I am wanting to educate myself on the history and practices of traditional yoga – I am not just interested in learning the postures. There is SO much information out there I would love recommendations on books, websites, organizations that can help get me started. I have no background in yoga, other than a few posture classes.
I am not currently interested in classes (I am shipping out for the National Guard for 6 months) just wanting a way to educate myself and learn some of the history to see if it is something I would like to persue in the future.
One of the best books that traces the roots of postural yoga as it is practiced today, and one I often recommend, is “Yoga Body” by Singleton. It is a bit academic (lots of footnotes), but thorough and very interesting.
There are quite a lot of books out there. Many come from a particular tradition, and so give you history and information, but coming from a particular perspective. You can learn a lot from reading them, but you always have to inform yourself first about the perspective, …. what the author’s training and philosophical interests were.
Yoga Journal put out a “Yoga Basics” book that gives a pretty decent overview.
If you want to go to primary texts “Autobiography of a Yogi” might be a good place to start. The author was a really important teacher,… one of the central figures to bring yoga to the west, and really a teacher in the philosophical or spiritual realm, rather than the strictly physical. You do have to remember that this is by him, and there are things that are not in the book. Light on Yoga by Iyangar is another classic by someone who became a very important teacher. Though, his teaching was more posture based.
And a piece of history you might want to read about is the world parliment of religions in 1893, and particularly about Swami Vivekananda. That was a seminal moment.
I also really love Krishnamurti (as opposed to Krishnamacharya… probably THE most important teacher of the late 19th and through the 20th century, but I do not recommend his prose, at least in the translation I have read) who though not a physical yogi, stands within that philosophical context.
This is all I can think of on the spur of the moment. I blog on yoga related matters, mostly with the idea of sharing with my students parts of the tradition it is hard to go into in depth in the course of a normal class. If you are interested, you can get to my blog by clicking on my IDEA page.
Good luck in your reading, and in your deployment,