I love yoga and I love books, so I’m very excited that some brilliant yogis have started an on-line reading group, Namaste Book Club. It’s a loosely structured club that will discuss books related to yoga via Ning social networking.

The first book up for discussion is TKV Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga ~ a very good choice! The book is Desikachar’s examination of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and it’s more than a translation with commentary. He looks at how the classical sutras can permeate every aspect of our yoga practice. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a number of years, but really haven’t sat down and read it from cover to cover. Now I have a reason to!

And I better get reading fast, because the discussion starts on Sunday, July 5 with a real-time chat between 5 pm and 10 pm CST. There is already a lot of activity in the forums, so I predict that we can expect some lively conversation (and hopefully some debates!). From what I’ve seen, the club “leaders” are doing a good job of providing structure and letting things be organic, and the participants are very enthusiastic.

This whole process has got me thinking about the role of books in my yoga practice (my entry to yoga practice came through writing and editing, of course), and I’ll post about that later. But here are my top 5 most influential yoga books (in my life, of course):

Kundalini Yoga for the West – Swami Sivananda Radha

Yoga and the Quest for True Self – Stephen Cope

How We Live Our Yoga – Valerie Jeremijenko, ed

Teaching Yoga – Donna Farhi

Between East and West – Luce Irigaray

And since no list of yoga books is complete without the two cornerstones of the literary tradition of the practice, I also love Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, and Chip Hartranft’s translation of The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Georg Feurstein’s Deeper Dimension of Yoga is an invaluable resource, and for any questions about asana, I turn to Iyengar’s Light on Yoga and H. David Coulter’s The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga.