Svadhyaya is the study of self through the study of spiritual text. Much of my Yoga Beyond Asana classes are based on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
I am often asked which book I would recommend among the many commentaries of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I have collected many different books over the years and here are my three favorites and most used. ( not in any order ).
1) ALISTAIR SHEARER -This book reads easily, and is organized with the unique style of all the commentary first followed by the sutras. The size of the book is easy to travel with, and the language used is easily understood and contemplative for these modern days. An easy book for someone just starting to study The Yoga Sutras of Patanajali.
2) BKS Iyengar- A book about yoga ,written by a yogi and with commentary by a master yogi in modern times. This book has a depth of information for a lifetime. If you are new to yoga the commentary may be difficult to understand at first as it is so comprehensive and refers to many yogic terms and concepts that take time, study and experience to acquire knowledge of. The direct translation of each sutra is given based on the sanskrit, with the various words that could be used for the translation provided so you have a better understanding of the nuance of the sutra. There is also lots of extra information and graphs about yoga that are useful if not at first, over time as your yoga study deepens. As your knowledge and experience of yoga grows over time, so will your understanding and appreciation of this book. A must for any serious student of yoga.
3) EDWIN F BRYANT-this book is practical for study and filled with objective and informative commentary based on references from different sources and authorities. Different yogic schools of thought are also presented when applicable, as is the Buddhist perspective when opinions on topics diverge with yogic ones. Detailed explanation with additional back ground information on various yoga related subjects make this a necessary addition to your yoga sutra collection.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are reference texts not just to read for self study but are meant to accompany study with a teacher. They will provide a lifetime of reflection, inspiration, guidance and svadhyaya practice. There are many books with different commentaries and perspectives of commentators. I suggest looking at several to find one that resonates well with you. As you progress, more than one book is helpful to study and deepen your understanding.
If you have a favorite Yoga Sutras of Patanjali book not mentioned here please let us know in the comments below.
For information about Yoga Beyond Asana see online class page single classes.