Popular Yoga Philosophy Books

Yoga Philosophy Books - Julie Bladon

“The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras” by Ravi Ravindra

The teaching in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is for the transformation of the whole of a human being – body, mind and soul. The first aim of yoga is the development of a steady attention. Difficulties and obstacles to this steady way of being are discussed in the Yoga Sutras and practices for transformation are suggested. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offer wisdom and inspiration.  Patanjali recommends the eight “limbs” or steps to quiet the mind and achieve a transformation of consciousness.

Scholar Ravi Ravindra offers a fresh and direct translation of Patanjali’s text. The book contains extensive commentary and spiritual exercises. This is an insightful and informative book. It is a book that will be read and re-read with lessons gained every time.

Atha-yoga-anusasanam – Here, now, is the teaching of yoga (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.1)

This very opening aphorism presents a challenge. It could be simply a statement placed at the beginning of an exposition of yoga. However, it is much more instructive to see in it an invitation to practice yoga always and everywhere. Yoga does not require sitting on a cushion in a meditation and in not limited to a specified hour or a particular posture. Each moment is the right moment and the present moment is the best one. Each place is the right place – the place where I now am can be a sacred place.” – The Wisdom of Patnajali’s Yoga Sutras by Ravi Ravindra

“The Wisdom of Yoga – A seeker’s guide to extraordinary living” by Stephen Cope

Stephen Cope; author, psychotherapist, leading American yoga teacher; unlocks the teachings of the Yoga Sutras and yoga wisdom by focusing on contemporary life. He analyses the lives of friends and fellow yoga students looking at a multitude of modern dilemmas such as career issues, relationship issues and dysfunctional family relationships. Looking at their life challenges, Cope brings to light some answers to the struggles experienced in life.

Whilst some people think of yoga as a set of invigorating postures and breathing exercise, this book highlights that the physical practices of yoga are only part of this vast and ancient spiritual science.

Yoga sages systematically explored the essential questions of our human existence: What are the root causes of suffering, and how can we achieve freedom and happiness? What would it be like to function at the maximum potential of our minds, bodies, and spirits? What is an optimal human life?

Cope presents an easy to follow text that explores areas such as the path of inner development, practices to build character and mental power, practicalities for the process of awakening. This is a perfect guide for a more ethical and graceful way of living in the world.

The Bhagavad Gita” by Introduced & Translated by Eknath Easwaran

Easwaran’s best-selling translation of the Bhagavad Gita is readable and easy to follow.  His introduction places the Gita in its historical context, presents key concepts, and brings out the universality and timelessness of its teachings. The book includes chapter introductions, notes and a Sanskrit glossary.

The Gita opens, dramatically, on a battlefield, as the warrior Arjuna turns in anguish to his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, for answers to the fundamental questions of life. Yet the Gita is not what it seems it’s not a dialogue between two mythical figures at the dawn of Indian history. “The battlefield is a perfect backdrop, but the Gita’s subject is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage if he or she is to emerge from life victorious.”

Easwaran (1910-1999) grew up in the Hindu tradition in India, learned Sanskrit from a young age, and became a professor of English literature before coming to the West. He was a gifted teacher and an authority on the Indian classics and world mysticism.

This translation is a timeless classic.  Read it many times and you will discover new wisdom and information each time.

On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure.  Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.” – The Bhagavad Gita, 2:40

“The Great Work of Your Life – A guide for the journey to your true calling” by Stephen Cope

Cope takes readers on a step-by-step guide of the revered tale the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient allegory about the path to dharma told through a timeless dialogue between the fabled archer Arjuna and his divine mentor Krishna.

Busy daily life can sometimes leave you overwhelmed and uncertain about your life’s true path and purpose. Cope says that in order to have a fulfilling life you must discover the deep purpose hidden at the very core of your self. In The Great Work of Your Life, Cope describes the process of unlocking the unique possibility harboured within every human soul. The secret, he asserts, can be found in the pages of a two-thousand-year-old spiritual classic called the Bhagavad Gita.

Cope makes the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita relevant for contemporary readers. He highlight well-known Western figures that have embodied the true dharma path and also uses every day stories to further illustrate the lessons of this classic tale.

If you’re feeling lost in your own life’s journey,The Great Work of Your Life may provide you with answers to the questions you most urgently need addressed—and may help you to find and to embrace your true calling.

This book will offer you guidance and inspiration. It is a book that can be revisited on many occasions and is a good reminder to keep focused on your true path even when times may be challenging or confusing.

Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfil this vocation he can only be one person: himself.” ― Stephen Cope, “The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling”

And now a surprise: Beethoven was deeply inspired by his reading of the Bhagavad Gita.” ― Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

There is a certain kind of action that leads to freedom and fulfilment,” Krishna begins. “A certain kind of action that is always aligned with our true nature.” This is the action that is motivated by dharma. This is the action taken in the service of our sacred calling, our duty, our vocation. In dharma, it is possible to take passionate action without creating suffering. It is possible to find authentic fulfilment of all human possibilities.” ― Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

“The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras” by Nischala Joy Devi

In this book Nischala Joy Devi interprets Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras from a heart-centred, intuitive, feminine perspective resulting in the first translation intended for women. Devi’s interpretation captures the spirit of each sutra and offers practices to embrace the spirituality of yoga in your everyday life.

This is a contemporary interpretation relevant to all yogis, male and female. Simplifying the teachings for use in everyday life.

The yogic practices help us release memories without having to express them either outwardly or in dreams. They also help dissolve unwanted thoughts and feelings as they are forming, relieving the need to see them to fruition or preserve them for a later time. Sometimes while sitting still in meditation or holding an asana (pose), a memory will escape from the bottom of the mental-emotional lake. Like a bubble, it will float through layers of the subconscious and then pop on the surface of the conscious mind.” ― Nischala Joy Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras

To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes:

Kindness to those who are happy
Compassion for those who are less fortunate
Honor for those who embody noble qualities
Equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values
― Nischala Joy Devi

“An Offering of Leaves” by Ruth Lauer-Manenti

A poignant and thoughtful read perfect for aspiring yoga practitioners and any spiritual seekers.

For many years at the Jivamukti Yoga School in New York City, popular and highly regarded yoga teacher Ruth Lauer-Manenti (affectionately known as “Lady Ruth”) has offered her students “dharma talks”—stories from her life that accompany her classes and represent the yogic commitments to ahimsa (non-violence), compassion, and service.

Some of these dharma talks have now been collected in this book, many of them accompanied by a reading from classic Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Composed with humour and sensitivity, An Offering of Leaves” is the perfect gift for the aspiring yoga practitioner and any spiritual seeker wanting to live with thoughtfulness and integrity.

While in Bylakuppe, in Southern India, a territory that had been given over to Tibetan refugees, she was touched by the humble generosity of the Buddhist monks there.

She writes, “An elderly monk came up behind me and slid a piece of cardboard underneath me. He smiled at me, and my cardboard seat felt luxurious… Everyone can give something. In that spirit, I offer this book, like a piece of cardboard to sit on.”

She connects this to a beautiful line in the Bhagavad Gita: “However humble the offering, be it a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, if it is made with love and devotion, I will accept it” (9: 26).

This book is made with love and devotion to share teachings from the ancient yoga teachings.

An easy read and reflecting on the joys and struggles of life. It inspires ways to lead a more thoughtful, compassionate life. This is a touching, universal, honest and humbling book.