Ashtanga is a type of yoga that isn’t for the faint hearted, but it’s a style of yoga that comes with many benefits.
I for one fell in love with Ashtanga when I went to my first class. But with only enough time (and money) to attend one class a week I felt like I wasn’t able to delve into the discipline or progress as quickly as I would have liked.
Which is where Ashtanga yoga books come in – books on Ashtanga yoga are a great way to explore the foundations of Ashtanga, expand your knowledge of the practice and progress in your poses between classes.
I truly believe that there is so much to gain from reading yoga books as part of your home practice, and I hope to share my enthusiasm for doing so in this post with you.
So if you’re looking to learn more about Ashtanga yoga, start an Ashtanga practice, or advance an existing practice… you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve narrowed down the 10 best Ashtanga yoga books so you can expand your knowledge and work on this wonderful practice in the comfort of your own home!
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What is Ashtanga yoga?
Ashtanga asanas (or poses) are split into five different series, and a student has to “master” every pose in a series before they can move onto the next.
The ultimate purpose of this yoga style is to purify the mind and body. Throughout the practice, your body will build a lot of heat (a LOT), which you might hear referred to as tapas. This helps to expel old and unnecessary energies.
This isn’t a style of yoga that’s for everyone, and isn’t best suited to beginners, but many yogis love Ashtanga due to the self discipline that it brings to their practice.
I for one love seeing progress in asanas over time, and a consistent Ashtanga practice is a great way to measure this!
So if you’re someone, like me, who loves structure and discipline in their practice then Ashtanga might just be a type of yoga that you also fall in love with.
Why buy an Ashtanga yoga book?
As I touched on in the beginning of the post, oftentimes time and money means that we are only able to attend one or two yoga classes a week. Which typically isn’t enough to truly immerse yourself in a true yogic lifestyle.
And since Ashtanga is such a demanding and disciplined style of yoga, it’s definitely beneficial to have a home practice in-between classes. This allows you to keep making significant progress in your practice despite going to minimal classes.
But truthfully if you’re just starting out and learning the practice, it can be difficult to remember all of the asanas. Let alone the correct form for each one!
Ashtanga yoga books are a really helpful way to learn each pose and master your practice outside of yoga classes. They include helpful guides to each asana including cues for proper alignment and form.
Not only this, but they’re a great way to learn about the history and philosophy of Ashtanga yoga if this is something that interests you.
Furthermore, if you would just prefer to explore the Ashtanga practice in the comfort of your home full-stop, then Ashtanga yoga books make this possible.
The best Ashtanga yoga books
So I’m sure you can now agree that there is so much to gain from adding ashtanga yoga books to your bookshelf.
But now comes the task of finding the best ashtanga yoga books to buy. But thankfully, I’ve done that hard work for you!
So if you’re reading to explore more of this practice by reading books on Ashtanga yoga, these are some of the best ones to buy!
1. Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson
This Ashtanga book is, in my opinion, the ultimate Ashtanga guide. In fact, many yogis even refer to it as the “bible of Ashtanga yoga”!
It contains 650 photos and multiple variations of every asana in the Ashtanga primary and intermediate series. And although it is very comprehensive this shouldn’t scare you off, because it is accessible for all levels of experience.
2. Ashtanga Yoga: Practice & Philosophy by Gregor Maehle
This Ashtanga book is the perfect tool if you want to learn about the history of Ashtanga and the fundamentals of the practice such as breath, bandhas, drishti and asanas!
It contains a detailed breakdown of each of the poses, as well as a guide to the Yoga Sutras and yoga terminology. This is the perfect guide for both home practitioners and aspiring teachers.
3. The Power of Ashtanga Yoga: Developing a Practice That Will Bring You Strength, Flexibility and Inner Peace by Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is one of only fourteen people in the USA to receive certification to teach Ashtanga from its’ founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She is a popular teacher within the yoga community and this book is a favourite for learning the principles of Ashtanga!
Kino breaks down each pose into actionable steps, as well as the fundamental connection of breath, posture and gaze.
4. The Power of Ashtanga Yoga II: A Practice to Open Your Heart and Purify Your Body and Mind by Kino MacGregor
A follow up from the primary series, this Ashtanga book moves on to teaching the intermediate series of Ashtanga. Kino goes further in detail on the purification aspects of the practice and pranayama techniques.
But remember, this book is for advanced practitioners of Ashtanga and only for those who have completed the primary series.
5. Yoga Mala: The Original Teachings of Yoga Master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Written by the man who brought Ashtanga yoga to the west, Yoga Mala is an “authoritative guide” to Ashtanga. This Ashtanga book explains the ethical and philosophical principles underlying the practice, as well as guiding the reader through the primary series and the benefits of each asana.
This is a great book for beginners wanting to learn more about the practice from an authentic teacher!
6. Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive Step by Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga by John Scott
This step by step guide is helpful for anybody wanting to learn about correct form and alignment of the Ashtanga asanas. The author also provides information on breathwork and gaze, as well as transitions between each pose in the series.
Plus, the pictures and diagrams make this Ashtanga book easy to follow, even as a beginner!
7. Ashtanga Yoga: The Yoga Tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois by Petri Raisanen
This manual is a great beginner’s guide to the Ashtanga tradition – it is full of information about each asana in the primary series, along with philosophy and breathing techniques.
Accompanied by beautiful imagery, this is an easy to read and understand Ashtanga yoga book, which is great for all levels of expertise!
8. The Art of Vinyasa: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga by Richard Freeman
This Ashtanga yoga book takes the unique perspective of focusing on the meditative aspect of the practice, rather than just the physical form. The authors explain how Ashtanga can awaken both the mind and body.
9. Ashtanga Yoga: The Intermediate Series: Mythology, Anatomy, and Practice by Gregor Maehle
This is an Ashtanga book targeted at experienced yogis, providing you with information and insights to go deeper into your Ashtanga practice with the intermediate series.
Gregor Maehle goes into depth about how to use Indian mythology and cosmology in your practice, as well as the Sanskrit language. This book also explores yoga anatomy and how this affects poses in the intermediate series.
10. Ashtanga Yoga Practice Cards by Kino MacGregor
While not strictly a book, these Ashtanga yoga practice cards from Kino MacGregor are the perfect accompaniment to your home practice! Each card contains a visual demonstration of the asana, with instructions, drishti and the benefits of the pose.
This is a fun way to learn the Ashtanga postures and work at perfecting your form!
And that completes my list of the best Ashtanga yoga books to compliment your home practice!
My hope is that this list should give you a good place to start with your Ashtanga practice and expand on your knowledge of Ashtanga, whether you’re attending classes or not.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve bought any of the books on this list – drop me an email and let me know what your favourite Ashtanga yoga books are!
Enjoyed this post on Ashtanga yoga books? Check out some of these related posts:
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And don’t forget to pin this reading list for later!