Ah summer. Hopefully you find some time to relax with a cold drink in one hand and a book in the other—somewhere you can finally sink your teeth into a story without interruption.
I’m a moderator of the Yoga Folks group on the reading website Goodreads, so I regularly come across the latest yoga books. And as the author of my own summer yoga/mindfulness women’s novel, Warrior Won, I know how important it is that books we devote our time to make for compelling reads.
Fortunately for yoga lovers, some great new yoga books have come out in time for summer reading, offering insights on asanas, mindfulness, and taking your practice off the mat.
Here are some books worth packing on vacation or slipping out into your backyard lounge to read:
1. One Simple Thing by Eddie Stern
If you practice yoga you know it often makes us feel more productive, more caring, happier, and healthier. Longtime yogi Eddie Stern asks the question: How, exactly, does yoga do that? The first half of the book is a succinct summation of the various limbs of yoga. It’s in the second half that things really get interesting: Stern looks to neuroscience and other research to explain yoga’s myriad effects. For example, he describes how certain breathing practices, such as Ujjayi, arouses the body’s relaxing parasympathetic responses via the vagus nerve, and how chanting has been shown to stimulate both the left and right sides of the brain. The end of One Simple Thing includes a few suggested practices, such as resonant (even) breathwork, a body scan, and a loving-kindness mediation, which Stern reveals has been scientifically proven to boost positive emotions and social connections. And you just thought it felt good.
See also The Yoga Books Every Yogi Should Own
2. Life in the Flow by Kate Kendall
This Australian yoga superstar’s new book is part memoir, part advice for taking your yoga out into all parts of your life. Kendall is all about slowing down and savoring experiences, something that helped her when she first discovered yoga while suffering from depression. For each of the book’s four sections—Grounding, Joy Riding, Connection, and Devotion—Kendall offers tips for your own life. In Connection, for example, she riffs on lessening our over-reliance on our cell phones (“Guilty as charged,” she admits), which not only helps us boost our real-time relationships with others, it’s better for our posture and nervous system, too. She also offers several yoga sequences in each section. Poses are illustrated with beautiful photographs of Kendall practicing at the beach or in a forest, providing perfect inspiration to shift your own practice outdoors.
3. The Art of Mindful Reading: Embracing the Wisdom of Words by Ella Berthoud
Reading is an area especially ripe for mindfulness. This charming little book (it’s just over a hundred pages) declares that keeping your focus on a great book not only makes you happy, it trains your mind to avoid distraction. Audio books count too, Berthoud asserts, because listening to a book also requires focus. If you’ve never tried reading while in a yoga pose, seven are suggested, from the obvious Sphinx Pose to the more challenging Downward Dog. Mindfulness exercises are scattered throughout.
4. The Complete Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book by Katie Lynch
This yoga anatomy coloring book is great for improving your understanding of how yoga poses happen in the joints, muscles, and bones. Coloring helps you see what goes on inside as you stretch or twist, making it an effective way to learn yoga anatomy. It’s especially good for yoga teachers. “As you color, bringing your mind to your own body can help bring awareness and reinforce concepts. Try to feel and internalize the muscle or structure in your own body,” Lynch suggests. Plus, breaking out the crayons is just plain fun.