Yoga is great for stretching. If you do it enough, you can touch your toes and improve your parallel parking skills by twisting to see behind you.
But, it’s also great for stretching and expanding things beyond your muscles—namely your mind. Through concentration and meditation, in particular, the mind becomes stronger and more agile, in the same way our muscles are strengthened by a Vinyasa class or trip to the gym.
Another way to stretch our minds is through svadhyaya or self-study, which encourages yogis to be students of their practice and the world. One easy way to do this is to read. Since you’re reading this now, you’re off to a smashing start. BRAVO!
I recently had a request to share my favorite yoga and meditation books, so here’s a quick sampling of the ones I turn to most.
Modern yoga resources:
- Living Your Yoga (Judith Lasater)
- Eastern Body, Western Mind (Anodea Judith)
- Yoga for Emotional Balance by my friend Bo Forbes
- Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by the late Georg Feuerstein
- Mudras: Yoga in your Hands (Gertrud Hirschi)
- Anything by B.K.S. Iyengar…
Classical yoga texts (each with multiple translations):
- Bhagavad Gita
- The Upanishads
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
- Wherever You Go There You Are by mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn (and dad to one my dearest friends).
- When Things Fall Apart by no nonsense Buddhist nun Pema Chodron
As an English major, former English teacher, writer, and proud nerd founder of the Om Gal Book Club, it’s no secret that I’m a major bookworm. I even have the knots in my shoulder and neck to prove it from lugging 2-3 books in my handbag at all times. I think it’s time for an e-reader…
And since they’re not all yoga books (not even close), I’ll share what else I’ve been reading lately and what I plan to read next.
- Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by the inimitable Anne Lamott
- Lean In by Facebook COO and feminist superhero Sheryl Sandberg
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, also known as the book that changed my life most this year. (If you don’t have time to read the book, watch her TED Talk).
- Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
- Buddy: How a Rooster Made me a Family Man by my friend and editor of the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory.
- Undiet by Candian gal pal and nutritionista superstar Meghan Telpner
- New & Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (which I could read every day and still have my breathe taken away at least once on each page).
- Learning to Breathe by my friend Priscilla Warner
- Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham
- A literature heavy hitter… like Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina. If I start now, I can finish by Christmas, right?
- The September issue of Vogue—seriously, have you seen this thing? Magazine doesn’t cut it. Definitely a book.
What about you? What are you reading? Which yoga and meditation books expand your mind, and which works of prose or poetry stretch your soul and fill your handbag?