How Yoga Works: The Reading List

As a follow up to my earlier post on how yoga helped me get through a tough life transition, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the books I read (and am currently reading).

Some of these came from friend suggestions, while others I found on my own or discovered through the time honored librarian past-time of actually reading the bibliography in other books. 🙂

[Links take you to my full review on]

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Brach’s background as a therapist and meditation teacher provide a strong backdrop for her theory of Radical Acceptance.  It’s hot, modern and distills all you need in order to start to deal with the bad stuff and let in more of the good stuff.  The guided meditations are great and I’ve since started downloading her podcasts through iTunes and giving them a listen while I clean on the weekends.

Favorite moments in the book:

“As we let go of our stories of what is wrong with us, we begin to touch what is actually happening with a clear and kind attention.” (30)

“The word resentment mean ‘to feel again.’ Each time we repeat to ourselves a story of how we’ve been wronged, we feel again in our body and mind the anger at being violated.” (247)

“Forgiveness is a product not of effort but of openness.” (261)

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

In this beautiful little book, Chödrön gently and gracefully guides the reader through the grieving process.  Tackling anger, loss, lonliness, resentment, fear and all the other emotions in between, Chödrön offers a road map to eqilibrium and peace.  I’m glad I gave this book a chance. Based on the cover  and author description I would have passed it by, judging it as “too spiritual”, but it turned out to be one of my favorite books and one I’ve recommended over and over again.

Favorite moments from the book:

“The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” (11)

“[Mindfulness is] … the practice of not immediately filling up space just because there’s a gap.” (43)

“[Compassion starts] with being willing to have a compassionate relationship with the parts of ourselves that we feel are not worthy of existing on the planet.” (109)

“When we wake up in the morning, we can dedicate our day to learning how to do this [to relax and lighten up.]” (163)

Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater

I’m about halfway through this book.  It’s slower going than the others and I feel the need to savor every work (it’s very dense).  While the other books were very internally focused, Lasater provides concrete ways to take the yoga teaching off the mat and into the real world and real life.  This will be a book I will go back to again and again.

Favorite moment from the book so far:

“Practice is discipline in action.” (13)

How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie Mcnally

If you’ve tried the read the Yoga Sutras and found them impossible to decipher, try this out.  It’s the sutras in narrative … and yet it’s so much more.  It follows the story of young yoga teacher Friday as she is imprisoned for stealing a precious book.  What transpires in the jail is the story of the yoga sutras.

Teasing out a handful of soundbytes from this book is like trying to pick out a single thread from a complex handmade rug — each sentence is so tightly woven in with all the others that it’s impossible to tease just a few out and have it make any sense.  Read it.  It’s life changing.


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