Ashtanga Blog

The best books about yoga, philosophy and spirituality

A list of my favourite books about Yoga, Philosophy and Spirituality.

The favourite Yoga Books of Tania Kemou on a table

Reading is one of my big passions. I believe that books can change lives and open not just doors but pathways to new realms of consciousness and realisation. In this blog post I out together a list of some of my favourite Yoga, Philosophy and Spirituality books. If you read one of those and it resonates with you please reach out and say hi, i would love to hear your insights.

Ashtanga Yoga

Yoga Mala - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

This book, written by the founder of Ashtanga Yoga as the style of physical yoga we practice today, outlines the origins of the practice, the philosophy behind it and describes all the asanas of the primary series and their benefits. An essential read by the man who introduced Ashtanga Yoga to the West and made it popular and accessible.

Ashtanga Yoga Anusthana - R. Sharath Jois

If you want to learn the traditional Sanskrit counting of the Primary series, this is where you can find it, directly from the source.

Ashtanga Yoga - The Practice Manual - David Swenson

The Bible of every Ashtanga practitioner. Each pose of the Primary and Intermediate series is detailed and explained with pictures, tips and modifications.

“Guruji”  A portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois through the eyes of his students  - Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern

This book is worth reading if you want to learn more about Pattabhi Jois, how he taught his first Western students back in the 70s, how was life in India back then and what some of his most senior and famous students and worldwide known Ashtangis have to say about him.

Yoga Philosophy & History

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Sri Swami Satchidananda

If you are going to read (and re read) only one book on Yoga philosophy this should be it. In 195 short aphorisms it contains so much timeless wisdom about practice, mastering the mind and achieving harmony in life.

Bhagavad Gita - Stephen Mitchell

One of the world’s greatest spiritual masterpieces about dharma, moral duty and the value of a spiritual teacher as a remover of obstacles and dispeller of darkness. This translation is considered to be the most poetic and the closest to the original Sanskrit.

Yoga Makaranda - Sri T. Krishnamacharya

A book written by the father of modern Yoga, covering subjects like nadis, chakras, prana, mudras, bandhas, kriyas, as well as detailed descriptions of asanas, breathing and vinyasas. A beautiful ode to the benefits and virtues of Yoga, encouraging everyone to practice it.

Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar

A guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga by one of the earliest students of T. Krishnamacharya. The book comprises detailed descriptions and illustrations of the poses and breathing techniques.

The Yoga of the Yogi - Kausthub Desikachar

A book written by the grandson of Sri T. Krishnamacharya about the fascinating life and work of his grandfather, a man who dedicated his life to Yoga and created the concept of Yoga Therapy, as an individualised healing practice.

The deeper dimension of Yoga - Georg Feuerstein

A collection of essays covering all facets of the ancient discipline of Yoga by one of its most important Western scholars. You will learn about the different branches and style of Yoga, its history, ethical teachings, the role of the Guru etc.

The Truth of Yoga - Daniel Simpson

Very interesting and accessible book on the roots and history of Yoga, some common misconceptions about it and interesting thoughts about the value and role of tradition in modern society.

One simple thing - Eddie Stern

One of my favourite books on Yoga by a senior Ashtanga student and teacher. It encapsulates so much wisdom while remaining easy to read and understood even by students that are still at the beginning of their journey.


Ayurveda and the mind - Dr David Frawley

My favourite book on Ayurveda by a Vedic teacher and founder of the American Institute of Vedic studies. He explores the psychological aspect of Ayurveda and gives directions on how to heal our body and mind through diet, mantra, meditation, yoga and other methods.


Functional Anatomy of Yoga - David Keil

Essential read for every yoga student and teacher, coming from an Ashtanga practitioner. In an easily understandable way it connects common anatomy notions with asanas and group of asanas, exploring mechanics, limitations and common injuries.

Psychology - Spirituality - Neuroscience

Freud and Yoga - T.K.V. Desikachar and Hellfried Krusche

A fascinating dialogue between two masters, one great Yogi and scholar of the Sutras and one Freudian psychoanalyst, showing us where these disciplines differ and what they have in common. A beautiful lesson of applied philosophy, allowing us to live a fuller and well examined life.

Modern man in search of a soul - C.G. Jung

An introduction to the thought of Carl Jung, a chief founder of psychoanalysis, exploring topics such as dream analysis, the unconscious, the relationship between psychology and religion and spiritual unease.

Cutting through spiritual materialism - Chögyam Trungpa

The Tibetan meditation master addresses in this book one of the most common pitfalls for every aspirant on the spiritual path - seeing spirituality as a process of refining the ego instead of acknowledging its emptiness.

Spiritual Bypassing - Robert Augustus Masters PhD

An eye opening book on how the ego can transform even the most noble spiritual practices into a tool for its solidification. The common traps when starting one’s spiritual journey and how to avoid them.

Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse

A beautiful book that I have read several times on the story of the Buddha, his childhood and how he changed his destiny, his wanderings in the real world and how he eventually found his path and enlightenment.

The awakening of intelligence - J. Krishnamurti

This book contains discussions on topics such as violence, fear, religion, self-knowledge,  tradition, good and evil and allows for a better understanding of the teachings of the great philosopher.  

The Myth of Normal - Gabor Maté

Renowned physician and addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté explores in this book how modern day living and our environment affect our health, showing Western medicine’s limits and weaknesses and offering hope for a healthier life and future if only we take the leap to reconnect with ourselves.

The body keeps the score - Mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma - Bessel Van Der Kolk

If you are going to read one book about trauma and how it can manifest in our body this is it. One of the world’s experts on traumatic stress offers new pathways of treatment and a holistic approach that heals body, brain and mind.

Healing back pain - John E. Sarno MD

Extremely interesting read on the causes of back and bodily pain in general. This book challenges the common theories on why we are in pain and shows that our state of mind plays a major role in it.

The Polyvagal Theory - Stephen W. Porges

If you want to learn more about the autonomic nervous system and how it affects social behaviour, trust, intimacy and relationships you should definitely read this book by the world’s leading expert on behavioural neurobiology.