I am often asked for recommended reading material. I tell students that the scope of ParaYoga and its source of teaching, the science of Tantra Yoga, is a synthesis of a vast array of teaching and principles not contained in one literary source. The texts I suggest to each student depend on their level of experience and particular interests.
ParaYoga is the confluence of three great rivers of spiritual teachings: Classical Yoga, Ayurveda, and the body of teachings of Tantra and the Vedas. The aspiring ParaYoga student or anyone interested in growing his or her knowledge of ParaYoga should have a grasp of all three streams of knowledge, briefly outlined below:
Tantra and the Vedas.
(Note: You may also be interested in the required reading list for Parayoga Teacher Certification.)
Classical Yoga: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is the basis of what is known as Classical Yoga. It is also called Raja Yoga and was originally described as Ashtanga Yoga, which may create confusion, because of a now popular Hatha Yoga style of the same name. Patanjali’s philosophical teachings – he speaks hardly at all about Asana or physical practice – more than any other approach, defined what most yoga practitioners think of when they think of Yoga. Deeper study will demonstrate that the Yoga Sutras are not the whole of Yogic wisdom. Although not entirely distinct from Tantra, there is clearly a difference in emphasis of what is elaborated upon in the Tantric tradition versus in the Yoga Sutras. Nonetheless, Pure Yoga considers these teachings and disciplines as the essential foundation for its study and practice.
Patanjali’s brilliance produced a text that is uniquely precise, systematic, and non-religious in its approach. It also happens to be applicable universally to the human condition. In a single concise text, he provided perhaps the very clearest way of seeing into the nature of human suffering, the steps to overcoming it, as well as, how to reach beyond it into knowledge of the ultimate truths. Patanjali wrote in a terse style. His teachings are contained in 196 Sutras, some as short as a sentence, others as long as a paragraph. While translations of his actual writings don’t vary so much, it is in the interpretations or “commentaries” that different schools or traditions impose or share their insight into his teachings.
- THE HEART OF YOGA by T. K. V. Desikachar
- HOW TO KNOW GOD by Swami Prabhavanda and Christopher Isherwood
- THE ROYAL PATH by Swami Rama
- YOGA FOR WELLNESS by Gary Kraftsaw
- THE SECRET OF THE YOGA SUTRA by Panditji Rajmani Tigunait
Ayurveda, literally the “knowledge of life.” If Yoga is the science of spirituality, Ayurveda is the science of healing. It is said that in ancient times, before students were allowed to undertake the spiritual disciplines of Tantra and Yoga they first were required to be familiar with the principals of Ayurveda. By embodying Ayurvedic principals and practices into our lives and lifestyles we become the most capable of achieving the promise of Yoga and one’s greatest fate.
- PERFECT HEALTH by Dr. Deepak Chopra
- YOGA AND AYURVEDA by David Frawley
- AYURVEDA AND THE MIND by Dr. David Frawley
- AYURVEDA–THE SCIENCE OF SELF-HEALING by Dr. Vasant Lad
Tantra is the nearly endless body of systematic spiritual practices and knowledge. It includes the teachings of the Vedas (the world’s oldest surviving spiritual texts), Upanishades, and Puranas, as well as, Sankya philosophy and other pertinent Yogic teachings. Tantra includes the inspired teachings and practices of Hatha, Tantric/Hatha, Kriya, Mantra, Yantra, Kundalini, Jnana, Laya, Bhakti, Swara, Laya, and Maithuna Yogas, as well as astrology, alchemy, gemology and a variety of so many other disciplines and teachings that it makes it almost impossible to offer a complete list.
Below please find links to the individual sections for each list of books I most often recommend. They do not include the required reading for Parayoga Certification.
A Final Thought: Reading can be a source of inspiration and a way of gathering more information, but its value is limited. True learning and development in this tradition is born from practice and in the direct exchange between teacher and student. Tantra is a Kavi tradition. Kavi is defined as “whispering wisdom,” meaning that the deepest Truth – whether theoretical or experiential – is only truly passed through the words and, most importantly, the presence of one who has directly experienced the light of those teachings and themselves been guided by a living master. Scholars can gather tremendous amounts of knowledge and theoretical understanding, but they remain outsiders to the real worth of the teachings, limited by the confines of intellect. The fact remains that reading about transformation is easier (and often more interesting) than being transformed. Even dedicated students find it preferable to read, think, or talk about change than do the actual work that creates it. That said, enjoy! There is much to be gained from heart-felt study and these amazing books.
- TANTRA UNVEILED by Panditji Rajmani Tigunait
- FROM DEATH TO BIRTH – UNDERSTANDING KARMA AND REINCARNATION by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
- SEVEN SYSTEMS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
- THE ELEVENTH HOUR by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
- FROM THE RIVER OF HEAVEN by Dr. David Frawley
- TANTRIC YOGA AND THE WISDOM GODDESSES by Dr. David Frawley
- TOOLS FOR TANTRA by Harish Johari
- UPANISHADS by Eknat Eshwaran
- BHAGAVAD GITA by Eknat Eshwaran
- YOGA AND PSYCHOTHERAPY–THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS by Swami Rama
- PATH OF FIRE AND LIGHT by Swami Rama
- HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA by Swami Mukhta Bodhananda
- KUNDALINI TANTRA by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
- SHIVA SUTRA by Jaideva Singh
- AGHORA–AT THE LEFT HAND OF GOD by Robert Svoboda
- AGHORA 2 KUNDALINI by Robert Svoboda