Here are (holiday) gift suggestions for your yoga teacher. You’ll notice that the titles I’ve chosen lean towards the academic (history, anthropology) side — I am after all, an ex-academic.
Eighty-four Asanas (A survey of traditions) by Gudrun Buhnemann: Make sure you get the 2011 edition.
Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace by N.E. Sjoman: It looks like its price on Amazon has dropped considerably, in the past a used copy of this title was at least $75. I’ve reviewed this here and here.
Yoga Body by Mark Singleton: My review of this book was the first ever entry on this blog!
Krishnamacharya (His Life and Teachings) by A.G. Mohan: I really enjoyed this short book by one of Krishnamacharya’s longstanding students.
Extra Love (The Art of Hands-on Assists) by Jill Abelson: One of my pet peeves is that many yoga instructors don’t spend enough time teaching safety precautions and learning how to properly assist students. Popular Jivamukti Yoga teacher, Jill Abelson (formerly based in DC, but now in SF), has been conducting workshops on yoga assists for years. I’m glad she put together this well-written manual.
History of Yoga
Yoga in Practice, edited by David Gordon White: I’m currently reading this just published title. White’s introductory essay is a fantastic overview of Yoga across several religious traditions.
History of Modern Yoga by Elizabeth de Michelis: I’ve met several teachers who’ve read Singleton’s book, and I always point them towards this book. Vedanta and Neo-vedanta have heavily influenced modern yoga but I suspect many teachers are unaware of the historical impact of the movements discussed in this book.
Yoga in Modern India by Joseph Alter: Make sure you get the 2010 edition.
Positioning Yoga by Sara Strauss: A well-written ethnographic study of Swami Sivananda’s Divine Life Society. Modern postural yoga instructors seem to be descended mostly from either Krishnamacharya or Sivananda. Many contemporary teachers in the US are familiar with Krishnamacharya either directly or through his students (who founded Ashtanga and Iyyengar yoga). The late Swami Sivananda also has his share of famous students, including Mircea Eliade, Lilias Follan, Sachtidananda (Integral Yoga) and Satyananda (Bihar School).
Nine Lives by William Dalrymple: I love this book, I’ve read each chapter multiple times.
Wandering with Sadhus by Sondra Hausner: I learned so much from this book, and unlike many academic titles, it is extremely readable and even entertaining. Hausner conducts an ethnographic study of renunciates, and along the way provides a wonderful overview of the organizational structures behind the scene.
Darsan (Seeing the Divine Image in India) by Diana Eck: A great guide to the statues that are so popular in Yoga studios.
Transcendent in America (Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion) by Lola Williamson: Profiles the Self-Realization Fellowship, Transcendental Meditation, and Siddha Yoga, through interviews with longterm and former members. (Williamson herself was a former member of two of the organizations.)
White Lama (The Life of Tantric Yogi Theos Bernard) by Douglas Veenhof: I wouldn’t be shocked if this book becomes the basis for a movie. Veenhof does an incredible job retracing Bernard’s life — though there are sections where the detailed narrative reminds me of Bob Woodward.
Yoga in the Modern World edited by Mark Singleton and Jean Byrne: An underrated collection of essays.
Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life by Robert Fuller: I just stumbled upon this 1989 title, and already I’ve learned so much about the history of different forms of alternative medicine.