Suggestions below: People
often ask me for book suggestions related to Yoga meditation, so I've listed below some that I
personally know about and feel are useful. There are also links to some
authors whose work I find clear and authoritative, as well as several
search links by topic. I hope you find these recommendations useful.
Click on the links below or scroll down.
Books by Swami Rama
of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra: The tradition of the Himalayan
sages is a source out of which many spiritual practices have
emerged, and which have subsequently taken on individual
identities as spiritual paths. The teachings of Swami Rama are a
practical integration of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Advaita
Vedanta, and Samaya (purely internal) Tantra. These encompass
the teachings of the tradition of the
Himalayan sages. His presentation of these ancient teachings
is so straightforward as to be accessible to all people. (See
the article, Yoga, Vedanta,
clear, and deep: One thing that all of Swami Rama's books
have in common is that they focus on the practical, and at the
same time provide the depth of yogic theory. While I admit my
bias, since he is my teacher, I truly mean this, that his
presentation is practical and clear. It is common for someone to
start reading his books and then tell me, in their own surprise,
how extremely useful, understandable, and thorough they find his
study: There are many books by Swami Rama, and if you enjoy
the first few, you might eventually like to have a complete
library (if you find the first one or two useful).
However, there are three books that, together, form a complete
study, containing essentially all of the principles. I have used
these three books a great deal for teaching classes. They are:
Meditation and Its Practice
The Art of Joyful Living
Path of Fire and Light: Volume II
recommendations: If you are wondering where to start in all
of the Swami Rama books, getting copies of these three would be
a good choice:
Meditation and Its Practice (original ISBN 0893891304)
A solid foundation
for the practice of Yoga meditation. It is superb for the
beginner, including instructions on preparation, sitting
postures, breathing practices, and meditation itself. The
chapters on mind and the chapter introducing a program for
progress in Yoga meditation are profound, even for the more
experienced meditator, and yet practical in describing the
advanced stages of meditation. Unfortunately, this book has
been significantly altered in a posthumous revision. The
link here is to the original book, which can be purchased in
the used book market.
The Art of Joyful Living (original ISBN 0893891177)
The first time I saw this
book, I was put off by the title and a quick glance through
the pages. It looked like just another pop psychology book.
Wow, was I wrong. This book puts the wisdom of the ancient
sages in wonderfully usable language. Another thing nice
about this book is that the editor did a minimal amount of
editing. Most of the language is in its original form, as if
he is speaking to the reader, and speaks clearly of a voice
of direct experience. Unfortunately, this book has been
significantly altered in a posthumous revision. The link
here is to the original book, which can be purchased in the
used book market.
Path of Fire and Light: Volume
This book is
Volume 2 of the series. Volume 1 is great and has many
advanced practices. However, they are so difficult that he
wrote Volume 2, which is subtitled "A Practical Companion to
Volume 1." This book breaks down the path to enlightenment
in eight clearly described steps. It also has great
explanations of how to work with your mind, how to do
internal dialogue, and how to work with energy and chakras.
It gives detailed descriptions of Yoga Nidra, yogic sleep.
More Books by Swami Rama
Each of the
following will give added perspective on the teachings. Sometimes it
can seem that we need more and more new information when, in fact,
what we really need is to hear a similar message over and over, said
in different ways. The Swami Rama books below will give you that
Living With the Himalayan Masters
This is a great book for everybody. It has over 100
different stories about travels around India and encounters
with many sages. If there were ever a book to which
the word "inspiring" applies, this is it. I have met many
people who started their journey of Yoga meditation because
of reading this book.
Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita means "Song of the Lord" and is a very well
known text, actually part of an epic poem, in which Krishna
instructs Arjuna on the paths of Yoga. There are many
commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, each with its own focus. Swami
Rama writes in the Introduction that, "Profound
psychological insights are intertwined in the Bhagavad Gita
with the philosophical concepts, so the task undertaken here
is to separate the psychological principles and to explain
their practical application.... Without the help of
-- knowing, analyzing, and learning to use our inner
potentials -- we cannot fulfill the goal of
human life: Self-realization."
Enlightenment Without God (Mandukya...
The title can seem somewhat offensive. However, this is not
anti-God, but rather is emphasizing the need to do
self-enquiry to experience the Self. It is said that the
entire wisdom of the East is in the Vedas, that the
Upanishads is the distillation of that wisdom, and that of
the over 100 known Upanishads, the most profound is the
Mandukya Upanishad, the subject of this short book. The
topic is the mantra AUM, and is summarized in 12 verses.
Swami Rama's commentary is nothing short of awesome.
Individual sentences will call out to you as you repeatedly
refer back to this book over time. The text is out of print
and you may have to locate a used copy.
Lectures on Yoga
Describes the eight rungs of Classical Yoga, from the Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali. The eight rungs are thoroughly
described in separate chapters. Originally published
in India in the early 1960's, the book was later revised and
republished. The book has been posthumously revised once
again and re-titled
The Royal Path: Practical Lessons on Yoga.
A Call to Humanity
Subtitled "Revolutionary Thoughts on the Direction for
Spiritual and Social Reform in Our Time." Discussions on
spiritual practices in the context of our modern culture. An
inspiration on being in the world. The book has been
posthumously revised and given the new title of
Choosing a Path
A superb book for comparing and integrating the paths of
Yoga. Includes chapters on Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Laya,
and Kundalini Yoga. There is also a chapter on Preparation
for Choosing a Path, which serves as a clear foundation for
all of the paths.
Creative Use of Emotion
As the name implies, the book deals with the use of emotions
in the spiritual journey and in daily life. Many practical
insights. The book is co-authored with Swami Ajaya, an
More books by
Freedom from the Bondage of Karma
An excellent, short book that gives really succinct and
practical explanations of the process of forming and
Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama
A collection of published lectures transcripts and articles
spanning a decade, from the 1970's to the early 1980's. Some
really useful insights.
Life Here and Hereafter: Kathopanishad
Based on the Katha Upanishad, a story where the student
Natchiketas means Yama, who symbolizes the one who knows the
secret of life, death, and eternal being. Swami Rama
describes the key principles of Vedanta in this book.
Love and Family Life
A beautiful description of living spiritual life in the
midst of family life. Many couples have told me that they
find this book to be an important part of their planning
their family lives.
Poetry of Swami Rama from his private diaries, in which he
is writing of his love for the mother aspect of the
Universe, of God.
Path of Fire and Light: Advanced...
This is the original (Volume 1) Path of Fire and Light,
subtitled Advanced Practices of Yoga. It is an excellent
resource, describing many advanced breathing practices. The
chapters on the construction of the subtle body are very
Path of Fire and Light: Volume II
This book is Volume 2 of the series. Volume 1 is great and
has many advanced practices. However, they are so difficult
that he wrote Volume 2, which is subtitled "A Practical
Companion to Volume 1." This book breaks down the path to
enlightenment in eight clearly described steps. It also has
great explanations of how to work with your mind, how to do
internal dialogue, and how to work with energy and chakras.
It gives detailed descriptions of Yoga Nidra, yogic sleep.
A Practical Guide to Holistic Health
This edition is a posthumous revision of a beautiful text
that emphasizes the key of spiritual practices, particularly
Yoga meditation in the process of attaining physical,
mental, and spiritual health. It is really a very good book,
especially if one reads carefully and follows the
Science of Breath
By Swami Rama, Alan Hymes, and Rudolph Ballentine. A very
good book for understanding the mechanics of breath, and
gaining practical "how to" explanations.
Book of Wisdom
Subtitled Wisdom of the Ancient Sages. Commentary and
discussion of the Isha Upanishad, said to be the first of
the Upanishads that is normally taught. In this text, Swami
Rama comments on the Upanishad verse by verse, with
New Publications from India
Several other books by Swami Rama are available that have
been published through the Himalayan Institute Hospital
Trust in India. The link above is to the HIHT website page
on publication. The books include Sacred Journey, Sadhana,
Yoga the Sacred Science, and A Personal Philosophy of Life.
These are each superb books and would be worth the
difficulty in ordering (There is no "Add to Cart" style of
ordering available). The web page gives you instructions on
how to order and an email address to make contact.
(Be sure to see the
Yoga Sutras at SwamiJ.com)
In the tradition of the Himalayan sages, the Yoga Sutras is a
foundation for training the mind. Philosophically the tradition
follows Advaita Vedanta, the belief in one absolute Reality without
a second. In the practices, internal Tantra guides one to the
heights of direct experience. (See the article,
Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.)
copies: The Yoga Sutras can seem like an impossible study
because of not quite knowing how to open the door. There are many
commentaries, and we don't know which one to study. It is important
to understand that there is no such thing as the perfect Yoga Sutra
commentary. The key to learning is to have several, high quality
translations and commentaries, and then to have a strategy for how
to use them. Also, the tradition is actually an oral tradition, and
it is the oral teachings that ultimately bring life to the
teachings, along with practice of Yoga meditation.
If you are just beginning your study of the Yoga Sutras, I recommend
that you purchase one or both of the books by Swami Prabhavananda
and Swami Vivekananda. Also there is the bound version of my
translation, which is available through Lulu.com.
How to Know God : The Yoga Aphorisms of...,
Prabhavananda. This is one of the shortest, most easy to
read commentaries on the Yoga Sutras. From the perspective
of Swami Prabhavananda, knowing yourself at the deepest
level is the process of knowing God, hence the title.
Swami Vivekananda. The book is divided
into two parts. Part 1 gives excellent explanations of Yoga
philosophy and practice. Part 2 lists the Yoga Sutras. "Raja
Yoga" is another name for Yoga as described by Patanjali. It
means "Royal Yoga," as it contains the other Yogas.
Interpretive Translation, Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati.
This is an interpretive translation of the Yoga Sutra,
expanding the number of English words, so as to allow the
practical instructions to be clearer. For example, sutra 1.2
defines Yoga with some 25 English words, rather than only 4
Sanskrit words. The practices of the Yoga Sutras are
extremely practical, though it can seem quite complicated
when trying to sort through the language. By providing
expanded, interpretive translations, the practical meaning
of the suggestions more easily comes through. The individual
transliterated Sanskrit words also have a large number of
English translations, so as to give a more thorough
More Yoga Sutras Recommendations
Each of the Yoga
Sutras commentaries listed below adds depth to your understanding of
the Yoga Sutras. By using one of the first two (above) as a sort of
index, when you are looking at a specific Sutra, you can then open a
few of the following texts to expand your understanding of that
The point is that
you will want to have several different commentaries to which you
can refer. Go through the shorter texts, find a Sutra that intrigues
you in your current study time, and then look around in the other
commentaries relating to that Sutra. That, along with sincere
practice of Yoga meditation will bring insights.
are at this link:
Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali,
Swami Hariharananda Aranya (rendered into English by P.N.
Mukerji). This is possibly the most authoritative and authentic
English translation and commentary of the Yoga Sutras. If you
were to have only one commentary on the Yoga Sutras, this would
be a superb choice. It is thorough and speaks from the
perspective of one who is doing the practices, not just writing
a scholarly commentary. I do not know the exact dates of Swami
Hariharananda Aranya, but he must have left the body at least 50
years ago (someone has emailed that he thinks it is
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (hardback)
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (paperback)
Rama Prasada (with commentaries of Vyasa
and Vachaspati Misra). If there was competition with the text of
Swami Hariharananda Aranya for the overall most useful
commentary and translation of the Yoga Sutras, this would be it.
Vyasa and Vachaspati Misra are most respected commentators. This
text also contains the Sanskrit, including translations of the
individual words of the Sutras. I often find myself reaching for
this text when I want to get into the heart of individual words
Unadorned Thread of Yoga,
Salvatore Zambito. This is a compilation of 12 different
translations. It is a large format book with each sutra on the
left-hand page, including word for word translation along with
Devanagri and transliterated Sanskrit. On the right-hand page
are the 12 translations. The translations are from Pandit
Usharbudh Arya, Alice Bailey, Manilal Nabhubai Dvivedi, Georg
Feuerstein, Vyaas Houston, Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, Swami
Prabhavananda, Swami Purohit, Swami Satchidananda, Alistair
Shearer, I. K. Taimini, and Swami Vivekananda.
The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali : A New...,
Feuerstein. Excellent writing from the perspective of a Western
yogi and scholar. He has gone to great length to make the
individual Sanskrit words and phrases accessible. Highly
recommended as a companion text to all of those above.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,
Swami Satchitananda. Simple, straightforward explanations.
This is a commentary you will want to have with you when you
want to remember that this is really not so complicated. Swami
Satchitananda founded Yogaville in Virginia, USA.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,
Usharbudh Arya (Now Swami Veda). In this scholarly
commentary some 12 commentaries from different authors are
compared and contrasted. The text deals only with the chapter
one of the four chapters of the Yoga Sutras, but it will give
you an idea of how minutely the scholars can review the
Sanskrit, and how diverse are their scholarly opinions.
In the tradition of the Himalayan
sages, the Yoga Sutras is a foundation for training the mind.
Philosophically the tradition follows Advaita Vedanta, the belief in
one absolute Reality without a second. In the practices, internal
Tantra guides one to the heights of direct experience.
As noted above
in the Yoga Sutras section, the tradition of the Himalayan sages
philosophically practices Advaita Vedanta, the belief in one
absolute Reality without a second. The books listed below will
give you a foothold in these philosophies, and will allow you to
see if these philosophies and practices appeal to you.
Advaita Vedanta : A Philosophical...,
Eliot Deutsch. A relatively short book that does an
excellent job of describing the theory of Advaita (non-dual)
Vedanta. It explains Vedanta concepts directly, rather than
following along the verses of some ancient text, as is often
More books on
Shankara's Crest Jewel of Discrimination,
Swami Prabhavananda (translator). Adi
Shankaracharya of the 12th century wrote a great deal about
Vedanta, some of which can be difficult reading. The Crest
Jewel of Discrimination (Vivekachudamini) describes the
philosophy and practice of Vedanta through the story of a
teacher teaching his student, and is in very accessible
language. This translation is in easy to read language. You
may read it at a surface level and enjoy it, and also find
profoundly deep wisdom here. Highly recommended.
More books by
The Upanishads : Breath of the Eternal,
Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester
(translators). It is said that the wisdom of the East is
contained in the Vedas, and that if you squeeze out the
juice of wisdom from the Vedas, this is contained in the
Upanishads. This translation is in very easy to read,
straightforward language. It has no commentary, so the book
is short. It does not cover all of the major Upanishads, but
it will give you a very good introduction.
More books on the
Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness ,
David Frawley. This book is very practical and "down to earth".
Dr. Frawley does a superb job of explaining meditation in
Vedanta and Yoga in a traditional way that speaks to us as
modern, English speaking readers. I highly recommend it, along
with the three books just above.
Introduction to Tantra Sastra, Sir
John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon). A modern classic and thorough
description of the practice of Tantra. This book is of the
"required reading" category for one who is serious about
authentic Tantra. (Currently out of print, so you'll need to buy
a used copy.)
Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, David Frawley. Superb
overview of that many approaches to Tantra. Highly recommended.
Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, Georg
Feuerstein. Excellent overviews of authentic schools of Tantra.
If you were to buy only one book on Tantra by a current author,
this would be the one. 157062304X
Auspicious Wisdom, Douglas Renfrew
Brooks. Excellent text on Sri Vidya, said to be the highest of
Shakti Sadhana: Steps to Samadhi,
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. Introduction by Swami Rama.
Inspiring and practical translation of the ancient text, Tripura
Rahasya, on the esoteric aspects of Tantra. 0893891401
Autobiography of a Yogi,
Paramahansa Yogananda. Paramahansa Yogananda has had a major
impact on YogaVedanta in the West, and founded the
Self-Realization Fellowship. He passed in 1952. This book is a
superb story about his many experiences and encounters with
other yogis as well. Very inspiring and, like Living with the
Himalayan Masters, has been a starting point for many modern
seekers. It's sort of essential reading on the path of Yoga
meditation. When first meeting a person with interest in Yoga,
one of the first, and most common questions is, "Have you read
Autobiography of a Yogi?"
More books by
No Boundary : Eastern and Western...,
Ken Wilber. A very solid primer on integrating spiritual
traditions with psychology, from the perspective of the levels
of consciousness. Highly recommended. Ken Wilber is one of the
leading voices today.
More books by
Play of Consciousness : A Spiritual...,
Swami Muktananda. Gives a detailed account of his inner
journey through the levels of consciousness. I know of no book
that compares with his descriptions. While we each might
experience the individual layers of consciousness somewhat
differently from one another, his descriptions will give you a
clear idea of where you are going.
More books by
The Yoga Tradition: History, Religion,...,
Georg Feuerstein. For those who want a
thorough review of the roots of authentic Yoga traditions, this
book is second to none.
More books by
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami
Muktibodhananda Saraswati (translation and commentary). The
Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a classic text by Swatmarama, outlining
authentic Hatha Yoga as the spiritual discipline that Hatha Yoga
is meant to be. This translation is a well known version, and
important to have in your library if you practice Hatha Yoga.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Brian
Dana Akers (translator). While it is lacking in commentary or
discussion, the fact that it is only 128 pages suggests that it
might be a useful companion to the 642 page translation and
commentary of Swami Muktibodhananda (above).
Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, Pandit
Usharbudh Arya. Written by a brilliant scholar, this book gives
great guidance about how the underlying principles of Hatha Yoga
integrate with the greater whole of Yoga science, specifically
that of Raja Yoga.
Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, H. David
Coulter. Few words are needed to describe this book as the most
authoritative, as it stands alone in describing the relationship
between Hatha Yoga and physiology. It is essential for any
serious student of Hatha Yoga. The author further describes the
book on his
the results of searches for several topics that may be of
interest. These searches will bring you to many titles.
links to books by several authors whose work I respect. There
are many titles here, and I have not read them all. However, the
writings of these authors are generally quite useful and
A widely recognized scholar and author in Yoga science and
philosophy. He lives in California, where he founded the Yoga
Research and Education Center.
David Frawley: One of
the most respected Western scholars in the fields of Yoga and
Vedanta, as well as Ayurveda. His center is in New Mexico.
Swami Ajaya: A student
of Swami Rama and clinical psychologist. Has co-authored a few
books, and has written a couple very good books integrating
Eastern wisdom and modern psychology. These are out of print,
but are well worth locating.
From the lineage of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Founded
the Vedanta Society of Southern California. Taught in US from
1923 until passing in 1976. His English translations and
writings are excellent and easy to read.
Swami Rama: With my
admitted bias towards my own teacher, Swami Rama has presented
the wisdom of the ancient sages of the Himalayas in extremely
simple language, so that all can benefit, and yet has done so
without compromising depth and quality.
Swami Vivekananda: The
first of the Swamis to go to America, arriving in 1893, and
leaving the body in 1902. A student of Ramakrishna, and founder
of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. His works are very useful and
accessible to the modern English reader.
Ken Wilber: One of the
most wise and prolific authors of our time in the area of
integrating Eastern wisdom and Western psychology, in the
emerging field of Transpersonal Psycholgoy.
How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Very useful
book that might be inspiring to many people who are venturing
into the path of Yoga and spirituality and are feeling out of
alignment with the majority of the culture around you. While
this book on cultural change is written in the context of the
American culture, it also relates to most people in the world
who are seeking personal and worldly change.
This site is devoted to
presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of
the Tradition of the Himalayan masters
in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising
quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the
intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the