Friday favorites: My favorite yoga books
Welcome back, Friday Favorites! I’ve been backsliding recently and haven’t posted any favs, but now we’re back up and running! For the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting some of my best-loved yoga books, the ones I turn to again and again.
One of my favorite books for learning about the yamas and niyamas is YogaLife: 10 Steps to Freedom by Johanna (Maheshvari) Mosca, Ph.D. I have used this book as a resource for over 10 years.
This spiral-bound book is a guide to understanding the yamas (restraints) and the niyamas (observances), which make up the moral codes of yoga. The Yamas are: Ahimsa (non-harming and gentleness); Satya (truthfulness); Asteya (non-stealing); Brahmacharya (moderation); and Aparigraha (non-attachment).
The Niyamas are: Saucha (purity); Santosha (contentment); Tapas (discipline); Svadhyaya (self-study); and Ishvara-Pranidhana (surrender to the Divine).
I was raised in the Protestant church, and I have always thought that the yamas and niyamas dovetailed beautifully with Christian teachings. Ahimsa is all about gentleness, compassion, non-harming, and unconditional love, which is what Jesus taught when he commanded us to love one another. Satya is about “Divine Oneness and Truth that holds everything together,” which makes me think of John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And the final niyama, Ishvara-Pranidhana, is about surrendering to the Divine, which can be interpreted as letting our will be God’s will.
What I like about this book is that it’s easy to use when I want to incorporate the yamas and niyamas into a yoga class. The author, Johanna Maheshvari Mosca, writes for each one a short poem and a brief description, as well as some words for personal reflection.
Poem for Satya (Truth):
May I be true to myself in every way
Be fully who I am and do what I say
May I speak my truth without any fear
And make it gentle enough for all to hear
She also includes affirmations and a guided meditation for each one. I have used the meditations often in my classes, usually reading them during Savasana (final relaxation). The affirmations are good ones to repeat silently during practice as a way of staying centered.
Affirmations for Aparigraha (non-attachment):
I let go of collecting possessions
I let go of clinging to people
I keep only what I need
I know the Universe always provides for me
I am contented with little, attached to nothing
My life is simple and streamlined
The book also contains discussion questions that are great for small groups and for journal writing. These questions help draw attention to ways we can practice the yamas and niyamas in our daily lives. But Maheshvari reminds us that this is a practice and not strict dogma–these are guiding principles meant to make our lives better, not to create guilt.
Journal writing for Brahmacharya (moderation):
Think of 3 ways you consciously practice moderation.
Think about areas of excess in your life that you would like to reduce.
What are your favorite yoga books? Leave me a note in the comments section.