Teaching yoga has been around a lot longer than formal education, and some of what’s been learned in the past century about how people learn best can certainly complement the ancient teachings of yoga.
These five education books for yoga teachers can provide insights into your teaching to improve communication, outreach, and inclusivity in your classes.
1. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
Freire’s revolutionary work about education as a tool of liberation reminds us of the importance of humility in our teaching, and the dangers of seeing ourselves as saviors to our students. His recommended teaching framework is based on praxis, which he defines as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.”
As teachers, however, we must trust in our students’ experiences and knowledge and see them as teachers too — both of us working together in partnership toward self-realization. In light of various controversies around warped guru-student relationships, Freire’s book is timely and important.
2. The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child by Thom Hartmann
Many students, myself included, venture into their first yoga class as a way to settle their overactive minds. You may encounter students who are carrying a diagnosis of ADHD or who self-identify as such.
Hartmann’s gift is to see ADHD not as an inherent flaw in the individual, but rather a mismatch between bright and curious minds and our current educational system. After reading this book, you’ll be better able to understand and support these students.
Fun fact: Hartmann argues that Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of the modern era, would likely have been diagnosed with ADHD if alive today.
3. Brain Rules by John Medina
Many of us learned about basic anatomy and physiology, as well as the psychology of the chakra system, in our 200-hour teacher training. But the brain’s power and complexity is so complex that it only makes sense to go deeper.
Medina, a molecular biologist, makes neuroscience fun and accessible. You’ll learn about attention spans, the impact of stress on learning, and the importance of physical fitness to cognitive flexibility.
4. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Pausch, a college professor, wrote this book during his battle with terminal cancer. He offers it as one final lesson to his students, but the unstated irony is that this is much more than a lecture; it’s a life handbook.
This book is filled with great quotes that could be incorporated into your next class and includes reminders to let life be messy, to follow your dreams, and to create a legacy of love and light.
5. Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler
This design book is incredibly relevant and practical for educators across all types of learning. It includes two-page summaries of the most important design theories, such as biophilia, which argues that time spent focused on nature improves focus.
Perhaps it’ll inspire you to take your next yoga class outside or bring portraits of nature into your studio. The Desire Line theory will be useful to your class scheduling while Advance Organizer theory will help you to create powerful cues during your flow.
Finally, if like many teachers and studio owners you are designing your own website and marketing materials, the tips in here are priceless for creating visually engaging materials.
Have your own list of recommended books for yoga teachers? Share them in the comments below!