Yoga is supposed to be a calm and relaxing experience, but there is little calm or relaxing about trying to find the best yoga books. It seems everyone has an opinion and a lot of them try too hard to get you to do things and think about things, their way. As a beginner, it is more important that you find poses that help you relax your mind and make your body stronger. If that means listening to acid rock while thinking about writing lines of Java code, and it works for you, then so be it.
The books in my best yoga books list aim squarely at allowing you to find the poses, pace, and attitude that helps you get started in and enjoy yoga o your own terms.
Cory Martin has what I think of as not just one of the best yoga books for beginners, but the best book there is for the newcomer, Yoga for Beginners: Simple Yoga Poses to Calm Your Mind and Strengthen Your Body. This 220-page book spends most of its time showing you how to achieve the 35 poses he included in the book and then rounds it all off with a little on meditations and nutrition.
The logical progression Cory uses through the book really helps the beginner with explaining the terms, then showing the poses (and alternate poses if one pose is too difficult) and explaining what the pose is supposed to accomplish, and then moving on to sequences of poses. This is not one of those “Here is bound ankle pose, do that” books with no explanation as to why you would want to do it.
I also find the line drawings easier than a lot of the color photographs used in some yoga books to understand and replicate. Perhaps it is their simplicity that makes them easy to follow, but for whatever reason, I like them.
This book comes in both Kindle and print edition, personally I prefer the print edition but that is just me. If you just want one of the best yoga books for beginners, this is the one you should get.
This next book, Science of Yoga: Understand the Anatomy and Physiology to Perfect Your Practice by Ann Swanson, is a favorite and probably not at all what you expected to find on this list. Ann takes a look at the actual anatomy of the person while performing yoga, showing how it physically affects there body. There is no discussion of chakras or spirituality in this text. That isn’t a knock on the spiritual side of yoga, I am just saying there is a ton of material written on the spiritual side and very little on the physical side which makes me really appreciate this book.
Inside is a ton of full-color drawings showing exactly how the body is affected by a pose. This allows you to understand how exactly each pose will help you so you can target exactly what you want to work on.
I really like the way the author starts out with an introduction of overall anatomy including the basics of how each system works. There are diagrams on the skeletal system, joints, muscles, and much more. This gives you a great base of knowledge of how the body actually works so later in the book you will understand how each pose affects the various parts and systems of the body.
She also does a wonderful job of breaking a lot of information down into small and digestible pieces so it never becomes a chore to read the book. This is one of those books that you may read from cover to cover to start with, but absolutely will be back using it as a reference time and time again. Truly one of the best yoga books for beginners you will find anywhere.
Once you understand the basics of yoga and know how it affects your body, then you need to build up your library of poses which is where Yoga: The Top 100 Best Yoga Poses comes in. This book will help you find the specific poses to help you accomplish your specific goals.
Although the author starts with some basics on yoga I don’t really feel this is that much of a complete beginner’s book in the same way as Yoga for Beginners at the top of this list is. While a complete novice certainly could start with this book, I would honestly say this is a better second or third book for the complete newcomer.
What I really like about this book is that it takes the 100 poses she shows you and breaks it down into sections that address one section of the body. For example, there is a section on yoga for the legs, another for the back, another for the arms and shoulders, etc. This is perfect for helping the beginner find poses to address their specific goals.
There is no doubt this is one of the best yoga books for beginners, I just think it should be a second or third book purchase. It does belong on every yoga student’s shelf though.
This large, 400-page tomb, The Yoga Bible is probably the most complete work on yoga poses out there, which is both it’s best selling point, and it’s Achilles’ heel. Even so, it is one of the best yoga books for beginners no matter how you look at it.
The good, which is very very good, is that this book has over 150 poses which are very well explained and covered. No other book in this best yoga books for beginners list has this many, and few do this good of a job showing you the poses and explaining their purpose is. The book also has variations on the poses to make sure there are alternatives should one not be suitable for you.
The bad is that virtually everything else is sacrificed in order to do such a fantastic job at covering that large a number of poses. That means that the history, purpose, spirituality, meditation, and nutrition aspects all take a back seat, sometimes really far back.
This is another one of the best yoga books for beginners that I think would be better suited to a second (behind Yoga for Beginners) or third book purchase. It isn’t that you couldn’t start from this book, it is just I think the complete novice would benefit from a little more of a basic primer before jumping into this excellent book.
Where the last two books have eschewed the spirituality, breathing, and meditation aspects of yoga in favor of the poses, The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by Desikachar goes the other direction. This is quite possibly at covering those subjects while still giving you enough instruction on poses to make it one of the absolute best yoga books for beginners.
While some of the best yoga books for beginners are written for the person who just wants a little more flexibility or to get in a little better shape, Desikachar shows you how to do all of yoga, mind, body, and spirit. As one of the true world-renowned yoga masters, his gentle guidance leads you step by step on your path.
This is not just one of the best yoga books for beginners out there, it is a classic unto itself. If you are looking for the whole yoga package, this is the book for you.