Five Favorite Books on Yoga (and related) Filosophy.
Oops. Philosophy. I just couldn't resist having everything start with an F. So sue me. Fue me.
Its been about 200 Jeremy Bearimies since this shelter-in-place began. I had quite a few unread books waiting to keep me company, but I've been having trouble focusing on...well...anything. The idea of committing to hundreds of pages on one narrative, something that typically brings me great joy, has proven nearly impossible. Rather than continuing to beat myself up about it, I've gone back to a few favorite yoga (and yoga-adjacent) texts, especially the ones that can be parsed and read sporadically while losing none of their potency.
Below is list of Five of my Favorites. Primarily yoga-based philosophy with a nice toe-dip into Buddhist thought. These are not beautiful, in-depth reviews, just a few sentences to give you an idea of why they're my faves. I hope you'll consider ordering the ones that speak to you from your own independent, local bookshop; if you don't have a favorite bookshop, I've also included links to a couple of mine! If you pick one (or more) up and read them, I hope you'll comment with your thoughts, or email me, or send an owl. Let me know what you think.
1. Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your yoga Practice to Create a Just World - Michelle Cassandra Johnson
I have trouble knowing where to begin in describing my love for this book, and the work Michelle Cassandra Johnson is doing. The title is drawn from a verse in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna tells Arjuna that "Yoga is skillfulness in action." Sometimes people take this in the context of being skillful in asana (the physical postures that we do), but in the Gita there is no mention of practicing triangle pose. It is about skill in the actions of life. In her teaching, Johnson talks about the practice of yoga being access to breath. We learn to access our breath, and then we are ready to make space for others to breathe. And so, the entire practice of yoga is one of liberation. However, in today's world, liberation is not equally available to all peoples. In this book the principles of yoga philosophy are brought together with the work of dismantling racism in a way that is accessible and actionable.
It's a very quick read, with big ideas that burn slow and long, filled with practices that will stay with you forever.
2. Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice
This is one of my most-often recommended books. I offer it particularly to folks who have been taking some asana classes and heard bits and pieces of philosophy, but want a broader understanding of what it all means. Ganga White's friendly style of writing and clear understanding of complex philosophies makes for a delightful read. It is non-dogmatic in approach, which keeps it relevant to people from all manner of backgrounds. It's like having a good friend chat with you about some stuff they know that you don't know just yet. An introduction. An overview. A great place to start.
(Oh, P.S., there's a foreword written by Sting. Sting, I tell you! So it must be a cool book!