Tuesday, December 28, 2010

8)Best Introductory books for Practising Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga

When I started on my Ashtanga Journey first in 2004 I had Pattabhi Joise book "Yoga Mala" but I found it difficult to use that book for my personal practice as the book had lots of instructions and only few pictures and moreover the instructions and pictures were in different places and I had to keep turning back and forth the pages to know which instruction is for which pose . Since I was fully immersed in the Sivananada System of Classical Hatha Yoga at that time I was not motivated much by Ashtanga Yoga and though "Yoga Mala "was rich in content but  the way in which the instructions and pictures were laid out put me off in seriously pursing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga . When I restarted my Ashtanga Vinyasa Journey in Mid 2010 ( I consider 2010 to be the real starting point of my Ashtanga Vinyasa Journey ) I was on lookout for a good Introductory Ashtanga Instruction Manual to follow and found the following 2 books to be very excellent books for any student beginning their Ashtanga Vinyasa Journey and the books are :
                                  1)Total Ashtanga by Tara Fraser
                                  2) Ashtanga Yoga the Practice Manual by David Swenson .

While David Swenson's Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual is quite popular and famous among the Ashtanga Community , Tara Fraser's book "Total Ashtanga" is not that much popular but it is equally an excellent book for beginners . This book by Tara Fraser was never in my list of Ashtanga Books as no one in the Ashtanga Community talked about it ( except for one serious Ashtanga blogger ) and every one were talking more about David Swenson's Ashtanga Practice Manual followed by John Scott's book on Ashtanga Yoga and Gregor Maehle's books on Ashtanga Primary and Secondary series . I came to know of Tara Fraser's book while I was on a Trip to Rishikesh in the end of Sept 2010 to learn formally Ashtanga Vinaysa Yoga under Louise Ellis . As I was going through a book shop in Rishikesh I was surprised to find this excellent introductory book on AsIhtanga Vinyasa Yoga by Tara Fraser and immediately bought it and since then have started using  it more often   as reference for my Ashtanga Vinyasa Practice . I  would say that John Scott and Gregor Maehle's books would suit more for a person who has had a quite an in depth practice  and for a beginner it is better they choose either Tara Fraser or David Swenson's book on Ashtanga Yoga .The reason why I am suggesting these 2 books are :
 1) They are like a ready reference manual with each page having a picture of the posture and its basic instructions .
2) Modifications are given for difficult postures .( While Hard Core Ashtangis refuse to use props , these books make use of basic props to attempt the difficult postures ) .
3) The layout of the book is that there is a perfect balance between pictures and instructions and makes it easy for a beginner to follow the instructions looking at the picture .
 4) The instructions are also quite simple and not too technical and easy to follow .
5) David Swenson's book covers both the primary as well as secondary sequence and if a person is keen on learning both these sequence it is better to get David Swenson's book . Tara Fraser's book covers only the primary sequence .
5) Both these books at the end give a complete Ashtanga Primary Sequence in Picture format .David Swenson's book also has the Secondary series sequence .So even if u do not have an Ashtanga Vinayas  Poster , this picture sequence can help guide you properly . In fact I keep Tara Fraser book by my side when I practice my Ashtanga sequence .
 6) Both these books give a short primary sequence and while  I have not tried them ,it would be very helpful for those who want to have a short primary practice .

So in  conclusion I would say that if you serious in learning both the primary and secondary ashtanga vinyasa sequence then it is better get David Swenson's book but if you are unsure about your own commitment to Ashtanga Vinaysa Practice then better get Tara Fraser's book as it is a simple one  and deals with just the  primary series .

Note : No book can substitute for the instructions received from a qualified real life  teacher but in the absence of a proper Ashtanga Teacher these 2 books are the best guides for you as a beginner to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga .


  1. Yes, these are good, I would definitelly add two more as a suggestion, one is "Ashtanga Yoga" both the primary and intermediate series books by Gregor Maehle, I wrote a review of the second one, but have read both and they are REALLY good, he goes over philosophy, practice, anatomy and the pictures are amazing. He also has warm ups and modifications, and the first book includes his interpretation of the Yoga Sutras.

    You may or may not agree with him on everything but he has studied the shastras... here is my review of the second one, hope you like them


    The other book is the one by John Scott, helped me in the beginning, when the MAehle books were not yet published :-)

  2. Claudia , I have also mentioned about John Scott and Gregor Maehle's books but as this post is about introductory books for a beginner to Ashtanga Vinyasa Practice I am recommending Tara Fraser and David Swenson's book . As regards John Scott and Gregor Maehle's books I feel they are more for the seasoned practitioner and in fact I bought Gregor Maehle's book after reading a review of the same in your blog .

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  4. I too write blogs, not specifically on yoga though. But I have a couple of blogs on my thought changing experience with spirituality through yoga. I have penned them down.

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