Recommended Reading

On this page are a list of books that other people from the Shiva Yoga community have recommended as being helpful in their healing process.


Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation – By Daniel Shaw


Daniel Shaw is the current admin of the Leaving Siddha Yoga website and his book Traumatic Narcissism was developed from an earlier essay entitled Traumatic Abuse in Cult which he wrote after leaving Siddha Yoga and completing his master’s degree in Social Work in 1996. While only ch. 3 of the book specifically relates to cults, the book studies in depth the relationship of subjugation that develops, and analyzes the nature of the subjugator (guru), and its impact on the subjugated (follower).

Available at

In this volume, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, Daniel Shaw presents a way of understanding the traumatic impact of narcissism as it is engendered developmentally, and as it is enacted relationally. Focusing on the dynamics of narcissism in interpersonal relations, Shaw describes the relational system of what he terms the ‘traumatizing narcissist’ as a system of subjugation – the objectification of one person in a relationship as the means of enforcing the dominance of the subjectivity of the other.



Sex and the Spiritual Teacher – By Scott Edelstein

We’ve received many recommendations for this book. You can download a sample from the author’s website:


“A penetrating look at the underlying causes of the sexual abuse of students by their allegedly ‘spiritual’ or ‘enlightened’ teachers. More importantly, the author provides incisive and compassionate proposals for creating healthy spiritual communities that are safe for all participants. Highly recommended.” –Brian Victoria, author of Zen at War


The Guru Papers – by Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad

For anybody wanting to understand the nature of the guru-disciple relationship and how authoritarianism and coercion actually works, the Guru Papers is highly recommended. Now available on Kindle.



“The ostensible reason for fostering surrender is it detaches followers from certain deep conditionings presumed to be obstacles on the spiritual path. But it does not detach them from one of the most insidious and powerful conditionings of all- the predilection to look for an authority that one can trust more than oneself.” (p.50)

“In the realm of sexuality, the two prevalent ways control is exerted are through promulgating either celibacy or promiscuity…both serve the same function: they minimize the possibilities of people bonding deeply with each other, thus reducing factors that compete with the guru for attention.” (p.92)

“…Asserting that one human being fundamentally knows what’s best for another is authoritarian. If this is accepted, it sets up a chain of inevitable relational patterns that are detrimental to all players of the game.” (p.36)


Take Back Your Life – by Janja Lalich & Madeleine Tobias


” I have now read over half of it and I am finding it comprehensive and thought provoking and increasingly useful in my recovery.” – Ex-Shiva Yoga member.

Cult victims and those who have suffered abusive relationships often suffer from fear, confusion, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress. Take Back Your Life explains the seductive draw that leads people into such situations, provides guidelines for assessing what happened, and hands-on tools for getting back on track. Written for victims, their families, and professionals, this book leads readers through the healing process.