Though not usually at the top of the list of every yoga beginner, this wonderful tome may eventually become a bookshelf addition as your curiosity about yoga grows. So, why am I recommending it now, you ask? This version (admittedly, the only one I have read) by Dr. Edwin Bryant (a Professor of Hindu religion and philosophy at Rutgers University) provides a robust yet manageable section on the history of Yoga.
The history of Yoga is not a straightforward, linear one. It was a tradition passed down by word of mouth for centuries before Patanjali collated all his knowledge into a guide-book of sorts called “The Yoga Sutras”. “Sutra” means “stitch” in Sanskrit, which is the intention of this book. It stitches together in a coherent, logical way all the teachings of yoga that our teachers for millennia have passed down.