How should you prepare yourself for yoga teacher training? Get reading! While keeping up a regular asana practice is an important part of the process, getting a head start with some high-quality reading is a must. But where do you start? There are a LOT of yoga books out there! Here's Adore Yoga's guide to the Top 3 Yoga Books for would-be yoga teachers)
1. The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar
The Heart of Yoga is one of the most influential and important books on yoga. Written by TKV Desikachar, the son of Sri Krishnamacharya who is often described as the grandfather of modern yoga, it’s a deceptively simple book written in a straightforward, easy to read style. I’ve read this book every year for over 15 years and each time I pick it up I find a paragraph that I swear I’ve never read before. And that’s the beauty of this book – you can read it according to YOUR level of understanding, from total beginner to experienced practitioner. As you grow and learn, so the layers of complexity in the text unfold. It covers all the key principles of classical hatha yoga, including asana, sequencing, pranayama and meditation. It also delves into yoga philosophy, offering practical ways of understanding one of yoga’s most famous texts – the 2,000 year old Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In fact, the Heart of Yoga contains a full translation of the Yoga Sutras, complete with Desikachar’s no-nonsense commentary. This book is a MUST for all serious students of yoga and it's a mandatory text for all Adore Yoga Teacher Trainings, from Level 1 RYT 200 right through to 1000hr Yoga Therapist Certification.
2. Teaching Yoga: Exploring the teacher-student relationship by Donna Farhi
This book won’t show you how to perform asana or teach pranayama. It’s about the relationship between teacher and student and should be mandatory reading for all teacher trainees. The yoga industry has been rocked by dozens of scandals in recent years, from sexual abuse to financial mismanagement. Nearly every major yoga tradition, including Satyananda, the Krishnamacharya lineage, Yoga in Daily Life, Jivamukti and Anusara, have been devastated by the shocking behaviour of senior figures past and present. And still, ethics are hardly touched on in yoga teacher trainings, largely ignored by industry bodies and are seldom taught in a way that demands the deep critical thinking that every yoga teacher should cultivate. Donna Farhi covers the critical ethical questions for yoga teachers, from exploring the role of teacher (yes, students sometimes put you on a pedestal and that’s a big responsibility), to appropriate teaching practices (when is a class too big? When are adjustments not ok? Is it ever ok to sleep with a student?) through to professional conduct (how much should you charge? Should you keep confidentiality when a student hints at self harm? How do you handle complaints?) This book is a reminder that the 8 Limbs of Yoga begin with ethics, not asana.
3. Yoga – The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann
Erich Schiffmann learned from the greats (including TKV Desikachar, BKS Iyengar, Vanda Scaravelli and Krishnamurti) and has grown into one of the wisest yogis teaching today. This 1996 book includes plenty of asana instruction, but that’s not where the jewels lie. The first two parts of the book are a treasure trove of accessible yogic wisdom. Schiffmann writes with passion and sensitivity, describing the subtleties of the ‘feeling-tone’ and exploring gentle ways to move from busy preoccupation to a profound experience of stillness in which we experience what we really are: ‘God Substance, Consciousness, Love.’ If that all sounds a bit out-there for you, just go with it. Schiffmann’s an engaging writer who uses beautiful analogies to describe the experiences of yoga – he talks about the breath as being the ‘wind through the instrument.’ There’s a lot of clear, easy to follow instruction on asana and meditation, too. I just love this book.
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Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.