Yoga is a moment of peace, a movement towards stillness, it is the dance of energy and emptiness, it is unity of breath, mind and body.
Books I recommend:
Yoga Philosophy & History:
The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice, Georg Feurstein, 2001
The Deeper Dimensions of Yoga: Theory and Practice, Georg Feurstein, 2003
The Path of Yoga: An Essential Guide to Its Principles and Practices, Georg Feurstein, 2011
Tantra: The Path of Ecstacy, Georg Feurstein, 1998
Yoga of Discipline, Swami Chidvilasananda, 1996
Roots of Yoga, James Mallinson, 2017
Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Mark Singleton, 2010
Translations of Original Texts:
The Upanishads Breath Of The Eternal, Sw. Prabhavananda, 1957
Vedanta-Sara of Sadananda, Swami Nikhilananda, 2006
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Edwin F. Bryant, 2013
The Bhagavad Gita, Eknath Easwaran, 2007
Bhagavad-Gita with the Commentary of Sankaracarya, Swami Gambhirananda, 2000
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Muktibodhananda, 1998
Asana, Pranayama, Mudra and Bandha, Saraswati Satyananda, 2003
Health, Healing, and Beyond: Yoga and the Living Tradition of T. Krishnamacharya, T. K. V. Desikachar, 2011
The Yoga of the Yogi: The Legacy of T. Krishnamacharya, Kausthub Desikachar, 2011
Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, 1996
The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, T. K. V. Desikachar, 1999
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into stillness, Erich Shiffman, 1997
Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, Gregor Maele, 2007
Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit: A Return to Wholeness, Donna Farhi, 2000
Pranayama & Breath:
The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-step Guide to Pranayama, Richard Rosen, 2002
The Breathing Book: Vitality and Good Health Through Essential Breath Work, Donna Farhi, 1996
Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing, B.K.S Iyengar, 1998
Illustrations from a manual of Hatha Yoga postures from the Punjab dated about 1830. Painted on thick card.
What Yoga Means to Me:
I love teaching people to breath fully, enabling them to experience the inner quietness and peace that resides within them, or to open their chest and submit in a supported backbend, enabling them to experience the amazing web of interconnections that support us in the moment without anxiety, thought or tension. In this way, yoga becomes a gift for anyone willing to discover and experience what lies beneath the surface, even if they were never looking for it in the first place. The greatest skill of yoga is then trying to extend the practice into our daily lives.
The Yoga Master Gurumayi Chidvilasananda wrote: you can cultivate anything you want in this body. You can let it go to waste, or you can use it as a vehicle that will carry you to God.
I read Gurumayi’s ‘God’ as a deep state of contentment, balance and joy, and as such, yoga is a tool that allows us to manipulate our awareness and refine our perception, setting us on a pathway towards our potential. When we practice with awareness we come into the body through movement and breath, and regardless of the original intention of our yoga practice, over time we build a deeper awareness of ourselves. When we breathe we tap into the universal energy of the world around us. We realise we are one with what is outside. Likewise, opening and strengthening our bodies we become stronger and more open in our minds too. Through our practice of meditation, breathing and asana, we learn how we are conditioned by our faculties of perception, which enables us to develop skills of conscious discrimination. This awareness creates an immediate sense of serenity and peace, as once we are able to sit with ourselves, without distaste, anxiety or frustration, we can be content.
Through yoga, our inner activity has an immediate effect on how we perceive ourselves in the world around us, and yoga therefore becomes a tool that reestablishes the mind body connection lost in contemporary life. As the body is a tool, we learn to value and look after it, which in turn not only affects our sense of self-respect and self-worth, but how we value the world around us.