Light on Life – B.K.S. Iyengar: A Book Review

The following is a brief synopsis and personal interpretation of the above-mentioned book written by Yoga Guru and legend B.K.S. Iyengar.
This book illustrates the personal journey and story of B.K.S Iyengar.  Light on Life is an emotional, spiritual and personal journey of an individual to aspire to, for those who are taking the yoga journey and for those who perhaps need some form of inspiration. 
Each chapter provides a descriptive explanation of the Five Sheaths of Being (Kosas), which could also be defined as one of the fundamental platforms of Yoga.
There appears to be a distinct progression throughout the book, building to a climax from the first chapter, however, the author is quick to clarify this is not the case, stressing that each level is as vital as the next to reaching “wholeness” and working in harmony.
As a relative newcomer to Yoga I found this literature a sound introduction to the theory behind the history and practice of Yoga.  I found the way the author related personal obstacles throughout his life to the framework he was explaining, to be of great value enabling the reader to digest some of the more complex subject matter a little easier.  It also prompts the reader to reflect on their own challenges, past and present, and how they may have tackled those obstacles differently. 
Additionally, the book offers a realistic and sustainable solution to making improvements in any aspect of their lives and is not limited to Yogis or advanced Yoga students, but is accessible for anybody motivated to make these improvements and would recommend it accordingly.

“When I practice I am a philosopher,

When I teach I am a scientist,

When I demonstrate I am an artist.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

Enzyme (home-made environmental friendly)

1)  to do dishes and laundry( add about 20ml to full load of laundry, 40ml to 500ml of detergent)
2) for washing bathrooms and toilets( act as a booster to cleaners)
3) for removing stubborn stains
4) to clean vegetables and fruits
5) clear blockages in kitchen sinks and drains
6) as a natural insect repellent (use undiluted) for ants, cockroaches..
7) as a floorwash to mop floors shiny clean( add a small cap to floor cleansers for a full pail of water)
8 ) as fertiliser for vegetables, flowering and non-flowering plants
9) as a skincare product, e.g. facial cleanser( great for oily hair, add about a teaspoon to each wash for scalp cleansing!!! tried it and loved it!! saved alot on hair treatment!)
Things to prepare :
10L of water
3kg of fresh Fruit skin ( I prefer citrus fruits example pineapple, orange, lime, lemon)
1Kg of Brown sugar
Mix and stir everything together to dissolve the sugar and place it in a sealed container, air tight please!! you would never want the smell to diffuse to any part of your home. Place it in a safe place ( where no spillage will occur) for 3 months. You can speed up the process by adding 2 tablespoons of yeast which will take about 2 weeks instead of 3 months for full fermentation.( i have never tried using yeast). I suggest you fill the final product in small bottles for easy excess usage. This about should last almost more than 6 months.
My family has been a avid user for a few years!! We are very please with the results and whats most important we are saving the earth. With so many products introduced every year but only a few guarantee to be bio-degradable. It is a factor that affects a lot of developing countries, with toxics pumping into open seas and rivers. Affecting eco system in seas. Lets do a small little part right in our homes.

Garbha Pindasana (Womb Embryo)

Tiny thoughts:
“Slippery when Wet.” That is the way to go for this pose. Do your primary series and you will reach this position towards the end and it will make it easier to do the asana and smile(with satisfaction as you are reaching the end of the practice). Try when you have not sweat it out before the Primary Series and then try again in the flow of PS. Try it! You will know what I mean.
Dristi point: Nose
Chakra: Manipura
Benefits:

  1. Reduces excess fat in the body especially in the abdominal region due to total contraction during the asana.
  2. The digestive system of the body improves due to the regular practice of this posture. It also prevents all kinds of stomach illnesses.
  3. Provides exercise to both the upper and the lower body
  4. Exercise that might help get you to the perfect Asana:
  5. Lots of hip flexors( Baddha Konanasana)
  6. Core, which helps to loosen the fats around the trunk.
  7. Strengthen the knees

Hip Adductors (Inner Thigh) / groin muscle and inner quad muscle (VMO) Strengthening: Sit in chair, put fist between knees, squeeze together knees. Hold for count of 10. Relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions.
Lie on floor on your right side, shoulder and hips aligned. Use your right hand to prop up your head. Place the left hand on floor in front of you to help balance yourself. Bend left leg and bring it to the floor in front of you. Slowly raise your right leg about 10 inches off the floor then, hold for a second, then slowly lower leg to ground. Lift 10 times on each side.
Hip Abductors (Outer Thigh) strengthening: Lie on floor on your right side, shoulder and hips aligned. Bend right leg (leg on floor) to 90 degrees.Slowly raise you left leg about 18 inches, hold for a second, then slowly lower leg.Do 10 repetitions. Repeat on other side.
Instructions:
Place the legs in full lotus.
Slide elbows through the 2 gaps formed from the lotus pose.
Place the chin in between the palms
Variation: Roll back and fourth clockwise nine times with deep breathing OR roll back and fourth nine times in a straight line
Note:
Overweight people may find it relatively hard to pass their arms through the gaps between their calves and thighs. However, the arms can be more readily passed through the gap if one raises oneself just a bit after placing legs in Full Lotus
www.syvum.com/cgi/online/serve.cgi/fun/yoga
www.bigkneepain.com/knee-exercises.html#kneestrengtheningexercises

Navasana

Navasana (Nava=Boat)
Tiny thoughts:
Engage your abdominal muscles babe!
I am terrible at this pose but I am about to change things around! The next time, you will be hearing. “I love this Asana!”
I have been working on my abs. Sitting in a V-shape with my sit bones grounded to the floor and holding up one leg at a time. Then holding both legs up above the ground, ENGAGE your CORE!!! I hear myself saying to myself again and again. Then I will let go of both my arms and “PLOP!” my legs fall THUD onto the ground. So.. bring it up again!!!
This helps: Rotate your thighs inward and SQUEEZE… Lengthen your spine and lift your sternum..
Anatomical focus:
Thyroid
Dristi point: Toes
Chakra: Muladhara and Swadhishthana
Benefits:

  1. Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
  2. Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines

Contraindications:

  1. Asthma
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Headache
  4. Heart problems
  5. Insomnia
  6. Low blood pressure
  7. Menstruation
  8. Pregnancy

Neck injury: Sit with back against the wall to perform this pose. As you tilt your head back, rest the back of your head on the wall.
Prop for help!
Often its difficult to straighten the raised legs. Bend your knees and loop a strap around the soles of your feet, gripping firmly in your hands. Inhale, lean the torso back, then exhale and lift and straighten your legs, adjusting the strap to keep it taut. Push the feet firmly against the strap.
Instructions:
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips, fingers pointing towards the feet and strengthen the arms. Lift through the sternum and lean back slightly. Make sure your back is straight; continue to lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and the top sternum. Sit on the ‘tripod’ of your sit bones and tailbone.
Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor. Lengthen your tailbone into the floor and lift your pubis toward your navel. Straighten your knees, raising the tips of toes slightly above eye level.
Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to each other and the floor. Spread the shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through the fingers.
Try to keep the lower abdomen flat. Press heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top sternum. Breathe easily. Tip the chin slightly toward the sternum so the base of the skull lifts lightly away from the back of the neck.
Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.

Quick view on type 2 Diabetes with help of yoga postures

Diabetes means that the body does not produce or use  insulin properly. Many studies have reported the beneficial effect of the practice of yoga on diabetes. Type 2 Diabetics made up 90 to 95 percent of Diabetics.It is a scary thought that we could so much harm to our body.Reason for type 2 Diabetics is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not respond to the effects of the hormone insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. In addition, some people with type 2 diabetes also may not produce sufficient amounts of insulin in the pancreas.

The pancreas contains enzyme producing cells that secrete two hormones. The two hormones are insulin and glucagon. Insulin and glucagon are secreted directly into the bloodstream, and together, they regulate the level of glucose in the blood.The cause of abnormal pancreatic function in diabetics is insulin resistance, it happens when cells stops responding to insulin means it does allow glucose to enter it. which in return will increase glucose in blood and it gets higher and higher. As long as there is too much glucose in blood and too little in cells, the Pancreas will continue to produce insulin to pull glucose level down. It is a vicious cycle.This is how Diabetics occurs.
Long term damages:
kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy and blindness, peripheral neuropathy,  serious skin infections, cardiovasculars disease, stroke, disability, osteoporosis, Alzheimers disease, hearing damage and death.

Studies  have confirm that the practice yoga asanas can rejuvenate the insulin producing cells in the pancreas of diabetics of BOTH types, and that doing the postures in a relaxed manner, without exertion, meditation and pranayama help most patients to control the causes of diabetes.

Here are some asanas which will benefit Diabetics

Marichyasana ABCD, Dhanurasana (Bow pose,) Paschimottanasana(Sitting crane), Padangusthasana (Standing crane), Sarvangasana(Shoulder stand), Spinal twist, halasana (Plough pose)

These postures will help to massage abdominal organs like intestine, stimulate peristalsis, tones and massage the liver and pancreas. And also do wonders by stretching the kidneys.

Philosophy

Chakras
There are seven locations of the principle chakras from lower end of spinal column to the crown of the head: Muladhara, Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata,Vishuddha, Ajan and Sahasrara.  As the place to store subtle and vital energy forces, each chakra represents a state of consciousness with particular characters and corresponds to the seven lokas, astral or mental planes.  The philosophy of chakras is very helpful when practising Yoga.  I will focus on the following two chakras.
 Muladhara locates at the lower end of the spinal column and represents the Earth principle, which bestows breath and mind control, and knowledge of past, present and future.  Surya Bhedana Pranayma and Uddiyana Bandha can be the good examples to hold breath and lock Muladhara chakra to heat the body.
 Swadhisthana locates at the genital organs and represents Water element, which confers psychic powers, intuitional knowledge and knowledge of astral entities. To practise Bhujangasana and Vamadevasana can strengthen the genital organs, as well as Swadhisthana chakra.
Meditation
Meditation is a way of focusing your mind and stimulating body cells, as well as an agent to help us to reach chakras. As a particular posture, Padnasana is well known for its effectiveness to concentrate our attention on breathing, mind cleansing and soul pursuing.
There are various forms of meditation, Padnasasa is not necessary if you are not comfortable with the posture, you can sit anywhere with any posture and start to meditate by closing your eyes, controlling your breath and focusing on something.  You can meditate by your own or with a group of people.
For better effect, do not meditate after meal.  After shower will be an ideal time to relax and meditate.
 Nose cleansing
There are two ways of nose cleansing: Jala Neti and Sutra Neti. The previous one is comparatively easy by pouring salt water into one nostril, then raises the head and blows the excess water out of the nostril; or, raises the head and allows salt water to flow down into the throat and out of the month.  The latter one sounds difficult: insert the catheter into the nostril, and then draw it out through mouth slowly and carefully by using the index finger and thumb.  I tried both and found they are very useful to treat my sinus.

Vrschikasana

Vrschikasana
Introduction
“Vrscika” is a scorpion. This pose in its advanced stage resembles a scorpion with its tail arched back over its head for attacking.  It requires strength on  the shoulder and upper back, although when in the position, little strength is needed as you find your balance and relaxation into this posture.
The Posture
As a comparatively difficult posture, for beginner I suggest you to do it against the wall for safely purpose. Place your  forearms and hands on the ground of shoulder-width, walk your feet towards your body then one leg at a time, place your feet or heels against the wall push your hips slightly forward and tighten your buttock for support, your eyes look down to your hands. So,  please do not force yourself to lift up if you have weak spine or spine problems. To recover, reverse your path slowly and carefully then move into the child’s pose so that your head and neck are supported in line with the rest of your spine.
Benefits
People who can practise this posture usually with a very stable mind and strong will.  Of course you can also enhance your balancing, improve lung function, stimulate inner muscles and train a stronger spine.

Salamba Sarvangasana

Sarvangasana
Introduction
 ‘Sarvanga’ refers to ‘whole’ or ‘everything’, as well as the benefits yielded by this posture to all parts of the body. Which, is also known as Salamba Sarvangasana or the shoulder stand, specially works on the throat energy centre (Visuddha chakra), increases blood supply and nourishes the brain. As Salamba Sarvangasana, this is a basic posture to all beginners. 
The Posture
For Beginner , i suggest you to partice this posture against the wall to prevent  your neck injuire. First, lie on your side with your knees drawn up, placing your shoulder and hip along the edge of your matwith your buttocks touching the wall, roll over on to your back and levelling your buttocks against the wall, keep your spine straight and step your feet up the wall with your knees bent so press your elbows down into the floor and place your palms on your back.To follow by Halasana (the plough) and Matsyasana (fish posture) will enhance the effect and provides a complete counter-stretch to Sarvangasana, so I strongly require all practitioners to finish these three postures as a set.
Benefits
It is the queen of all posture due to its good effect at balancing Hormones, maintain of circulatory and endocrine systems, ensuring the regeneration of cells, bones and bodily engergy. This posture is good for those people with asthma or cough badly. However, people with high blood pressure have to pay extra attention when practising this posture, I suggest to start with Halasana and hold for 3 minutes, then you can try Sarvangasana.

Salamba Sirsasana

Salamba Sirsasana
 Introduction
‘Sirsa’ refers to the head and ‘Salamba’ means ‘supported’. This is a basic posture with vertical stand; which means, all Yoga practitioners have to experience the pose by holding their legs together throughout and balance on their heads and forearms. It, at the first beginning, may look very difficult; but once you overcome the fear psychologically and balance well physically, I am sure everybody can do it with confidence.     
The Posture
Warm up is a must for this posture. I suggest to start with six sets of Surya Namaskar . According to my experience and Yoga rules, it will be better if you can finish 12 sets of Surya Namaskar before practising Salamba Sirsasana.
First, kneel down with your knees together and bring you hips back over your heels, place your elbows aligned under yours shoulders. Deeply interlace your fingers and creating a semicircle throught the palms. Place the crown of your head on the ground up close against yours hands, lengthen through the back of your neck and extend the back of your head into your palms, curl your toes under and straighten your legs then walk your feet towards your body until your torso and hips are raised vertically upwards. Hold your abdominal muscles contracted as you pull back in your hips, bend your knees and rasie your legs so that your thighs rest over your abdomen as you bring your torso into a vertical position. If you still building your confidence with the head balance, you may wish to spring  your feet up softly one at a time, gradually working towards springing them up together until your abdominal strenght and confidence develop enough for you to float your legs up and straighten them together.  Remember to keep on your breathing soft and deeper.  For beginners , hold 3-5 minutes; for practitioners, keep it for 15 minutes or above if you can keep yourself very stable.  To recover, reverse your path slowly and carefully then move into the child’s pose so that your head and neck are supported in line with the rest of your spine.
 There are two very important things you have to pay extra attention: 1. Have to keep balance;  2. Beware of your cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) especially those who had injured their spine before. Taking myself as an example, I had my C4 injured and almost lost my confidence to practice this posture until I can practise Salamba Sarvangasana well. So, keep balance and play safe are my advice to all Yoga beginners when trying out this posture.  
Benefits
Salamba Sirsasana is an indispensable part of a Yoga practice. It influence the functioning of the body in numerous ways; benefits are experienced on a physiological, metal and spiritual level, and this postures revitalize the entire system. It can help alleviate fatigue, insomnia, headaches, varicose vine, digestive problems and excess tension and anxiety. So that  this posture is often referred to as the king of all postures.

Gomukhasana ( Face of Light)

This beautiful pose makes wonders for its deep release of  hips and shoulders  simultaneously. It releases hidden tensions in joints , nerves and muscles. Staying in the pose may stimulate digestive fire hence to improve elimination.Overtime , this pose produce serenity, the natural state of a cow at pasture. (Go means cow/light) Eventually , that serenity unfolds into a radiant spiritual light.
instructions
begin by sitting in hero Pose
exhale sitting to the left side of your feet
inhale as you erect
exhale folding your right leg over the top of your left, bringing your feet to the sides of your hips , with your knees nearly on top of each other .
inhale stretching your left arm over your head , folding it so that your palm can reach down your spine.
exhale reaching your right hand across the back of your waist as far as possible . then flex your elbow so that your hand reaches down your left hand. if possible , grip fingers together .Keep the back of your hand towards your spine.
inhale expanding your chest as you firm the grip of your hands. Breathe steadily for 6 to 12 rhythmic breaths
exhale releasing your arms
inhale stretching your legs out to stick pose. Then reverse the pose.
Avoid sitting on your feet, rather keep them to the sides of your feet. It is more important to maintain an erect posture , its alright if you do not manage to to even touch your hands. If you DO NOT touch your hands , connect it with a towel . After a few breaths, you can slowly move your hands closer together to deepen the opening of your shoulders. AVOID stressing your lower shoulder , as it is in a vulnerable position that could stretch ligaments rather than muscles.