A Yoga Teacher’s Essential Reading List for 2020

It’s a new year — and if you’re anything like me (i.e. a bit of a book-nerd), that means new books. 

In our last brilliant reading list for yoga teachers we included lots of texts to help you with your teaching practice and building your business. This time you can expect a few more reads to support you on your journey to building a sustainable and fulfilling career; and a bit more focus on the history and philosophy of yoga. 

They’ll deepen your knowledge and give you more ideas for really good yoga classes, workshops and retreats.

Yoga philosophy has lots of invaluable insight into how to live well in the world, as well as how to cultivate a steady practice of yoga and meditation. And in our current society, living well in the world does include the way we structure our businesses and make a living. 

They will settle themselves deep into your subconscious mind so that when you teach, you’ll effortlessly share the simple power of authentic yoga.

The books on this list will inspire you to get on the mat (or practice yoga out in the world). They’ll deepen your knowledge and give you more ideas for really good yoga classes, workshops and retreats. They will settle themselves deep into your subconscious mind so that when you teach, you’ll effortlessly share the simple power of authentic yoga. And they’ll open your eyes to the challenges we face as a community. 

If you want to learn more and stay curious about the intricacies and mysteries of yoga, this list is for you. 


The Original Body: Primal Movement for Yoga Teachers
By John Stirk

I read this book after attending a workshop with UK teacher John Stirk. Since that workshop, my practice has never been quite the same (in a good way), and this book is both beautiful to look at and lovely to read. 

Stirk talks in detail about the anatomy of our bodies, and how our movement evolves as we grow, in relationship to our experiences and interactions with the world around us. It’ll open you up to new perspectives in your personal practice and in your teaching. 


The Roots of Yoga
By James Mallinson and Mark Singleton

If you’re ready for an academic approach to yoga’s history and philosophy, you’ve found it. Actually, this book approaches complex ideas in a more readable way than most books of its kind. 

 Mark Singleton and James Mallinson are academics working at universities in the US and the UK, researching and teaching yoga history. It’s the most well-referenced, credible resource I’ve found on yoga, and marks a shift: yoga as a discipline is now being taken seriously in academia. It’s been deemed worthy of study. 

 It’ll give all yoga teachers a broader understanding of how our practices have developed. There’s a lot to be said for living in the present — but it’s good to know what’s led us to this point, too. 


Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses: a practical workbook for integrating themes, ideas and inspiration into your class
By Sage Rountree and Alexandra DeSiato

A brilliant read if your teaching is starting to feel a bit static, and you’re craving some guidance and inspiration to help you create classes with more depth. This book takes a straightforward approach to the challenges teachers face when they begin to weave themes and creative ideas into their classes. 

It’s full of easy to follow, practical guidance to get you started. Perfect for new teachers — but a good refresher for more experienced teachers as well. 


Practice and All is Coming: abuse, cult dynamics, and healing in yoga and beyond
By Matthew Remski

This book isn’t easy to read; but, in my opinion at least, it is important to read it. The number of cases of abuse that have come to light within the global yoga community over the last two years is astounding, and it’s time that all of us learn more about the power dynamics that influence the way successful, popular teachers are able to hurt students. 

If you’ve experienced abuse and trauma in your own life, take care with this one. If you choose to read it be prepared, and make sure there is someone you can talk to if you need support. 

But this book isn’t just about darkness. It’s about healing, and empowering each other, and how we can move forwards and build safety and care into our communities. 


Stop Missing Your Life: how to be deeply present in an un-present world
By Cory Muscara

The final book on this list is about a problem that most of us are facing every day. We’re distracted; by chaos, by our phones, by the news, by being endlessly busy and struggling to keep up with our to-do lists. 

Muscara’s book won’t fix your life, but it’ll give you a lot of insight into why we’re so deeply enclosed in walls built from pressure, expectation and stress. And it includes a four-part method — called the FACE model; Focus, Allow, Curiosity, Embodiment — to help take down those walls and experience life more fully. 

It’ll be good for you; and there are gems in there that you’ll definitely take into your classes. 

So, there it is —If you only have time to read five books this year, make it these ones! But I hope you have time to read more books. Like all the other years we’ve lived through so far, 2020 is set to be full of all of the things; joy and grief, challenge and achievement, and everything in between. But whatever happens, let’s make it the year we read more books. 

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Izzy Arcoleo
Izzy Arcoleo is a yoga teacher and writer based in London. She’s passionate about drawing together physical yoga practices with yoga philosophy and anthropological theory to create practices that are inspiring, supportive and fulfilling.

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