An essential first step to starting a yoga practice is finding a good book that will teach you the basics. The best yoga books for beginners should contain information on the history of yoga, yoga philosophy, step-by-step instructions on how to properly and safely practice yoga poses, basic breathing techniques, and meditation techniques. There are many different types of books available for purchase on Amazon and other booksellers, so we’ve gone over them all to give you our recommendations for the yoga books that will best teach you the basic principles of yoga.
Benefits of Using a Yoga Book
You don’t have to buy the most expensive or newest book, but getting one that will help you understand the basics of yoga is important. While there are tons of beginner resources online, having a physical book by your side can be helpful on your yoga journey. A beginner’s book will often cover various aspects of yoga and health benefits that you may not be exposed to online. A book also provides a clear and linear process for learning the basics of yoga. You have something tangible to refer to when you don’t know what your yoga teacher taught in class, or when you are having trouble performing a particular exercise at home.
Some yogis prefer reading from their phone or tablet over a traditional paperback because they want an easy way to read while practicing. If this is the case for you, consider purchasing a digital version of the book instead. At the top of the Amazon page, look for the box to change the format to Kindle.
Eight great yoga books for beginners
The list of yoga books below is the absolute best for beginners that are still available in print. We have deliberately not listed books that concentrate on a particular type of yoga, but rather have chosen the titles that deal with a more general yoga practice. We also left out the classic Light on Yoga book as we believe it is too complex and poorly formatted for beginners to easily access.
Yoga: Mastering the Basics by Anderson and Sovik
This book covers all aspects of yoga practice, including postures, breath, relaxation, meditation, and lifestyle. It also includes a basic introduction to yoga philosophy. It offers two illustrated yoga sequences and over 400 photographs. It contains asana sequences and poses that are sorted by posture type and serve as a quick reference to specific areas of the body. Each section has a number of poses organized by pose type so you can quickly find what you need.
30 essential yoga poses by Judith Lasater
This book is easy to follow, with each pose containing approximately 4-5 pages of text and photos, with suggestions for variations. The photos are large and clear, and are accompanied by simple descriptions of proper alignment and breathing. Not only does she give great information about the benefits of yoga postures, but she also gives recommendations for timing them.
Christina Brown’s Yoga Bible
With over 170 postures, this book is a comprehensive resource for anyone who wishes to practice yoga. It contains detailed descriptions of each posture, including variations and modifications. She divided the book into sections based on posture (sitting, standing, etc.) and arranged the poses so that they flow into each other to make it easier to transition from one to the other. Each asana is accompanied by clear photos and diagrams that make it easier to understand what is happening in each pose. One caveat – the small size and binding make it difficult for the book to stay open.
Yoga for beginners by Ansari and Lark
This book is perfect for anyone looking to begin a home yoga routine. It covers everything you need to know about starting a home exercise, including breathing exercises, stretches, and poses. You will find step-by-step instructions for each pose, along with helpful photos and information on modifications, how long to hold the pose, and a description of the meaning of each pose and its uses. There is a brief history of yoga as well as additional breathing and meditation practices. The spiral binding makes it easy to turn the pages and allows easy access to the information, which can lie flat or stand up for viewing while you practice.
Yoga Class: 8 Basic Yoga Lessons for Beginners by Timothy Burgin
This beginner’s book is unique in that it takes the beginner yoga practitioner through eight in-depth lessons. Each lesson begins with the basic philosophy of practice and focuses on certain principles of alignment. You will practice the poses within a sequence that grows and changes as the lessons progress. The book begins with the history and philosophy of yoga and general guidelines for its practice. As the lessons progress, you will learn about pranayama, meditation and mental focus, anatomy, alignment principles, physical benefits, and eight yoga pose sequences.
Yoga: The Iyengar Path by Silva Mehta
This is a nicely formatted book with clear photos and instructions that are easy to read and follow. The clear and concise explanations are accompanied by great photos that show correct postures from different perspectives. The level of experience required for each pose is indicated by a diamond guide that indicates the level of difficulty for each pose. Two great features in this book are the presentation of the asana names in Devanagari, Sanskrit, and English and the use of props to demonstrate proper alignment and technique. This book mainly focuses on the basic Iyengar yoga poses, but there is also a brief section on pranayama in the background.
Hatha Yoga illustrated by Kirk, Boon and DiTuro
Nearly 650 full color photos illustrate 77 basic poses and show how to achieve the correct alignment and shape for a challenging yet safe exercise. They show intermediate steps as well as gentle variations for those who have difficulty reaching the full pose. One of the best features of this book is the alphabetical and type grouped indexes of the poses with pictures. This is a super easy way to explore and look up the poses for pictures, especially if you don’t know the name.
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Silence by Erich Schiffmann
This in-depth guide focuses more on the spiritual aspects of practicing the poses and breathing exercises than the path to inner peace through yoga. This book offers easy-to-follow techniques to help people find their own sense of peace and beauty in everyday life. This book also contains meditations to help promote self-actualization, relieve stress, and increase creativity, as well as many poses and routines that help build strength, tone the body, and improve flexibility.