Books—The Basics

One question that I often hear is this:  Are there any books you think I should read?  The short answer is yes.  The long answer starts below.  Before we get to the long answer, I should point out that every yoga journey has stages.  If you’re not at the stage in your journey where reading yoga texts warms your heart, no worries, keep enjoying the benefits of yoga as they come to you!

I need to say something about another thing I often hear in relation to books on yoga:  Scripture makes me feel dumb.  When I hear this, one of two things are usually happening; sometimes both are happening!  First, you’re probably comparing your understanding of scripture to someone else—usually someone who has been studying scripture much longer than you.  Second, you’re trying to digest too much of it at once.

One student once told me that my understanding of scripture intimidated them.  It made them feel stupid was what they said.  I recently heard a similar sentiment expressed although not directed at me quite so personally.  So, how do I read and come to understand scripture?

How to Read Scripture

First, just read the thing and read it fairly fast.  Some of it will make sense to you, you’ll feel your head nod as you read.  What about the rest, the parts you don’t even have a clue about?  Don’t worry about the rest.

Second, read the text again but now pay attention to the bits that made your head nod.  Read a little before and after those parts.  Does what you read add to the part that made the head nod?  If yes, great!  If not, no problem.  It will be there for later.

Third, figure out how to use what you have understood.  How can you apply it during your time on the mat and, more importantly, how does that work off the mat?  Does it work as advertised?  Your understanding + experience = knowledge.  That knowledge will change the way you read the scriptures the next time.

There are more intense ways to study scripture but I’ll save those for another post.  Let’s get to the book lists!

Yoga Basics

These are the basic books that I recommend to anyone who recognizes there is more to yoga than just touching the toes.

  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali ○ The Threads of Union ○ Translation by BonGiovanni
    Not the most accessible translation, the language is dated but it works well for the “just read it fast” aspect.  Also, it’s free.
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras
    by Sri Swami Satchidananda
    Available at
    Swami Satchidananda’s translation is much easier to read than BonGiovanni’s and his commentary is both understandable and entertaining.
  • The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita: a Commentary for Modern Readers
    by Sri Swami Satchidananda
    Available at
    Swami Satchidananda’s translation is an easy read and, like his commentary on the Yoga Sutras, the commentary is both understandable and entertaining.

Amrit Yoga Basics

The books above are for everyone who practices yoga.  These books bekow give insight into Amrit Yoga.  Why Amrit Yoga?  Let me quote my friend, Russ Mobley from when we first met in 2014:

I’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years and I took these yoga classes in Ocala (Florida) from this young lady, Ashley was her name, and I think that was the first time I ever experienced yoga.  Ramdas, I keep hearing yoga teachers talk about the Witness.  I’ve read a lot about yoga and I’ve practiced it for years but I don’t know what Witness is.  Do you know what that is?

I asked Russ if he had six minutes to spare, he did.  Seven minutes later, he knew what Witness is.  Today, he still lives at the Amrit Yoga Institute and helps share Amrit Yoga with the world.  For me, I started practicing Amrit Yoga seven years after I first began my yoga journey.  Amrit Yoga brought a screeching halt to 30 years of depression and suicide attempts.  Now, let’s get to the books!

  • Amrit Yoga and the Yoga Sutras
    by Yogi Amrit Desai
    Available at IAm.Yoga
    In this book, Yogi Desai explains how Amrit Yoga translates the Yoga Sutras into a practical practice on the mat and in daily life.
  • Amrit Yoga: Explore, Expand, Experience the Spiritual Depth of Yoga
    by Yogi Amrit Desai
    Available at IAm.Yoga
    In this book, Yogi Desai gives insight into his own Kundalini awakening experience and how it became the basis for the Integrated Amrit Methods of practicing yoga.
  • Infinite Grace: The Story of My Spiritual Lineage
    by Swami Rajarshi Muni
    Available at IAm.Yoga
  • Rajarshi Muni, Yogi Desai’s guru-brother, tells the story of their guru, Swami Kripalu.  To understand the depth of the Lineage that created Amrit Yoga, this book is a must read.

In the next post, we’ll dig a bit deeper.  Until then,

Jai Bhagwan