Reading is a hobby I’ve been entertained by since childhood but it wasn’t until I became a student of yoga in my early twenties, that I took great interest in learning more about myself and life through personal development books. When I became a teacher at 28, I started to merge my love of reading into the yoga classes I was leading calling the experience “A Book Club on the Yoga Mat.”
Discover on this list as I have, great new reads that will enhance your life, including books that expand self-awareness, navigate life purpose, help your relationships, release past pain, and more.
Now, where I’ve read many books, not all are on this Book Club list as I would never suggest a book I didn’t get much out of to you.
I hope you benefit from my recommendations. Happy readings XO
“We grow not older by the years, but newer every day.” – Emily Dickinson
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
We practice yoga to communicate and connect to our authentic selves.
This poem reminds me of the importance of why we need space to reveal ourselves to ourselves without judgment and how every step forward on the mat is an opportunity to do just that.
The iRest Program for Healing PTSD
by Richard C. Miller, PHD
This has been another great book to thread into the trauma-informed yoga classes I teach as well as to the general public.
I’ll give you a heads up and tell you that the author pitches the iRest program throughout but I believe he does this to reinstate that if you follow x, y, and z then it will help you in your healing. It was over it at times, however, it didn’t take away from the nuggets of insight I gathered and shared with my communities.
Learn about the “10 tools for life” that include Practicing Breathsensing, Welcoming Opposites of Feeling, Emotion, and Thoughts. and read/record your voice with the guided Yoga Nidras. This book seeks to help you in health and well-being.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
by John M. Gottman, PH.D. and Nan Silver
My partner and my parents divorced when we were both 7. Neither of us has been in many relationships or had great examples of what one was supposed to look like except for what we saw in the movies or on TV.
Now that we’re engaged, I want to invest some time into learning about what I can do, we can do, to understand, communicate, and love each other to have a long-lasting union.
There are quizzes we’ve taken together, others on my own, prompts for conversation, and examples from couples to learn why some relationships work while others lead to divorce.
I’ll be honest, I have some room to grow as it relates to my approach and bad moods, but what this book has shown me, is that we are normal, and are doing actually really well. For some reason, I needed to read it, talk to him about it, and normalize some things.
Hope: How Yoga Heals the Scars of Trauma
by Helen Cushing
I’ve been referencing this book in my trauma-informed and general yoga classes.
Heavily focused on veterans with PTSD, and the ways that the yoga practice has helped them heal their scars from trauma, this book can still be understood and applied to all of us looking to understand how yoga can aid the pathway towards relaxation and mind management.
Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
I can’t continuously read personal development books and work on myself, I crave fictional reads where an author has my respect with their use of words, descriptions, and storyline, and Delia Owens did all that. Delia’s career prior to writing this book has been as a wildlife scientist and her incredible detail of nature is captured in the pages as she moves us through the life of her character Kya living on the marsh in North Carolina.
A murder mystery, I’m keeping this one on my shelf to read one day again.
by Lindo Bacon, Ph.D. and Lucy Aphramor
My gymnastics teacher told me my thighs touched, so I wouldn’t be able to do bars. My best friend’s mom called me “Hefer,” and constantly tried to put me on a diet.
My relationship and the image I have of my body has been a constant battle and a war that I’m ready to throw the white surrender flag to as it is one of my greatest fears that I’ll be in my last moments of life and wish I had.
Celebrating size diversity, helping you understand weight, and finding peace and health in your body, this book has been immensely helpful.
The Joy Within– A beginner’s guide to meditation
by Joan Goldstein & Manuela Soares
A retreat from the chaos of the world.
An uncomplicated read this Book Club suggestion is one of the top books that people get after hearing about it in my classes.
The Joy Within intertwines creativity into its short and powerful chapters on meditation featuring stories, practices for inward and outward focus, and a four-week meditation program in the back of the book.
A favorite ‘Book Club on the Yoga Mat’ read, you won’t merely be counting your breath, the authors present visualizations that help you access a point of stillness in your mind and what a gift to yourself that would be!
Journey to the Heart
by Melody Beattie
My over-loved, weathered book is a treasured Book Club favorite.
A 365-day read, you are bound to resonate with any passage.
Though you’ll read a short paragraph, it will establish the tone for your entire day as she invites you to: Keep your Heart Open, Let Go of the Blocks, Take Better Care of Yourself, Don’t Hurry, Value Your Passion, etc.
Get it for yourself or offer it as the perfect present, this read is a highly suggested book to keep for your lifetime.
Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This fictional story is an interview of the 1970’s band Daisy Jones and the Six over the course of eight years. Step into the lives of these rock stars that will make you hopefully like me, excited that they are making a movie so that we can listen to the poetry of their songs.
A light-hearted pleasure, that was fun to read.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
by Dan Millman
“Way of the Peaceful Warrior is based on the story of Dan Millman, a world champion athlete, who journeys into realms of romance and magic, light and darkness, body, mind, and spirit.” -Goodreads
Different than the typical personal development book, this book club suggestion is an enchanting read in part-autobiographical, part-fiction.
The unique intertwining of his story, philosophy, and wisdom is sure to make an impression on you and do as the cover reads “change your life.”
Other Suggestions: The Journeys of Socrates, and Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior
The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice
by Deborah Adele
This Book Club suggestion is my book I’d take with me on a deserted island.
People often say, “Heather, I love your yoga classes and what you share, but how do I apply the practice into my life?” This is how.
Never does picking up this book get old.
The special, relatable delivery on the yamas and niyamas that includes non-violence, purity, and contentment makes Adele’s book incredibly impactful on your deepest self.
Understandable and with questions at the end of each chapter for self-reflection, this small book is absolutely worth getting and will help you on so many levels.
Erin Hanson, e.h., poet
I discovered e.h. poetry in San Diego, CA, at a Farmer’s market. A woman had inscribed her words on different forms of medium, and immediately my heart was seized.
This young Aussie with remarkable depth is the predominant poet I reference in my yoga classes because her writing beautifully supplements the theme and intention of what I am sharing.
My favorites are: “Once upon a time,” “You are your own home,” “86,400 seconds,” “The tale of a girl.”
Follow her on Instagram, pin her poems to your Pinterest account, or grab one of her self-published books, I’ll have no doubt she’ll capture you as she has me.
The Tao of Pooh The Te of Piglet
by Benjamin Hoff
As a kid, Winnie The Pooh taught me about emotions in a portrayal that was both comprehensible and lighthearted, so when I learned about Taoism and the impact it had on one of my favorite authors, I aspired to learn more and stumbled upon this unique delivery.
Taoism: “Realize the potential for individual wisdom… This intuitive knowing of “life” cannot be grasped as a concept; it is known through the actual living experience of one’s everyday being.” -Wikipedia
An enlightening read, get swept into the lives of your favorite childhood characters from the enchanting workings of Benjamin Hoff.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book will help you welcome your spirit of inquiry and “hidden treasures.”
It’s been a few years since I buried myself into the pages of this book, but I can still bear the support and gentle nudge from Elizabeth Gilbert that encourages what’s brewing inside the opportunity to have life.
What would life look like if you saw your idea through and gave it a beginning, middle, and end?
It did find you after all.
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
On the cover, The New York Times states the book is “Brilliant and hugely ambitious…the kind of book that can be life-changing.”
A fictional story that takes the reader into 1939 Nazi Germany, I found this book that weaves in history to be deeply moving and helpful to put myself empathetically into the lives of families that lived during that time.
Daily Love: Growing into Grace
by Mastin Kipp
My fondness for Mastin Kipp started with his blog, Daily Love in 2011.
Called “The Next Generation of Spiritual Seekers” by Oprah Winfrey, Mastin’s inspirational words supported me when I was working at a job that was crushing my essence.
Enthusiastically devoted to reading daily his heartening words, he nudged me towards what I already knew: that I should follow the compass of my heart. Mastin was one of the positive influencers that helped me get out of my own way and raised my spirits to be the person I knew deeply I was supposed to be: forgiveness, purpose, love, authenticity.
Read his blog at www.MastinKipp.com
The Presence Process
by Michael Brown
- Are you uncomfortable with feeling?
- Do you sedate or control situations or emotions?
- Would you like to be more present in your life’s experiences?
Michael Brown would suggest that we are all emotionally underdeveloped.
Sharing the seven-year cycle, he explains that between infancy and seven years old you learn to use your emotions to get what you want, but then between 7-14, you get enrolled in school and start to focus on your mind. At 14-21, the focal point moves to the physical body as you become interested in your body and others.
A presence process, learn to feel what you feel without masking it.
A 12-week experiment. You could give it a try right away or read it in its entirety.
The Miracle of Mindfulness
by Thich Nhat Hanh
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
When I lived in San Diego, CA, as often as I could go, I would attend Sunday mornings at Thich Nhat Hanh’s donation-based monastery, Deer Park.
Tucked away on a hillside, upon arrival a monk in a dark brown robe would share a concise intention and slowly, without talking, a large group of us would walk through nature taking one mindful step at a time.
“We are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life…”
The teachings, influential stories, and personal check-in to acknowledge if mindfulness is displayed in your actions with tools to aid you, will wake you up to life.
The Book of Joy
by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams
A Book Club favorite!
We all want to be untroubled. It doesn’t matter your race, upbringing, or where you live in the world, we all wish to be happy but we often self-sabotage.
This book is about the Dalai Lama (Buddhism) and his friend Desmond Tutu (Christianity) coming together with writer Douglas Abrams (Judaism) to share their life experiences, teachings, have a giggle at each other, and discuss how are we to find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
A girlfriend advised, “everyone should read this book!” and I completely agree.
The four pillars of mental immunity: perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance particularly made a lasting impression on my life.
One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth
by Iyanla Vanzant
My friend suggested it. We were in our mid to late twenties, fresh into yoga and diving into our depths of personal growth.
It’s an interactive book.
Every morning and night for 40 days you are prompted to read, highlight, and journal write within the pages to heal, unwrap and recognize who you truly are and want to be.
It is more religious than spiritual, but you can adjust it to your own interpretation and beliefs.
Other suggestions: Until Today: Daily Devotions for Personal Growth and Peace of Mind
Attitudes of Gratitude
by M.J. Ryan
For the past couple of years, we’ve been living in a pandemic, and like most, I have been feeling the mental and emotional sadness and tiredness it has brought. This is why I have decided to pull out my book Attitudes of Gratitude to charm me out of this depression.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity…” -Melody Beattie is quoted in the book to have said.
In small passages, M.J. with sweet guidance reminds you of the ways gratitude boosts health and suppresses worry. She’ll aid you to foster the mindset to recognize what is right and work in your life as you move through this devastating time.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
by Sarah Ban Breathnach
The book image is the female copy, but she too also has this book for males.
This Book Club suggestion is highly suggested. It offers quotes, lessons, stories, insight, creativity, I LOVE THIS BOOK.
Within its pages, you’ll be stimulated to make your authentic self visible, declutter what no longer serves you internally and externally, you’ll remember what’s important, and come to know and live a life of Simple Abundance.
Depending on where you reside in the world, you may have to go to the month that fits your season as Sarah moves through them. I would however suggest starting with January to set the tone of the Simple Abundance Journey and then go to the month that fits after.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom
by Rick Hanson
I can devour books on love, mindfulness, and forgiveness but to understand why I do what I do is a different story.
To gain an understanding of yourself it would be encouraged to acquire knowledge about the operations of your brain.
Providing psychology, neurology, and introspective practices, this book supplies sensible tools and skills to help you understand, and restructure your brain for your greater good.
by Dr. Amir Levin and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.
Are you Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find- and keep- love
I teach a weekly private yoga class to a Senior Clinical Social Worker who holds a Ph.D. and specializes in Trauma.
As she and I do, we transparently share our present experiences with life, and with COVID, I’ll say I’ve been learning a lot about myself and holding space for my partner, to have patience, be supportive, etc.
She was reading Attached and suggested I too give it a look. I haven’t finished it yet.
Science-based, I’m benefiting from it not only helping me to learn about myself (Anxious attachment) through its research and quizzes but appreciate as well that it opens up a dialogue with my partner (Secure attachment) for us to understand each other.
Meditations From The Mat
by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
Yoga is not a workout, it is a work in. Though it may have started that you got on your mat to get toned and become more flexible, as you return you soon realize the practice is much more.
With self-direction, discovery, and understanding, you begin to take a look at yourself and experiment with the inquiry: Who am I? How do I conduct myself towards others? How profound is the breath on my body and mind? Where can concentration and meditation take me?
“The time for asking questions will be temporary. The questions will be followed by answers, the answers by action, and the action by growth.”
Inspired by a quote from a philosopher, or author, musician, yoga influencer, or a positive difference-maker, every day entwined in Meditations from the Mat are reflections to aid you on your personalized journey.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” -Hopi elder
You are a Badass
by Jen Sincero
“We’d rather do what’s expected of us than give ourselves permission to be, do and have what feels good and right and awesome…Get really good at listening to your intuition and your heart, and following your happiness- it’s critical.”
Whitty, spicy, a firecracker, Jen Sincero will build you up and let you know that if she can do it, you can do it!
This lighthearted, intoxicating read offers stories, exercises, and advice to pep you up, give you a giggle and entice you to be the best you can be.
The Mastery of Love
by Don Miguel Ruiz
“To master a relationship is all about you.
The first step is to become aware, to know that everyone dreams his own dream. Once you know this, you can be responsible for your half of the relationship, which is you.”
Easily, this book can be completed in a few days.
Intriguing, and comprehensible, get a glimpse of your mind and the workings of it in a way that will help you perceive your hesitation to love, why you clench onto love, and in consequence, why loving yourself is imperative to master love.
Other suggestions: The Four Agreements, The Four Agreements: Companion Book
Moving forward: Taking the lead in your life
by Dave Pelzer
Would you walk, drive, eat, watch TV or go on a date with a duffle bag of your smelly shit next to you?
Most people do. Swung their shit over their shoulders and transport it with them everywhere they go allowing it to negatively impact every angle of their life.
“If you’re forty, and still brooding over something that happened in your mid-teens, have you in fact wasted more years of your life than the event itself occupied?
Learn to let go and move forward from the author that wrote the bestselling memoir A Child called ‘It.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
by Deepak Chopra
- The Law of Pure Potentiality,
- The Law of Giving
- The Law of “Karma”
- The Law of Least Effort
- The Law of Intention and Desire
- The Law of Detachment
- The Law of Purpose in Life
These are the Seven Spiritual Laws.
“Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind…what we sow is what we reap.
And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.”
-The Law of “Karma” or Cause and Effect
Just a bit over 100 pages, quiet down the mind, become more wakeful in consciousness, and acquire knowledge through these Laws and Applications to be your true self.
Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox
I listened to this book on audio and what an inspiration it was! It was the way he shared his story, his descriptions, and the vulnerability in his voice.
I wrote a blog about an insert from it where he shared a time we went on a road trip with his son, Sam, and the lesson he was trying to convey to him surprisingly he learned from as well, and maybe you will too?
Many Lives, Many Masters
by Brian L. Weiss, M.D.
My fiance’s friend was murdered.
I had been reading this book before the horrific incident and I concluded it on a holiday after.
I never considered the afterlife but reading this book immensely helped my heart.
This book will change not only how to see death but you’ll question how old your soul is, where you’ve been, who you’ve been, it will widen your perspective if you deal with an unnerving characteristic, and it will have you think about how we all may be linked.
Hector and the Pursuit of Happiness
A movie based on Francois Lelord’s novel
Are you feeling confused about what the purpose of life is?
Do you feel like you getting lost in the pursuit of being someone of importance and rich?
This movie reminds us what happiness is: spontaneity, not pretending, being up for change, and loving as you’ve never loved before.
“Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.”