Contemplative study of wisdom teachings is a core yoga practice, part of svādhyāya in Patañjali’s Yoga-Sūtra and jñāna yoga in the Bhagavad Gītā. Buddhist and Hindu traditions are the primary sources of postmodern yoga, along with many other streams of culture, Indian and globalized.
Here are original and modern texts I suggest starting, and deepening, with. The list is primarily for yoga students, so emphasizes Hindu yogas, though I’m including a good amount of Buddhist material as well, because of its strong role in the development of Yoga and its importance to many contemporary practitioners.
Original texts in translation can be deeply inspiring but also deeply problematic and challenging. We are reading these teachings far outside their initial contexts, where all of them were part of cultures of dynamic exploration and intellectual and spiritual development. To come closer to them, each text should ideally be read alongside its primary commentaries, where the views of different lineages are argued, and in a few different translations, since some are more poetic, some more literal, and all colored by the translator’s own practice and wisdom.
One ideal setting for study is with a guru teaching in an intact interpretive lineage, in the context of faith and personal seeking. Another is to learn the original language. Most of us do not have access to that kind of traditional study, so we must compensate through deep respect and humility when approaching these ancient and precious systems of human knowledge.