The answer is both easy and difficult; although I have seen and read lots of books on yoga, usually there are always pros and cons in every book. In some books there are no significant drawbacks, but the information is not as detailed as I would like it to be.
Another point is that there is no a single book that fits any student with various level of advancement in yoga. Often books have a target audience of potential readers such as ‘yoga for beginners’, or ‘advanced yoga poses’, etc.
Here I would like to list the best books about yoga for different yoga students.
The Best Yoga Book for Beginners
No doubt, the best book about yoga for beginners is this:
Yoga and Health, by Selvarajan Yesudian
Why it is the best one? It is compact but full of necessary details on yoga poses and pranayama; along with that the book mentioned a unique yoga system of muscle training with amazing results. The book is written in simple and easy to understand language, and have some pictures of acceptable quality. Another great advantage is that the yoga program is prepared for you; it covers 21 weeks of asana and pranayama (yoga breathing exercises) with gradual development, so you can simply follow it and progress in your own yoga practice.
Why I’m recommending it to you?
I have gone through the whole book myself, meaning, I have practiced every pose and exercise mentioned in the book (this is how I learned my first yoga asanas!). The.Book.Is.Great! Especially for beginners. I recommend it.
The next my favorite book is this:
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
The book that has almost everything in it to allow you develop your own yoga routine till the total advancement. It has lots of yoga poses with very detailed description as well as yoga breathing exercises. But this is not the end – there are more subtle practices described in an easy to read language: techniques of mudras and bandhas.
You will also find valuable information on shat-karmas and kriyas.
If you consider yourself a slightly more advances yoga person, and want to go farther in your practice, this book has almost everything for you.
Because there is no comprehensive information on meditation. But you can find it in other books by the same author. Swami Satyananda Saraswati has left a great legacy of yoga teachings, compiled in the book A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya.
I own this book and it is great; but it is so encompassing that probably won’t fit every beginner (though it can really take you from the very beginning and make a yoga master).
So these are definitely the best books to learn about yoga. While having read many books on the subject, these were always the best yoga books for beginners that I recommended to my students and friends.
Now, if you are looking for the best book on Hatha yoga in general, covering mainly the asana performance, then there is Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika, by B. K. S. Iyengar. This is a famous work with the description of the majority of yoga poses ranked in terms of difficulty.
Yes, probably this is the best book on yoga poses, and you can also learn yoga from it even if you are a beginner. The only thing the book lacks, in my opinion, is the description of subtle influences and effects of asanas and pranayamas, which is available in the books I mentioned above. Otherwise it is also a great work by a well known yoga master and guru.
B. K. S. Iyengar has another good book on yoga breathing called Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing. This book is also very popular, but honestly, I haven’t used it a lot in my personal practice since I found the books of Swami Satyananda Saraswati full of all the required information on pranayama.
In the conclusion I have to mention another great yoga teacher, Swami Shivananda, who wrote numerous books on yoga. I also find his books practical and filled with elevated knowledge of the Self. There is one great book that follows Sivananda yoga tradition:
Check this book; it is made in a contemporary and convenient way to help you learn yoga easily and effectively.
So, I guess, I have mentioned all my favorite books on yoga, though I have read much more of them, than this list shows. I hope I helped you to find out what is the best yoga book. If you have a book, and consider learning yoga from it, but have some doubts, shoot me a message or leave a comment below – I’ll check it and give an advice if I can.