practice. This is an invocation of Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras.

The Closing Prayer

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.

Practice Manuals

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).

Astanga Yoga Anusthana

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

Yoga Sadhana for Mothers

Sharmilla Desai and Anna Wise
Yogawords 2014

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.

Buy it here 

The classics

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

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.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Edwin Bryant
North Point 2013

Find it in Amazon

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

BKS Iyengar
Harper `Collins 1993.

Find it in Amazon

Yoga: The discipline of freedom

Barbara Stoller Miller
Bantam 1998

Find it in Amazon

How to Know God

Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood
Vedanta Press 1953

The Bhagavad Gita

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.

The Bhagavad Gita

Eknath Easwaren
Nilgiri Press 2007

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita

Eknath Easwaren
Nilgiri Press 2011

Buy it here

The Bhagavad Gita, a new translation

Gavin Flood and Charles Martin
Norton 2012

This is a very poetic and readable translation by Gavin Flood, written in and Charles Martin but it has no commentary.

Find it in Amazon

The Upanishads

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.

Principal Upanishads

Radhakrisnan S
Harper Collins 2006

A free download of this book is available here

Essence of the Upanishads

Eknath Easwaren
Nilgiri press 2009

Read it at the Blue Mountain Centre of Meditation website

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

A 15th Century text detailing the various practices associated with asana and pranayama.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Maharishi Swatmarama
Translated by Swami Satyananda
Bihar School of Yoga 1985

Find it at the Yoga Matters website

Modern texts

Yoga Dharma

Hamish Hendry
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

Roots of Yoga

James Mallinson and Mark Singleton
Penguin classics 2017

A collection of core teachings and texts from different schools and eras.

Buy it here

The Yoga Tradition

Its history, literature, philosophy and practice
Georg Feuersten
Hohm Press 1998

An encyclopaedic look at yoga throughout history.

Buy it at the Waterstones website