For most of my life yoga has been a private affair, which I didn’t really share with anyone else until I started teaching. Being a very introverted person, I never entangled with the yoga community beyond my own teacher; when I started teaching in studios I was frankly quite surprised that many people in the local yoga community seemed to think yoga hadn’t been written about much throughout history, and that there wasn’t much information to glean other than going to asana-only classes.
I am here to tell you there is an enormous amount of information out there, and much of it is absolutely free. Around about the middle of the 19th century India started translating and disseminating a great deal of its philosophy, art, religion, and so forth into English to try to show the world India as an advanced culture with much to offer. This was, in part, in hopes of being freed from the imperial designs of Britain, were the world to see that India deserved more than a place of servitude and submission.
Many of these translations are on the internet for free now, often with multiple translations to choose from. Many people don’t know how to proceed to become more literate in yoga, it’s history and philosophy, so here, I will point the way: Swami Nikhilananda’s translations of the principal Upanishads are a great start. I suggest you read at least Kathopanishad, and the Mandukya Upanishad along with the Guadapada Karika. Not only is it free, but these are very clear solid translations. I also suggest the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali....there are many many different translations out there. Chandra Vasu’s translations of the Shiva Samhita and the Gheranda Samhita. You can also find the Goraksha Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika free online.
I am here to tell you there is an enormous amount of information out there, and much of it is absolutely free.
It is important to realize to understand one book, you often have to read many. If more than one translation is available, read them all. This is the way it is when you are reading something in translation, especially the more different the time, culture, and place of the text. To make it even easier for the local yoga community, I have done a lot of the heavy lifting for you, and am now teaching many of these books in my yogic textual studies series.
Asana (postures) are very important for health and discipline, but focusing on them alone is just hovering at the doorway of yoga without ever bothering to walk in. Don’t be shy, come on in!