The Book Shelf
Before landing in my current grab-bag of a profession--yoga teacher/studio owner/writer/educator--I remember being in complete awe of how yoga teachers seemed to have such a fluid grasp of sanskrit, yogic philosophy, therapy styles, asana, anatomy, and most importantly for me at the time, poetry. There was this beautiful renaissance quality--a true embracing of many modalities and realms of creativity--that really spoke to me. And, where in the world did they find all of these poems? How did they know about Rumi and Hafiz? Who was this Mark Nepo?
The education I received, prior to my yogic education, was steeped in the romantics-- writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge and the two Shelley's. I wrote an 80 page, passionate thesis, on The Bronte sisters. I loved the ideas conjured by the word moor, the vast barren landscape, full of possibility yet empty at the same time--naturally inclined toward tragedy and redemption. There was a certain quality of mysticism, in these poems and books, that evoked the essence of the unknown, of mystery, of wonder that allowed room for the complex.
"I am going to unexplored regions, to “the land of mist and snow,” but I shall kill no albatross; therefore do not be alarmed for my safety or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the “Ancient Mariner.” You will smile at my allusion, but I will disclose a secret. I have often attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean to that production of the most imaginative of modern poets."
Mary Shelly: Frankenstein
As yoga became a larger part of my life, I continued to search for poems and essays that gave breath and life to this love of exploration--in both the inner and the outer world.
Being a yoga teacher and practitioner is not about being better than everyone else at yoga poses, it is about passionate learning. A refined development of your own learning processes, fueled by an interest in the experience of being human and all it entails--the mystery, the practical, the body, the mind, the spirit--and a willingness to engage with a steady practice of inward investigation that keeps the teachings rooted in authentic, human experience. And, to be honest, a little therapy never hurts either.
Books, one of the great loves on my life, have been an invaluable resource on this journey. I mark them up, write in the margins and really live with them, and as I always arrive to class with a stack in my arms, a few curious students asked if I would post a book list, so, here it goes, in no particular order. As, my teacher, Christina Sell says, "Take what you can leave the rest." And, please send me YOUR book suggestions in the comments. It takes a village.
Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar,
The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice by Georg Feuerstein
The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche
My Body Is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness by Christina Sell
A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield
The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life by Parker J. Palmer
The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo
The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers by Swami Satchidananda
The Yoga Sutras by Swami Satchidananda, Patañjali
Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study & Practice of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras by Jaganath Carrera
The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic by Ramesh Menon, Vālmīki
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
by Krista Tippett
Everything Is Waiting for You by David Whyte
A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
Felicity by Mary Oliver
Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse
by Mary Oliver
Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore
A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations by Hafez, Daniel Ladinsky
The Essential Rumi by Rumi, Coleman Barks
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow by Sanjay Patel