The 6 invaluable tools for yoga at home that I use daily…
Life is wonderful! We are blessed to live in an age where we don’t have to travel to India to find that one yogi rumored to provide the breakthrough to happiness. It is now so easy to practice yoga at home – we can throw on a podcast or try a youtube video and experiment almost endlessly. The downside of this is that, particularly for someone just beginning their path, it’s easy to get lost among the multitude of options.
Although I’m always one to experiment and try new things, I started my journey by doing yoga at home – I was shy about going to a class where I was sure everyone would be flexible and skilled and I would be the inflexible new guy. Now, many years on, I teach group classes and enjoy taking them occasionally, but my personal practice has returned to primarily a home practice.
You can benefit from my experience with yoga at home, because through my experimentation over the years, I’ve found a few books, audio books, and videos that are very dear to me – resources that helped me to break through to happiness – to make steps in personal growth in my life. These are resources that I hold close, and use often. For this article I picked my favorite two videos, two books, and two audio books – think of me as your filter, steering you to the best of the best. I recommend for balance that you try to do a little reading, a little audio, and a little video every day.
Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga
This is where it all started for me, and I recommend Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga to beginners and advanced yogis alike. Talk about destiny, I originally picked this up as a random VHS purchase in a bookstore. The VHS had only the second class in this series, the one called “Tone” and that’s the class you should start with. I wore that original tape out, often using it to practice twice a day. I love the way Bryan strips the dogma from the practice and makes it truly practical and accessible. He makes it all seem so simple that it took me a few years of listening over and over before I picked up on the depth of what he was saying. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity and the seeming “westernness” of this video by the inventor of Power Yoga – Bryan is the real deal, having practiced and studied in India back in the 1980’s before it became a popular thing to do. Now that Bryan has become a dear friend, we can all make fun of how he dressed in these videos, which do have an early 90’s feel! Bryan Kest is also an accomplished meditation teacher and practitioner and the owner of Santa Monica Power Yoga, the place many advanced yogis consider consider to be the hub of yoga in the western hemisphere. Bryan also offers online classes at poweryoga.com.
Yin Yoga with Paul Grilley
I found Paul Grilley after I had been teaching a while and he was recommended as the expert when it comes to anatomy. He has an excellent anatomy video which basically teaches that all of us have different shaped bones, therefore none of us will look the same in poses. This forms the core of Paul’s physical practice philosophy that each of us has to find our own path within our own unique anatomy. Having said that about his anatomy DVD, the video I am recommending here is Yin Yoga: The Foundations of a Quite Practice, which is truly a physical and mental practice for the advanced yogi. When I was younger, I could have never imagined holding poses for five minutes at a time, so this is definitely a mature practice, but if you give it a try, I think you will love it. I’ve gotten used to the reactions when I teach yin – especially from people who have been practicing flow classes for a while… they are often blown away by how a yin class can access new places within, both physically and mentally. I will eventually be offering one of my yin classes on this site, but until then, I can’t recommend this video highly enough.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle has been a key personal influence in the growth of my practice beyond the physical and into the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga. I had the pleasure of studying with Eckhart at a few of his workshops, and he is truly an enlightened soul. More than his books – this audio book, where you can hear the words directly, can have a profound impact leading to direct personal transformation. The message is simple, but the depth of the work makes it worth going back to again and agian.
The End of Your World by Adyashanti
I think of this audiobook by Adyashanti as a sort of companion to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now audiobook. They both speak from person experience, but where Eckhart’s awakening was direct, deep, immediate, and lasting, Adyashanti’s was more gradual. Because of this Adyashanti’s experience is, perhaps for some, more accessible. Another thing I love about this audiobook, he goes into great depth about what it is like to live in an awakened state. He covers the gradual transform process into presence – the experience of tasting it, then dropping back into the real world; how it can feel lonely and scary to leave behind friends and lifestyles that no longer work for you; how awakening is not a state of pure bliss and how to aproach what you find along the path in a balanced way. This audiobook is an invaluable tool for self inquiry.
I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
I found Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj fairly early in my practice, before I started a physical practice, and before I even started called what I was doing yoga. I was wandering around desperately searching for answers – something that would release the deep unease and inner pain I was feeling. I was reading a lot of philosophy at the time, and I cam across this book I AM THAT, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Do you think it helped? I read the first 10 pages or so and it made no sense to me! Fast forward about 10 years – 10 years of physical and mental practice, plus an awakening experience, and when I found the book in my library and took a look at it again, it was like meeting an old friend who knew exactly what I was experiencing and could speak deeply about what life was like for me. So I can’t say that this book will resonate for you, especially since I had to get to a certain stage in my personal growth before I could appreciate it. But it is definitely worth a try.
Courage by Osho
Courage, The Joy of Living Dangerously, by Osho is an incredibly inspiring book. Osho was an amazing figure – brash, controvercial, challenging – hated by many in his native India while alive – he is now cherished as a philosopher and teacher of enlightenment. Courage is challenging, inspiring, comforting, and at its core, full of love. The book reads like a manifesto, constantly pushing you to towards your fears, encouraging you to embrace them, love them, and ultimately find ways to move beyond them. I found the book a joy to read the first time, and I go back to it often. My copy has more words underlined, starred and highlighted than there are words left alone!
So that’s it, the 6 books, audio books, and videos I for doing yoga at home on a daily basis. I hope this helps you cut through the flood of information out there so, instead of spending all of your time distractedly searching for stuff, you can get these and spend the time truly moving your practice to a deeper, more fulfilling, and rewarding space.
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