4 Must-Read Books for Yoga People

My 100% Biased Recommendations Plus Tips for Becoming a Better Reader

I typically read about 70 books per year. Most books I read have just a few ideas, but a few books have a ton of ideas that I come back to again and again. Below are four books that are worth sinking your teeth into right now.

Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate
Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing
Athletic Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett

This is an excellent book for people who are looking for a guide to maintaining or improving mobility. It breaks down the human body into functional areas and explains how they interact with each other.

Faster, Higher, Stronger: The New Science of Creating
Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them by Mark

If you’re interested in physical development, mental attitude, and the ways in which physical efforts affect the mind, breathing practices, and meditative states, this is for you.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes

This takes on the problem with many fad diets so you can find those “aha!” moments of why we get fat… and then teaches you what to do about your health.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal
Performance by Josh Waitzkin

I was intrigued by Josh Waitzkin's experiences as a Chess prodigy and Tai Chi champion and enjoyed reading about the struggle, inspiration, and teaching methods he details in his book.

I love these books. But if I’m being honest, I’m a terrible reader.

I’ve had so much trouble focusing on written words on a printed page that up until my late 20s, I struggled to read much of anything at all. Completing a book was a monumental chore for me, and as you can imagine, this impacted nearly every aspect of my life.

For me, things really shifted with short-form online media, digital books (Kindle), and the proliferation of audiobooks.

I’m not a visual learner, so words on a page are not interesting to me. But audio? I can listen for hours, and I typically do. I average about 2 hours per day of audio learning, and most of that comes from audiobooks. For the past 8 years, I’ve read (or listened to) anywhere from 50 to 100 books a year, averaging around 70 per year.

I now love reading and have access to some of the best thinking in the world.

I apologize if the discovery of books sounds a little sophomoric, but considering the statistics that most adults read just one book (in their life) after finishing their formal studies, I’m guessing I’m not alone in this problem. Perhaps you can relate?

Quick tips that turned me into a bookworm.

#1. Books are not sacred (except the ones that are).

Books are just a delivery system for ideas, so no need to treat them like a collector’s item. With printed books, I scribble all over them, stuff them into my pocket, tear out pages, scan them – anything to make it easier and faster for me to absorb the info.

#2. Most books have 1-2 chapters that are amazing, and the rest is filler.

Your average non-fiction book is around 60K words. Publishers demand this so authors fill those pages. With that in mind, if your gut tells you the author is just filling space, you’re probably right. Stop reading.

#3. You don’t have to finish any book, ever.

Many of us have this idea that if we don’t finish the book, we have someone failed the author or ourselves. This is not true. If you read a chapter and get a great idea – but then lose interest – don’t give it a second thought. Drop the book and move on.

#4. Read as many books at a time as you like.

I used to force myself to read one book at a time. Some books are just too dense or too intense to read one at a time. Go nuts, read 10 at a time. If one gets boring, drop it and try the other. Maybe you’ll come back to it, maybe you won’t. It’s all good.

#5. Try different formats. Printed paperback books are my least favorite.

I love Kindle books for health and wellness, and I love hardcover books for yoga and fitness. Audiobooks are my default favorite for non-fiction, but they are impossible for me for fiction. Again, remember that books are just a delivery system for ideas. Try out different formats until you find the one that works for you.

#6. There are some really bad books out there, and some of them are incredibly popular.

Again, books are not sacred (unless they are). Some are really bad. Like Hollywood movies, many of the bestseller books are just rubbish. Most book buyers never even read the books they purchase, so it’s a game of telephone where books are recommended like crazy, but people mostly just read the front and back covers.

They say that writing is the “doing” part of thinking, and I believe that reading is the “digestion” of years (and even lifetimes) of experiences and studies. It’s an amazing time we live in where you can get just about anything for less than the cost of lunch on your phone within seconds.

SIDE NOTE: Two of these books are part of the Yoga Teachers College curriculum.

Q: What's your favorite yoga-related read? Let us know in the comments!