A good friend once gave me a pair of socks that said “F*c& off, I’m reading.” That is exactly how it feels when you find a good story to indulge in, or pick up a work of nonfiction that takes your comprehension to the next level. But after those juicy moments of narrative immersion (which research has shown can increase empathy, ease stress, and reduce cognitive decline as you age), you might find yourself wanting to process, digest, gain more perspective on what you’ve just read. That’s the beauty of a book club.
We scanned the yoga community for reading groups that will help you build bonds while challenging your intellect and expanding your mind. Bottom line: These three groups host conversations so compelling that you’ll be motivated to read more, even if you don’t identify as a bookworm. You may even be inspired to start your own local reading crew.
The faculty at the social change organization Off the Mat Into the World are global yoga teachers and prolific writers, crafting important volumes on topics from accessible meditation and movement to social justice and equity. The last title this book club discussed was Off the Mat co-founder Seane Corn’s Revolution of the Soul, about the art of transformation. Up next? We’re hoping for Accessible Yoga founder Jivana Heyman’s pending book about yoga and politics. Sign up for free on Facebook and join the conversation, including live Q&A sessions with authors.
Shut Up and Yoga, a digital yoga magazine and teacher collective, has a free monthly book club that includes written reviews and live discussions on yoga-centric titles. Past books have included Susanna Barkataki’s Embrace Yoga’s Roots, on the cultural appropriation of the practice, and James Nestor’s Breath, on respiratory science. Host and yoga teacher Ashley Josephine Zuberi brings a yogic approach to each conversation: “Reading a diverse array of perspectives and spending time in inquiry and honest dialogue is a natural extension of the yoga practice and an opportunity to refine and transform our beliefs over time,” she writes on the Shut Up and Yoga Book Club site.
Hosted by Kallie Schut, a yoga teacher and antiracist activist in the United Kingdom, the Radical Yogi Book Club facilitates donation-based online conversations every five to six weeks for “changemakers who are ready to listen, challenge, and heal,” according to the club’s site. Past titles have included Restorative Yoga for Ethnic & Race-Based Trauma by teacher Gail Parker, PhD; Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands, also about racial trauma; and Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala, a British rapper, journalist, and poet.
YJ Bonus: Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Philosophy 101
For a more in-depth look at classical yoga texts, try Yoga Journal‘s online classes, which will help you translate and apply ancient wisdom to everyday life. In our upcoming workshop, Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, Anusha Wijeyakumar walks you through four weeks of reading and discussion on this foundational tale of finding your dharma (sign up now; the course begins April 5). And in Yoga Philosophy 101, Judith Hanson Lasater and Lizzie Lasater offer six weeks of inspirational interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.