The Ancient Texts
To further explore Yoga philosophy, I urge you to go directly to the ancient texts. Although they have a reputation for being difficult, I personally find them to be exceptionally direct and inspiring, often mind-blowing.
It does take a little getting used to the rich metaphorical language they use. And they contain some ancient beliefs that won’t necessarily make sense to you today.
But it’s well worth the effort, and you’ll find it very useful to refer back to The Six Big Ideas as you read these texts.
It’s important to find an accessible version with great commentary. They are not all the same. These are the best versions I’ve found:
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell. (See my review at Falling Head-Over-Heels in Love with the Universe.)
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, beautifully translated and explained in Part III of The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar. ( The rest of the book is good, too, but I’m including it here for the Yoga Sutra.)
The Upanishads, lovingly introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran.
For a quick feel for what these texts are about, see What Is It That Brings Us Happiness? (the next chapter.)
If I had to recommend a single book for Yoga practice it would be:
Kripalu Yoga–A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat by Richard Faulds and Senior Teachers of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. The title is self-explanatory. It covers a very wide range of topics in an accessible and “browsable” manner. You can get whatever you need from it right now, and it will continue to serve you for a long time to come.
My favorite Yoga philosophy website is Rod Stryker’s www.parayoga.com. This is a rich and wonderful synthesis of ancient Yoga for modern devotees. Click on LEARN and thoroughly explore all the menus there.
Other Great Books
Here are some other books you might find interesting and useful:
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope. An inspiring exploration of Yoga philosophy, and its relationship to Western religion and psychology–the book that got it all started for me.
Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff. Now the truth can finally be told–Yoga was originally developed by elephants in prehistoric times, and only adopted by humans many years later.
Effortless Wellbeing by Evan Finer. My favorite book on meditation.