For the yearly 200 Hour Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training at the SKY we traditionally use 4 books. We would love to add more reading to the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Rishikesh but with only 200 hours we have to draw the line somewhere. We have selected these yoga books because they are classics and also because they provide a great overview of and insight into the true meaning of yoga.
We usually also have several copies of these books at our studio’s librairies for you to take home and read. We give you the links to purchase the books as well below if you would like to own any of them.
Here is a general outline of each of the books and then also a short summary of why we feel that it is important to include in a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Rishikesh.
1: BHAGAVAD GITA
The Bhagavad Gita is a seven-hundred-verse scripture from the sixth book of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Researchers believe it dates back to between the fifth and second centuries BCE*. Although the Gita’s author is unknown, it’s usually attributed to the Hindu sage Veda Vyasa. Vyasa also chronicled Mahabharata and is featured as an important character in the epic’s narrative. Also referred to as “Song of the Lord” in Sanskrit, the Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between the Pandava Prince Arjuna, one of King Pandu’s five sons, and his guide and chariot driver, Lord Krishna. Much of the narrative’s conflict involves Lord Krishna guiding Arjuna to fulfill his duty as a member of the Kshatriya warrior class.
The Bhagavad Gita synthesizes the concept of dharma, the work’s primary theme. It also explores heroism, liberation, and the practice of yoga in multiple forms. Considered one of the most significant works of Hindu literature, the Gita was first translated into English in 1875 and has since been the subject of countless translations and analyses. It is still widely studied and read today by Hindus around the world. it is also considered to have influenced the twentieth century’s Indian Independence Movement. Divided into eighteen chapters, each named after a form of yoga, the Bhagavad Gita chronicles Arjuna’s battles in the days leading up to the Kurukshetra War. During this time, Arjuna realizes that his enemies are the people closest to him. Only the advice of his guide, the God incarnate Lord Krishna, can help him achieve his destiny as a warrior and prince.
The Baghdad Gita is a must for every teacher training. It is the foundation of all that is yoga and provides an immense wealth of information and learning about the ancient practice of yoga. It provides a roadmap for the yoga practitioners path to enlightenment. During the 200 Hour Teacher Training Rishikesh we therefore will spend an important number of hours discussing the Bhagavad Gita and its meaning. These discussions are always very lively, sometimes heated, and always insightful and eye-opening. Teacher Training participants often also organise reading and discussion sessions outside of the normal yoga teacher training hours. That way they can spend more time with the text and absorb more of its wisdoms.
2: YOGA SUTRAS (BY PATANJALI)
The true meaning of Yoga is the union of body, mind, soul, and spirit. According to Yoga, we suffer because of not knowing our true Self and because of the illusion of separation of our individual consciousness from Universal Consciousness or Brahman. Yoga Sutras are a practical textbook to guide your spiritual journey of remembering. The Yoga Sutras are the most organised and complete theoretical and philosophical description of Raja Yoga set out in sayings or aphorisms. They are notable for systematically describing the eight “limbs” or steps that will quiet one’s mind and achieve kaivalya. The Yoga Sutras contain 196 Sutras, divided in four chapters. Patanjali explains what yoga is and how you can achieve its benefits. The first sutras cast a very wide net with general statements and Patanjali then drills down into each aspect with more and more precision. These affirmations help the yogi to understand and learn that your true Self lies hidden in the silence between your thoughts, beyond all limitations. However, the doubts, chaos, and confusion of your thoughts cause you to forget who you really are. To have a peaceful mind, you should:
- cultivate attitudes of friendliness without jealousy toward those who are joyful
- have compassion toward those who are unhappy and less fortunate
- delight in and support the acts of the virtuous
- and be impartial to and avoid the dramas of the impure.
THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA
The Yoga Sutras contain a set of observances and practices to guide your spiritual journey. These are known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
- Yama: Correct behavior toward others.
- Niyama: The principles by which you should live your own life
- Asana: The seat of consciousness; the yogi’s seat and postures to prepare the body.
- Pranayama: Expanding the life force through breathing exercises.
- Pratyahara: Turning the senses inward to explore the inner universe.
- Dharana: Effortless focused attention; training the mind to meditate.
- Dhyana: A continuous flow, meditation perfected.
- Samadhi: Lost or found in the Divine; unity.
The first four yamas prepare the body for the next three, which take you to the doorway of the eighth.
The sutras are equally important to the discovery and start of any yoga journey as the Bhagavad Gita. We like the below edition of the yoga sutras but there are many different translations available. Each translation also has its stronger and weaker points and it has been very useful in past yoga teacher trainings to compare translations. This provides an even deeper and more enriching discussion and experience. This is not a text to be read like a regular novel. During the yoga teacher trainings we therefore divide the text up into small bits and discuss individual subjects, learnings, lessons etc. We recommend reading one sutra at a time, take notes as you are reading about things that stand out, things you questions. Then think about what you have just read and written down and move on to the next sutras when you are sure to have understood the lesson or meaning. There is no rush to finish the entire book. Only to learn from the rich content and wise lessons for a happy and fulfilling life. The yoga sutras offer the path to true happiness.
YOUR BODY, YOUR YOGA
Your Body, Your Yoga goes beyond any prior yoga anatomy book available. It looks not only at the body’s unique anatomical structures and what this means to everyone’s individual range of motion. It also examines the physiological sources of restrictions to movement. The book has 2 volumes: Volume 1 raises a new mantra to be used in every yoga posture: What Stops Me? The answers presented run through a spectrum, beginning with a variety of tensile resistance to three kinds of compressive resistance. Examined is the nature of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, bones and our extracellular matrix and their contribution to mobility. The shape of these structures also defines our individual, ultimate range of movement, which means that not every body can do every yoga posture. The reader will also discover where his or her limits lie, which dictates which alignment cues will work best, and which ones should be abandoned. Volume 2 will take these principles and apply them to the lower body, examining the hip joint, the knee, ankle and foot. The authors then also present how your unique variations in these joints will show up in your yoga practice.
Anatomy is in constant development and this book Your Body, Your Yoga is at the forefront of modern yoga anatomy. This book is at the center of the teachings during every 200 Hour Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training. We are so so privileged and lucky to have one of the co-authors of this amazing anatomy reference (Dace Osleja) as the Anatomy Teacher for our teacher trainings. She is the authority on the subject in Belgium and also in wider Europe. One of our main mantras during the yoga teacher trainings is “teach the person, not the asana”. This basically means that we have to learn to adapt the asana to each individual student, not adapt the student to the asana. This turns the traditional view of alignment upside down and creates a more demanding role for the yoga teacher. Our training is thus uniquely set up to provide this training and insight.
AYURVEDA, THE SCIENCE OF SELF HEALING
One of the best comprehensive guides to Ayurveda, even though it is less than 200 pages. It includes a number of really useful charts and appendixes that are quick and easy references. This book functions also as a complete resource and it clearly explains the principles and practical applications of Ayurveda, the oldest healing system in the world. The beautifully illustrated text thoroughly explains history & philosophy, basic principles, diagnostic techniques, treatment, diet, medicinal usage of kitchen herbs & spices, first aid, food aid as well as food antidotes and much more.
Even though Ayurveda technically is not part of a normal yoga teacher training we feel that it is so interesting and important that we always include a session in our 200 hour yoga teacher training. An outside ayurveda expert will provide a 4 to 8 hours session explaining the principles of ayurveda and laying the foundation for the yoga teacher training students to continue their journey into ayurveda. The world of ayurveda is as vast as the world of yoga and therefore the introduction we provide during our teacher training is only a fascinating taste. Many alumni of our teacher trainings have therefore continued their education including learning more about ayurveda.
OTHER YOGA AND YOGA RELATED INTERESTING READS THAT WE RECOMMEND READING FOR TEACHER TRAININGS ARE:
- Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- Upanishad by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester
- Medicine for the Earth by Sandra Ingerman
- Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda
- Light on Yoga
- Yoga the Iyengar way
- Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
- Poser, my yoga life in 23 asanas
- Yoga body, the origins of modern posture practice
- Bountiful, beautiful, blissful
- Yoga, a yoga journal book
- Hell bent – Benjamin Lorr
- The goddess pose – Michelle Goldberg