Light On Life

My love affair with yoga started a year ago. It was purely a physical affair. Passionate as it was, yoga to me was just asanas and pranayama. Although pranayama was conducted in the classes that I went to, I never thought much of it. In fact, I usually dismissed it as weird ways of breathing. Neither did I feel that it had brought me any benefits.
But after starting my YTTC, I realised how little I knew about what I had claimed as my passion. There were much deeper depths that i could explore. And so I went further. I bought books on yoga and devoured them. Pranayama, yoga philosphy etc. I cannot in truth,say at this point, that I have ingested all the material. It takes more than just superficial readings to understand and grasp the many concepts presented. What I can say is how reading these books have complemented my own practice.
One of the books that I have immensely enjoyed thus far, is the Light On Life by yoga’s revered guru B.K.S Iyengar. His story is both inspiring and touching. Born weak, his early yogic path was arduous and filled with pain, both physically and mentally. He struggled with asanas for many years without giving up. In fact, his own guru, the revered Krishnamacharya, even told him that he was unfit to do pranayama. This despite the fact that he had been teaching for several years.
Engaging tragic back story aside, what makes the book an absorbing read for me is how he breaks down the concept of asana and pranayama. For the topic on asana, with headlines such as ‘Awareness: Every pore of the skin has to become an eye’ and ‘Perfecting : Always be happy with the smallest improvement’, I was able to bring my own practice a step further. Although my practice is only a year old, there are days when mechanical actions have taken over me, especially with poses that I erroneously believe I am able to execute. Reading his book has brought new enthusiasm and renewed vigor for me into my daily practice. I remember that each asana involves thought, innovation and improvisation.
To illustrate his point, he would assume a standing asana in front of his class and tell them it is a perfect asana. No one can fault it or say that it has any defect. It is perfect in appearance but dead inside as his mind is elsewhere. Then he redoes the asana with his mind fully present. He creates unity within himself and he makes them see the attention of the torso, legs and senses of perception. They are perceptively different. I am immensely fascinated as bringing the mind and body together is still a challenge for me in every asana.
With his chapter on pranayama, I was amazed at how powerful our seemingly simple breath could be. It made me realize then that it was not what I could do for yoga but rather what yoga could do for me. I feel blessed that I have come across this book now when my journey has just begun for it has so much to teach me.
As I am writing this, his book is still opening up my world of yoga and deepening the depths of my passionionate affair with yoga. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has interest in deepening their understanding of yoga and hope that they will enjoy it as much as I have.
YTTC Weekend Jul-Oct 2013
With reference from Light on Life B.K.S. Iyengar 2005

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