December 2022 - A Queer Dharma, Yoga and Meditations for Liberation by Jacoby Ballard. A brilliant inclusive book to help stir greater awareness of our positions and privileges in life on and off the yoga mat. Full of life stories, examples and practices to soak in and enjoy along with experiential sharing of teaching yoga within the Trans and Queer community. 'The practices offered by yoga are not politically neutral, and don't necessarily inevitably lead toward liberation. Like any tool, the potent practices can be used for harm or healing.' To the ongoing learning journey with an open heart and a heap of compassion.
November 2022 - Wintering by Katherine May. "Everyone body winters at one time or another; some winter over and over again." This book is a wonderful combination of personal story, learned wisdom and insight into caring for ourselves and embracing what we often see as the darker days of life. Brilliantly written and surprisingly uplifting, a great read at this time of year. Reminder also how yoga practices can support Wintering times. Take care.
October 2022 - Teaching Body Positive Yoga, a guide to inclusivity, language and props by Donna Noble. Having known Donna for a few years, this offering and sharing of Donna’s experiences and guidance to the yoga and wider community is a joy to behold. If you’re looking to better understand and inform yourself with topics like the history of Body positivity, the use and understanding of language on and off the mat then this is a great guide for you. Well researched and easy to digest. Highly recommend to those new onto the yoga path and also those more traversed as a way of bringing recent evolutions into the practices of yoga. Bravo Donna!
September 2022 - The Book of Dharma, make enlightened choices by Simon Haas. With autumn drawing near, this is a great time of year to read this wonderfully written book about living our life purpose. Easy to get into, peppered with personal stories and ancient wisdom alike. Another book you'll want to revisit for all its brilliant quotes to remember and recite.
August 2022 - Breath of Joy, Poems, prayers and prose by Danna Faulds. I've been sharing offerings written by Danna for several years as a yoga student and meditator she has a special way of 'getting it' - a feeling, an experience, a worry and sharing it in a way that opens you up to human nature, possibilities and feeling warmth towards yourself, your situation and others. That's what I find anyhow! Her books can be tricky to come by, I managed to buy this one online and it has many lovely offerings. I hope you come across her work too.
July 2022 - Stolen Focus - why you can't pay attention by Johann Hari. Another book I'm taking my time to read and enjoying it immensely. Sprinkled with interesting stories, author experiences, sharing of research and explanation of stuff that for me sits just beyond the conscious thoughts. Bringing the area of attention and focus as a think in to my more conscious mind is fascinating. It also helps to put into words some of the incredible benefits our ongoing yoga practices brings us in support of finding our way to focus. "..if they engage in deliberately slow practices, like yoga, or tai chi, or meditation, as discovered in a broad range of scientific studies, and he has shown they improve your ability to pay attention by a significant amount." ...So I challenge you can get this book and keep your attention to read it all the way through?! Keep me posted :)
June 2022 - The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk. I found this what I would describe as a dense read. Been meaning to get round to reading this for a few years. I'm glad I trusted my intuition on when and took my time travelling through it. Why bother? As a believer yoga can support trauma recovery this book deepened my understanding of trauma and the brain and left me feeling more informed. And there are also some useful references to yoga practices through the book too.
May 2022 - Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy by Mukunda Stiles. If it's been a while since you reacquainted yourself with the Ayurvedic aspects and interrelationship with yoga then this is a good straight talking and practical book to pick up. Steeped in information, diagrams, guidance and references back to Himalayan masters. I'd say its a serious book for those serious about their practices and deeper knowledge/insights.
April 2022 - Why Mindfulness is not enough, unlocking compassion with Equanimity by Dr Joey Weber. I love a book that asks you to dig deep about your thoughts on a wellbeing topic, especially if it's a topic close to your heart. This book does exactly that! It asks us to consider the relationship that equanimity has as the 'concept that truly binds mindfulness with compassion'. Lots of good practice examples and an interactive Equanimity Barriers Scale you can complete. Enjoyed this thought provoking read that has evolved out of his recent PhD thesis on equanimity.
March 2022 - Atomic Habits by James Clear. Got to admit as a person that practices yoga regularly (in many forms) and a former corporate Project Manager,I thought I was well aware of the use and benefit of habits. Well, since reading this book, I've found myself continuing to brew over the suggestions and things offered to support building better habits and avoiding unsavoury ones. A brilliant read with insights and definitely one to support us on the journey with yoga and life practices. One quick win from reading this: change the use of 'have to' in your vocabulary to 'get to'. Highly recommend!
February 2022 - Think like a Monk - train your mind for peace and purpose every day by Jay Shetty. I find in this book a wonderful mix of personal stories, guidance and insight into living well and supporting others. The format is friendly with a blend of highlighted boxes, hand drawn diagrams and chapters. It feels like a friendly handbook to keep referring back to. Also includes an interesting Vedic personality test!
January 2022 - Yoga and the Dark Night of the Soul by Simon Haas. I found this a mind blowingly brilliant read! A captivating mix of personal stories, teachings and explanations of and from the Bhagavad Gita and bringing the reader into continuous touch with the dark night of the soul experiences. Full of quotes you'll want to keep reaching out to open the book to remember them! Highly recommend to read & digest into your life.
December 2021 - 'Into Nature' by the Mindfulness Project. Revisiting the theme of less can be more. I found this book full of simple, easy, effective ideas to connect with nature and find mindfulness in a natural way. I especially loved the Nature Life lessons shared in the text and integrated them into recent yoga session themes. I love that ideas come from all places.
November 2021 - Inner Harmony by Jon Kolkin MD. This coffee-table style book is a joy to both read cover to cover soaking up the reflective writings alongside the deeply touching photographic imagery or just picking up and letting it open up at a calming, insightful photo transporting the viewer to the mystical yet down to earth East. With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, all royalties go to charities; the Queen Mother of Bhutan’s Tarayana Foundation and Emory University’s SEE Learning school program that teaches compassion to children worldwide. 'Soaring snow caps beckon. Wisdom & compassion flutter in the wind. Harmony is boundless.'
October 2021 - Trusting the Gold by Tara Brach. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness it's all connected. This latest offering from Tara, a former clinical psychologist and known globally for her meditation talks and practices offers insights into her life's learnings and wisdom. Easy to read and digest this book is told through short stories. I particularly loved this reminder, 'Our bodies live in the present moment, but our minds time travel. When body and mind are in the same place at the same time, we discover the creative presence that animates our Being.'
September 2021: untamed - stop pleasing start living by Glennon Doyle. We may already be familiar with the yoga Yama principle of Satya - speaking your truth and its to this I've chosen 'untamed' as this months recommendation. I find Glennon has a way of opening us up to our insides through what she shares. This book packs a powerful soulful punch, dive in and enjoy the journey. 'My goal is not to remain the same but to live in such a way that each day, year, moment, relationship, conversation, and crisis is the material I use to become a truer, more beautiful version of myself.'
August 2021: Ikigai the Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles. A flowing, practical and easy to digest read. This is another book that whilst it does not explicitly refer to yoga, yoga practices and useful references appear in all sorts of places! I particularly like the bit about rituals, 'Focus on enjoying your daily rituals, using them as tools to enter a state of flow. Don't worry about the outcome - it will come naturally. Happiness is in the doing, not the result.'
July 2021: The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn. This book does not talk explicitly of yoga and yet as you follow Ray through her stories, experiences and thoughts it's a journey of seeking understanding, acceptance, being kind to oneself, speaking the truth, finding contentment, living in the moment, physical and mental wellbeing of self and others and the ultimate circle of life. "Nothing can be measured in time, only change, and change is always within our grasp, always simply a matter of choice." A brilliant read, can you find aspects of your yoga and journey within these pages?
June 2021: How to Practice The way to a meaningful Life - His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It's quite often when you ask for a recommendation to read about Buddhism you're directed to one of the books by the Dalai Lama. I have collected a few and recently chose to re-read this one. It's well organised and presented in sections, much still washes over me but each time I read I find a few new things stay! His words on Gradual Change I really enjoyed, 'Neither a space station nor an enlightened mind can be realised in a day...However, unlike the space station, which is constructed by many people working together, the mind must be developed by you alone. There is no way for others to do the word and for you to reap the results.'
May 2021: Deeper Still – authentic embodiment for yoga teachers by John Stirk As a yoga teacher, tutor and student with a growing interest and curiosity in what is within us, through the lens of yoga and spiritual practices, this book has given me plenty to take on board and continue to ponder long after turning the pages. Through the book I had some strong pause and wow moments, such as the conscious realisation reading the section on ‘Minds’ that we can’t physically feel inside our brain or the thoughts in the same way we can typically feel and sense other parts of our bodies. It includes interesting explanations for words we frequently use like ‘understanding’. The book is well presented and with suggested activities in different shaded boxes, throughout the chapters encouraging useful practices between teachers and their students. One of my favourite golden nuggets of wise words from this book is, ‘We may cultivate a calm atmosphere but calmness can only be found by each person.’ Overall, there’s a depth to the offerings in this book that may need revisiting or to be absorbed bit by bit.
April 2021: Reflections on a mountain lake by Ani Tenzin Palmo. Continuing to be drawn towards reading buddhist texts, and this is one I picked up in India in 2019 and has sat patiently waiting to be read! I found this wonderfully accessible through its Q&A style with lots of one liners to keep close by, such as, "let's be kind to our mind. Let's work with the mind...Nobody ever sat down and immediately started to meditate, not even the Buddha...We all start out facing a wild, undisciplined mind."
March 2021: And now for the Good News...to the Future with Love by Ruby Wax. A great title for current times and this read was both insightful into mindfulness and sprinkled with Ruby's humour as well as informative in many diverse ways. Such as recommending a kids video game that is 'aimed at developing empathy and emotional intelligence'. (Crystals of Kaydor).
February 2021: Breathe and make time for yourself magazine by GMC publications. New year, and a new magazine I've come across and recommending this for Feb rather than the usual book. Curling up somewhere with a cuppa and this magazine has become my new 'me-time/down-time' moment. Insightful articles covering all things wellbeing and some lovely mindful quotes, nice use of imagery. One to check out.
January 2021: Breath by James Nestor. What better way to start the new year than with a focus on the marvel of breathing. This recently published book offers accessible, insightful information wrapped up in a personal story of exploration by the author. It guides us deeper in to understanding more about the breath, our own mouth, nose, face anatomy indications of how well we are able to breath and how to improve the quality of breathing. Highly recommend to give this a read.
December 2020: 99 things that bring me joy journal. I picked up this book during the summer with the thought it would be fun to work through and good as a reflective tool in light of the challenging year we are in. Several months on I've found I like to pick it up and open a page a random to fill in, to document things like, '#26 A familiar sight that makes you feel grounded' or #59 An aspect of nature that inspires you' and yes definitely on days when I feel I need to receive inspiration it can be nice to re-read about things that resonate with me. May we all be able to recognise and connect with things that bring us joy.
November 2020: (Tokme Zangpo's) The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva retold by Dr David Tuffley. So delighted to have had this book suggested to me, it's a brief, accessible and deeply thought provoking set of ways coming from the 14th Century on living the way of a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being). Also just a great set of suggestions on how to live your best life and certainly feels aligned to the Yoga Sutras. 'Water is not proud; it seeks the low places where it quietly nourishes all that is above it.'
October 2020: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A few people recommended this book and once I had managed to get over the size and intensity of its content and be taken on this insightful, soulful journey - I loved it! This is an epic read, requiring time and space in your life to pay attention to it. If women were a tree it would be like sawing through the trunk to read the inner circles of how women live, love and thrive. Chapter 9, Sealskin, soulskin I resonated with the most. Love to hear your thoughts on this.
September 2020: The Gita for children by Roopa Pai. Put on your inner-child reading goggles and get stuck into this riveting read! I enjoyed learning new things about this classic yoga story and found it so accessible. "If you've been paying attention, you would have noticed that the title of every chapter - in the original Sanskrit - as the word 'yoga' in it...Here's the real lowdown on the Y word." Grateful this version crossed my path thanks to kind donation from a yoga student. Thank you.
August 202o: The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. Occasionally a book comes your way that takes less than 30 minutes to read and will stay with you for a long, long time. This is one such book, less is more, with beautiful illustrations and well chosen words such as, '"Nothing beats kindness," said the horse. "It sits quietly beyond all things."' Pure yoga in action.
July 2020: Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi. What some may call a 'heavy' book this offering by Donna is a deep dive into yoga and its application to your life. Initially slightly resistant to the total focus and space this book demands, I soon found surprising and thought provoking challenges to my way of life and ongoing yogic path. I would like to hear from anyone that absorbs this book and emerges the other side untouched by it. Very glad to have had this book cross my path and one that I will keep referring back to!
June 2020: Kindfulness by Padraig O'Morain. Across the nation we adopted the theme of Kindness for Mental Health Awareness month this year and this book is the perfect example of what and why self compassion and mindfulness help bring kindness into our lives more fully. Full of Buddhist practices, life experiences and accessible this is a book to keep to hand on your shelf to return to often.
May 2020: Awakening the Spine by Vanda Scaravelli. I picked up this book having very high expectations about its content and was met with a special gift to the reader of sharing some of lifes' simple and wise truths, laid out in an easy to read and digest format. I found its depths in its simplicity with lovely reminders like, 'While practicising yoga do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose' which in turn helped me through viewing the asana section!
April 2020: The Book of Rest by James Reeves & Gabrielle Brown. In current times of high uncertainty and anxiety the idea and reality of good 'rest' are vital to our overall wellbeing. As a fan of James's Irest Yoga Nidra practices for a while now I'm really enjoying the journey he and Gabrielle take the reader on, it's: insightful, with gently thought provoking language and encouraging us ultimately to embrace rest. 'Rest is only truly restful if you recognise the significance of what lies behind the absence of everything.' See what I mean?! Please also check out the online live Yoga Nidra and Relaxation sessions we are cohosting on a Sunday evening together.
March 2020: The Business Casual Yogi by Vish Chatterji with Yogrishi Vishvketu. This book has much to offer all kinds of yogis working and living in modern times. Written by the executive that became a yogi with a yogi who became an international business owner. It takes our yoga practices off the mat and into our lives in many aspects including nutrition, understanding your life purpose with more clarity and more. It also reminds us that the guru within us is the highest teacher of all.
February 2020: Yogini: the power of women in yoga by Janice Gates. I found numerous gems of advice and great reminders about living your yoga practices through the changing journey in this book which brings together accounts of experienced female yogis. This in the introduction encapsulates the book for me, 'May you feel this wonderful circle of women inviting you to come home to your true nature and remember who you are: powerful, peaceful, joyful and free.'
January 2020: The Saffron Road by Christine Toomey. Often the path journeyed by yogis can join or meet the path of Buddhism and this book explores the authors curiosity in the path of women becoming nuns from East to West. Having personally had the good fortune to meet Buddhist nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and to have visited frequently Samyeling, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Europe, based in Scotland both of which are included in this book - it offers history and insight into Buddhism and its more recent history in our times, highly enjoyable.
December 2019: Yoga through the Year by Jilly Shipway. This comprehensive book inspires the reader and yogis to consider aspects of their yoga practices in relation to the seasons and the ebb and flow of our own and the earth's natural rhythms and cycles. It offers practical postures, meditations and questions to reflect on to accompany you through the year accommodating for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. A wise and friendly yoga companion in the form of a book!
November 2019: Mummy JoJo Uncut by JoJo Fraser. Reading this book is like having a good friend talk with you about 'stuff'. Things in life, life events and your mental health and wellbeing. Packed with top tips and poignant stories that somehow help lighten your own load and often evokes a chuckle or two. Easy to pick up and read.
October 2019: The Science of Yoga by William Broad. This I believe is a 'must read' for all yoga teachers and yogis it debunks a lot of common beliefs about yoga in modern times and offers a great wealth and source of reference about yoga in its many forms and practices. One of the those books you'll want to read more than just once - get yourself a copy!
September 2019: Set Free by Emma Slade (Pema Deki). Sharing our experiences with others can be empowering and it can help to light the way for those who are walking a similar path. This book just does that, a true story of a life-changing journey from banking to Buddhism in Bhutan.
August 2019: Mental Well-being and Mindfulness by Ryan Wheatcroft & Katie Woolley. A subject close to my heart and what better way to start sharing important life messages with young ones than through this well put together book including colourful pictures with great facial expressions as a tool for further discussion. And my kids were kept interested right to the end!
July 2019: Happy as Harry by Deana Luchia & Harry. This book is like yoga philosophy written from the viewpoint of a one-eyed rescue dog (with the help of his owner). A beautiful, light and simple reminder about the important things in life. 'We wish you could see yourself as we, your dogs, see you: the best, most loving person in the universe.' And not to be missed the 'Time for work and play' chapter written from an ex-sheep dog about looking after sheep. Live. Love. Bark.
June 2019: Talking Sense - Living with Sensory changes and Dementia by Agnes Houston with Julie Christie. This book recommendation blog is 4 years old and I hope it talks sense to you guiding you to some great insights through other peoples wisdom told in their books and stories. This week is Dementia Awareness week in Scotland and heralds the launch of this book brought together by Yogi and inspiration that is Agnes Houston MBE. It's a practical, valuable guide told from someone who is living with dementia. You can obtain a free download of the book at: https://www.hammond.com.au/about/news/talking-sense
May 2019: Permission to Shine by Bernadette Petrie. "Hold your beliefs loosely in your hands" this book is scattered with beautiful offerings like this one alongside insights into Bernie's life and learnings. Through her own story she takes you down a path to yourself. Thank you Bernie for releasing this into the world.
April 2019: Waking the Tiger - Healing Trauma by Peter A Levine with Ann Frederick. Just into chapter 2 of this book and already captivated by how the author is talking about trauma and how the connection between the. mind and body supports healing. Theres a chapter on First Aid for Trauma and a section titled: How can I tell if my child has been traumatised? The read continues...
March 2019: Everyday Happy - A journal for happiness by Emma O'Connor. Emma founded Happiness Now, an organisation aimed at supporting other families struggling with anxiety and depression. This 'work' book came about through Emma’s search to find a way to help her (then) 9 year old son overcome extreme feelings of anxiety. The more she researched, the more apparent it became that helping him focus on the positives to increase his general level of happiness was their answer. This book represents what Emma felt was missing in her search… A simple, empowering tool for doing… Not just just reading. For All people… For almost any age. "It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy."
February 2019: Sound Healing with Gongs by Sheila Whittaker. Although it's been long known about the healing power of sound and the amazing multi-tones, sounds and resonance you get from a gong, it feels like Gongs are beginning to gain more attention as a way to feel and heal. The author has decades of experience and wisdom which she shares in this book allowing us all to understand more about the many aspects of this awesome instrument!
January 2019: Yoga for Mental Health. Editors: Heather Mason and Kelly Birch. This book provides an invaluable source of reference on aspects relating to yoga and mental health and wellbeing. It contains diagrams, references and explanations by people who have dedicated much of their lives to these fields of interest. I'm sure this will become a 'must have' for yoga teachers far and wide. As a Signatory of the Scottish Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Wellbeing it is positive to see a comprehensive text on this important subject.
December 2018: ABC Mindful Me by Christiane Engel. A beautifully illustrated and easy to grasp book about simple ways to promote mindfulness aimed at children and equally a delight to grown ups. For example, 'Inspire: Get inspired by nature! Find some leaves, a stick, or two - You'll be surprised at what you can do!'
November 2018: Your body speaks your mind by Deb Shapiro. Yoga is often talked about as a way to connect your mind, body and spirit. This intriguing book takes it further it proposes our ailments and injuries can be linked to certain emotions and where our mind is at. It's an interesting read, can be a little blunt and direct at times but I find myself repeatedly drawn back to it and have found it helpful. I've found myself renewing it so many times from the library i've finally bought my own copy! See what you make of it.
October 2018: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation by Alistair Shearer. As yoga students we often taught, learn and build on the framework of Yoga through Patanjali's Yoga Sutras or 8 limb path. This small, concise and insightful translation of the sutras offers a useful reference guide and the Intro is as valuable as the sutras themselves. "Yoga Sutra 2: Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence."
September 2018: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. This is one of those gems of a brief but significant book where you can dip into it and find life guidance with depth. Gibran is considered to be the 3rd most widely read poet in history after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. From the chapter: Self Knowledge, 'Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather "I have found a truth". Say not, "I have found the path of my soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking on my path."
August 2018: How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach. Enjoy learning through this lovely, simple tale told by a gifted writer and Master of Buddhism. Includes some wonderful lines you'll want to keep with you. One of my favourites: When you are trying to concentrate on solving a problem at work you will find that the habit of focusing and fixing your mind during the [yoga] poses carries over to every part of your day, with wonderful results. Because people who can really focus are just better at whatever they do they succeed more, and they have more fun doing it.
July 2018: We are Buddhists by Philip Blake. When time can feel squeezed and you have a real urge to know more about something - finding a children's book about it can be a great way in. Typically, easy to read, offers the basic facts and presented in an easy to digest chunks of information. This book about Buddhism is a great example!
June 2018: How the hell did I get here? by Pamela Lynch. Yoga like life, can be a struggle, a journey, an opening into something new. It's not everyday you get to meet and know the author of a book. Pam came to one of our Scottish Wellbeing Retreats, travelling from Australia. Her story is one of change, tenacity and hope. And if you love mountains you'll enjoy the tale of her journey into the Himalaya.
May 2018: No Matter What by Debi Gliori. Often the best thoughts/advice come in simple phrases or words. Sometimes we find these in books for children. This is a wonderful example of this, for all ages. 'Small said, "But what about when we're dead and gone, would you love me then, does love go on?'...'Small, look at the stars - how they shine and glow, but some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies. Love, like starlight, never dies.'
April 2018: The Goddess Guide to Chakra Vitality by Anita Revel. Came across this bright, fun and informative book about our chakra energy centres. What I like about it is brings in other elements including gem stones, essential oils and goddesses in a really readable format. Very accessible book if you want to know more about chakras.
March 2018: Prana and Pranayama by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. They say it always come back to the breath with yoga. If you want to go deeper into the theory and power of the breath, this book is a great vehicle to help take you there. Covering in 3 parts; the theory of prana (life force), respiratory physiology and guidelines for practicing pranayama (working with breathing techniques). From the Bihar School of Yoga.
February 2018: Yoga body, anatomy, kinesiology and asana by Judith Hanson Lasater. Keen to refresh and build my knowledge and application of anatomy to yoga sessions, this book is leading the way in. My highlighter pens are getting a good workout! Informative and relevant.
January 2018: Kilted Yoga by Finlay Wilson. We've mostly all seen the kilted yoga video that went viral and I was curious to read more about his story. This book gives the reader a mix of insight into Finlay, Forrest based yoga practices, the great Scottish countryside and some amazing yoga postures bodies can move into.
December 2017: Mudras for modern life by Swami Saradananda. Mudras or hand gestures are said to tap into our nadi's, our lines of subtle energy that run through our body. Mudras can help enrich your yoga practice and overall wellbeing. This book is steeped in information presented with colour, diagrams and more. I love it! Mudras in this book are categorised by the 5 elements of Indian philosophy; fire, air, ether, earth and water mudras along with mind focussed mudras.
November 2017: Cave in the Snow by Vicki MacKenzie. I recently started re-reading this amazing story published in 1998 after talking to someone about a silent retreat. The story tells of a young English woman from London who went to India to become the 2nd Western nun in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo as she's now known is now over 70 and continues to inspire. This story recounts her 12 year silent meditation in a remote Himalayan cave and quest for enlightenment. Compelling reading!
October 2017: Heart Thoughts, A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay. The first book I reviewed back in June 2015 was by Louise Hay. I recently came across her beautifully illustrated more recent book which was brought about for "those times when you are 'in between' the old and the new, using the meditations and treatments on a daily basis until you build your confidence in your capability to make changes." Enjoy.
September 2017: The Bhagavad Gita. Often considered one of the 'source' books on Yoga. The yogic way told within a story on a battle field as part of a larger piece of literature, the Mahabharata. The Penguin edition includes great notes and translations of the messages within. Many people quote from the Gita, perhaps its your time to read the full version whether for the first time or revisiting its wisdom? "Devote yourself to the discipline of yoga, for yoga is skill in action."
August 2017: Fierce Medicine by Ana T. Forrest. Thought I'd read Ana's biography ahead of her visit to Dundee later this month to run some workshops. I've followed her yoga on and off for a long time. I'm about quarter the way through and I'm riveted by her frankness, her story, her yoga teachings. 'Certain Yoga poses help access, process, and release fear. Inversions - upside down poses, for example are particularly useful. When people get into a pose and tell me, "Im afraid of this", I say "Awesome. Now I get to work with you in a safe way." I call it fearasana.' It's a fierce read!
July 2017: 100 simple things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's & age-related memory loss by Jean Carper. The importance of mental health is frequently talked about. I was curious to see what this book would offer and am amazed by all the new information I've discovered like, "the state of your health in..your forties and fifties - appears to foreshadow the health of your brain in your seventies and eighties." And of course its great to read in several sections the positive impact yoga can have.
June 2017: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen & David Oliver. This dramatic and competing true life story originally published in 2006 has stayed with me through the years. It's a great demonstration of Karma Yoga - giving back, helping others without looking for anything in return. Despite several accusations in recent years of the events portrayed it remains an engaging read. It describes Mortenson's transition from a registered nurse and mountain-climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and elevating education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
May 2017: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Nidra, the state of dynamic sleep is a powerful technique in which you learn to relax consciously. It can feel unusual, deep and different. This book gives you deeper insight and knowledge into Yoga Nidra which may be of interest to read alongside your own experience of the practice during yoga classes/workshops.
April 2017: GUT by Guilia Enders. Yoga is about making connections and this book is all about insights, facts and making connections to what happens in our lives (physically, mentally & other) through our gut and our relationship with it. Just fascinating!
March 2017: Curvy Yoga. Love yourself & your body a little more each day by Anna Guest-Jelley. The start of this book says it all "This book is for anyone who ever had a negative thought about his or her body and wondered, even just for a second, if there could be another way." This book provides a lovely guided and motivational reference for people of all body shapes and sizes to find a way of practising yoga in a physical sense. Also includes helpful pictures and uplifting sayings.
February 2017: Mindfulness on the Go:Peace in your pocket by Padraig O'Morain. "Think of mindfulness as returning. It's as simple - and as difficult - as that. Mindfulness is about returning your attention again and again to whatever is going on for you right now.." A crisp, easy read with great ideas. Breathe in the pages of this book and breathe out a better way to be mindful. Check out the Point of Peace practice on page 47 too.
January 2017: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Sometimes you find meaningful insights that follow the yogic path in unexpected places. Published 20 years ago and yet timeless. "Mitch it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties. I had my time..and now is my time to be seventy-eight..the truth is part of me is every age...." A perfect read for bringing in the new year, freshen your perspective and honouring those that have passed on. This is a book to come back to and read again.
December 2016: Be True to Yourself. A Helen Exley Gift Book. This less than 2.5 inches high book sits underneath my MAC and when in need, offers up some wisdom to contemplate. Today it was opened at "Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision" Peter Drucker. This goes out to all the folks I know who continue to inspire me with their courageous decisions. Keep on making them!
November 2016: Oh the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss So, not your typical yoga book however it doesn't come much better than this. A wonderful lyrical tale taking you through the ups and downs, joys and sadness and ultimately the reality of a typical life path...your chosen profession, personal circumstances and your yoga. "Today is your day! Your [yoga] mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!"
September 2016: The Secret Messages Hidden in Words by Kim Ismet. A creative take on offering words of wisdom and encourages the reader to reflect on its meaning. Based around the 7 chakras/energy centres. For example I open a page at random, its in the Vishuddha (throat chakra) section and read: SING = S - soulfulness, I - inviting, N - natures, G - grace. Kim is also a fellow Akhanda Hatha yoga teacher. Book available from Amazon.
August 2016: The Four Noble Truths by Venerable Ajahn Sumedho (Amaravati Publications). Recommended read for anyone who is looking for a straightforward, concise read/ insight into some of the Buddhist principles. "Well-being is just knowing things as they are without feeling the necessity to pass judgement upon them." For an even lighter pictorial overview Buddhism for Sheep by Chris Riddell as featured in Oct 2015 worth a viewing too.
July 2016: Clarity and Calm - for busy people by Ajahn Succitto. (Amaravati Publications). I came across some wonderful Thai buddhist teachings whilst visiting the Amaravati Buddhist monastery in Hertfordshire, England this month. This particular one jumped out, very accessible in terms of its convenient size and bite size, to-the-point suggestions on how to be more present. "..when you're moving around.. experiment with keeping your visual focus relaxed and attuned within a sphere that extends 2 or 3 metres around you..this will enable you to stay present and balanced." They have available free of charge many teachings. To view more: www.forestsanghapublications.org
June 2016: The Lazy Guru's Guide to Life by Laurence Shorter. A book you can read in about 10-15 minutes & give yourself some useful reminders on living life well. Cool illustrations to go with it too. I came across this at my local library (Meadowbank, Polmont).
May 2016: Get some HEADspace 10 minutes can make all the difference by Andy Puddicombe. The reason I wanted to share this book as my recommendation is simple: from reading it over a few years ago 2 things still stick in my mind that helps me when i'm striving towards feeling calmer, in a more meditative mindset. I wonder what you will find in this short but informative read that may help you in achieving a calmer, more fulfilling life? 1) The notion that when you are aiming to be observant of your thoughts, stand back and liken your thoughts to a motoway with lots of traffic moving by, some a different speeds. Avoid chasing one of the cars (thoughts) and just stay on the hard shoulder car (or thought) watching. 2) The analogy of our states of mind or moods being like clouds and that however many greay or black, gloomy clouds are in our vision that beyond is always the constant bright shining sun. Remembering the sun is always there can help us work through the more challenging times when negativity can block our inner wellbeing. Andy P also has a popular mindfulness App and features on some Ted Talks.
April 2016: F**k it, the ultimate spiritual way by John C Parkin. It's taken me a few years since owning this book to feel the benefits of its words, but in a lot of ways it's refreshing & real. For example: (page 132) 'It's time to say f**k it to what people think of you. Approval is like anything else in this life: it can cause pain if it has a lot of meaning for you, if you're attached to it.'
March 2016: Love Your Life by Domonique Bertolucci. This is one of those easy to access and dip into type of books. It's recommended you let the book fall open and read the wisdom. Here's the one I just got, by way of an example: 'Make a Commitment' While there may be many things you need to do or achieve to make a dream for your future a reality, the only thing that really matters is that you commit to fully to making it a reality in your life. No other thought or action will ever be as important as this one. (Another great Xmas pressie thanks Jo Crosse for bringing this book into my life).
February 2016: The Ladybird book of MINDFULNESS. Unwrapping this book at Christmas (thanks Pam P!) took me back to childhood and my grandad Porter reading us many of these hardback A5 size Ladybird books. Funnily enough this concise book of tongue-in-cheek mindfulness quotes uses pictures from that library of fairytale stories. So here's a flavour of what it contains: "Alison has been staring at this beautiful tree for 5 hours. She was meant to be in the office. Tomorrow she will be fired. In this way, mindfulness will have solved her work-related stress."
January 2016: Any Mindfulness Art book /Winter Wonderland Patterns. This months book is a little bit different. Whilst I was deciding what book I wanted to read/share with you I was given very kindly by one of my yoga students (thanks Marie!) a colouring book. Seems to be a growing trend and it was my first time...buy hey open mind. These insights came as I was colouring in....realisation how much I do like stripes of different colours, that whilst there are many ways/strategies to colour in a 'shape' you kind of get to the same place/outcome so I stopped worrying about how I was doing it and that in my rush to get it finished I was maybe missing the point of enjoying the process...
December 2015: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book has been around since 2009, was a big seller in the US and I first read it in March 2011. It's a book where many aspects of it has stayed in my consciousness and that from time to time come to the fore - hence wanting to share with you all. Why this month? Well the book is the story of an American journalist who decides to act on her list of NY resolutions some for each month of a whole calendar year and the book tracks the outcomes, her learnings, insights etc. Being near to that time of NY resolutions perhaps this book may give you just the inspiration you are seeking and longevity to any changes you are thinking of making in the New Year... Here's a couple of lines from the intro..."All these thoughts flooded through my mind, and as I sat on that crowded bus, grasped two things: I wasn't as happy as I could be, and my life wasn't going to change unless I made it change. In that single moment, with that realisation, I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier..."
November 2015: The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown This month's recommendation comes as many of my yoga students are progressing their asana's/postures through their yoga practice with me and I acknowledge that curiosity often has us looking ahead to where postures are going in the physical sense i.e. how much deeper/further do they go. If you see/feel yourself like this then this book is a great, well presented, keeping it simple guide to yoga asanas/postures and with loads of visuals. Plus some useful brief descriptions on the yoga principles and different types of yoga practice. I come back to this useful guide again and again. Remember though however far into a posture you go it's about pushing your boundaries in order to reap the benefits by this I mean even a small step into the start of a deep posture can still have amazing effects if that's where your body is at today. Keep being curious about your journey whilst you take your yoga seriously and your self lightly. 'Yoga is the journey of self, through the self, to the self' From The Bhagavad Gita
October 2015: Buddhism for Sheep by Chris Riddell. If like me the principles of Buddhism attract you but you find it difficult to get more insight into how to embrace it more easily into your life, then try this book out. It's fun, simple and effective. It has me chuckling every time I pick it up and yet also left feeling a little better about what to get out of life..
September 2015: The 50 secrets of Self-Confidence by Richard Nugent. This months book share is about a book I've been delving into to support my preparation for giving an NLP based session on the topic of confidence to an Edinburgh Women's charity (Smart Works) who support women getting back into employment. It's full of insights, tips, common sense and a load of other stuff too on confidence. A useful reference book and reminder. A particular bit that I found interesting (page 152) is where it comments on when people are nervous or put on the spot there is often a physiological response to take a step back and look away. A good alternative response is to consciously when asked a tricky question in any situation (i.e. job interviews!) to make a subtle small movement forwards and if you are sitting down at a desk/table this can be as simple as leaning forward on your elbows and with your eye gaze rotate it in the triangle area between a persons eyes and their mouth. How does this topic link to yoga? Well I'd say that through a regular yoga practice you can help build your confidence for example in pushing through your boundaries in your yoga postures and breathing techniques and finding out more about how your body works and responds in certain postures. By persevering and mastering a tricky posture, you can then take your new found self awareness and confidence off the mat and expand that into every day life events (big, medium or small!).
"Self confidence is the best outfit. Rock it. Own it."
August 2015: The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive I love this book, I've had it for many years its full of interesting and amusing animal pictures, takes 5 mins to go through and can change/lighten your mood/day in an instant.The page/saying that always has me dwelling on (pic attached) is: Live every day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. A great reminder to be in and enjoy the moment
July 2015: Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford & Martina Selway - A toddlers first book of Yoga. My 2 little ones have really taken to this simple fun book of yoga poses which are represented by animals e.g. spread arms out like a butterfly. You may like to give this a go to help calm those sometimes hectic toddlers at night time!
June 2015: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Starting with this book that's been around for quite some time (c.1984) but a good one to re-review. Found it great for positive affirmations. Suggested approach - just let it fall open on a page and start reading some of it! in need for some life review.. you may find this book a good place to get you started...