With the last chills of winter slowly fading away and the Spring Equinox just around the corner (March 20, ya’ll), now is the perfect time to shake out all those winter cobwebs and do some serious spring cleaning — of the mind, body, and spirit, that is. (Although certainly feel free to give your apartment a good scrub too, if needed.) And these essential books for every yoga girl are a great place to start.
Although I’m a fairly regular practitioner of the art of yoga, I have noticed that my practice — like just about everything else in my life — feels more invigorated and inspired with the arrival of spring. The sun is higher, the is sky bluer, and the air is more refreshing — weather that is just begging you to roll up your mat and take your vinyāsa flow outside. But before you do, be sure to reawaken your mind, spirit, and yoga practice by diving into some of these amazing books that encourage mindfulness, guide spiritual journeys, and are sure to have you striking your strongest goddess pose yet.
1. Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen
What would a true yoga girl’s library be without a copy of Yoga Girl on her shelves? You follow her on Instagram, you’re subscribed to her fabulous blog, you’ve got her TED Talk bookmarked in your favorite web browser — now all you need is a copy of her book. Part memoir, part yoga guide, Yoga Girl takes emerging and experienced yogis alike on a journey from Rachel Brathen’s hometown in Sweden, through her adventures in Costa Rica, to the amazing life she’s built for herself in Aruba, pose by pose. You’ll be all kinds of inspired.
2. The Goddess Pose by Michelle Goldberg
Although every serious yogini will recognize Indra Devi as the original yoga girl, you may not know her whole story — but you totally should, because it’s a good one. In The Goddess Pose , Michelle Goldberg traces Devi’s life, from her birth in Russia in 1899, from where she was forced to flee the Russian Revolution as a teen. Then Devi traveled first to Germany, and on to India, where she discovered the secrets of yoga. Finally, she went worldwide with them. Yup, you’ve got her to thank every time you flow into another downward facing dog.
3. Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
This one’s a yoga classic, written by one of the most celebrated yoga teachers in the world. In Light on Yoga , founder of the “Iyengar Yoga” style of practice, B.K.S. Iyengar, guides readers through the philosophy behind the healing art of yoga, exploring poses and breathing exercises designed to open the heart, inspire the mind, and strengthen the body. Definitely a yogini must-read.
4. Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom by Colleen Saidman Yee
Colleen Saidman Yee has led quite a life — from heroin user turned global fashion model, Yee felt her life shift from the moment she stepped into her very first yoga class. Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom tells the story of Yee’s journey, and how yoga guided her through her own marriages and divorces, childbirth and illness, loss and grief, and ultimately into the fullest, healthiest expression of herself.
5. Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi's Guide to Discovering Your Best Self by Jeff Krasno
From healthy recipes and awesome playlists, to provocative visual art and suggestions for eco-friendly activities, Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self (titled after the yearly festivals that celebrate yoga, music, and mindfulness) will guide readers in great ways to take their yoga practice off the mat and into their whole lives. The best part of this book? You don’t have to read it cover-to-cover. Jump around, circle back, and let your spirit move you through these pages in whatever way makes sense for you — a great exercise in mindfulness.
6. The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World by Pema Chödrön
If you’ve ever breathed your way through the straining muscles of a Yin class, then you probably already know a little bit about the “wisdom of no escape.” Bestselling author and American-Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön explores this idea more deeply in her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World . Read about how to celebrate the balance of joy and suffering in your day-to-day, how to sit through the highs and lows of your life with peace and compassion, and how to learn to love yourself and the world wholeheartedly.
7. Unfold Your Mat, Unfold Yourself by Anne Samit
This collection of essays will take you on a journey through movement, to truth — all from the space of your yoga mat. Although Anne Samit approached yoga as a supplement to her exercise regimen, she quickly discovered the spiritual benefits of the practices as well. In her collection of essays, Unfold Your Mat, Unfold Yourself , Samit explores the healing power of mindful movement — both physically and spiritually.
8. Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer
“In flagrant defiance of my longtime policy of never entering a structure adorned with Tibetan prayer flags, I removed my shoes, paid my ten bucks, and walked in…” So begins Claire Dederer’s refreshing, irreverent, and heartwarming memoir, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses , about her parallel journeys — one through yoga, and the other through her life. By learning how to open up, let go, be a little bit freer and a little messier, Dederer took the lessons learned in her yoga class into her life off the mat, and they made all the difference.
9. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi reads almost like a fairy tale — one that tells the true story of Paramahansa Yogananda’s life of travel, study, teaching, and yoga practice. From meeting with Mahatma Gandhi to embarking upon a decade’s worth of physical and spiritual training in the hermitage of his yoga master, Yogananda life story is told alongside the ancient history of yoga and it’s healing benefits. You’ll come away from this one feeling totally inspired and ready to hit the mat.
10. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant
Filled with daily meditations, guidance for personal healing and transformation, and Iyanla Vanzant’s own story, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth , will benefit any yoga practice by encouraging mindfulness, personal exploration, and the art of journaling. Covering everything from learning self-love to cultivating peace, this book is a great way to extend your zen well beyond yoga class.
11. Be Here Now by Ram Dass
If the cover of this book alone doesn’t convince you you’re about to embark upon a journey of the mind, spirit, and senses, then the first few pages of Be Here Now certainly will. When psychologist Dr. Richard Alpert first began his conversion into Baba Ram Dass, he had no idea what exactly he was in for. But now his chronicle of that journey, Be Here Now, has joined the ranks of a yogini must read. Guided through India by Western yogi Bhagavan Das, Ram Dass encountered the spiritual side of human nature in ways he couldn’t have possibly predicted, and they changed the course of his life — one once dedicated to science — forever.
12. Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea by Jaimal Yogis
For anyone whose yoga practice goes hand-in-hand with a surf board (SUP Yoga, anyone?) Jaimal Yogis memoir, Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea , is a must-read. Burnt out by his childhood spent in suburbia and convinced that there had to be more to live, Yogis ran away to Hawaii (with a copy of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, of course) and found himself on the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Check it out.