WHAT IS YOGA?
This is an excerpt from Light on Life, written by B.K.S. Iyengar.
“As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of a divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon the earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.
So many seek this greater Truth in the heavens, but it lies much closer than the clouds. It is within us and can be found by anyone on the Inward Journey.
What most people want is the same. Most people simply want physical and mental health, understanding and wisdom, and peace and freedom.
Often our means of pursuing these basic human needs come apart at the seams, as we are pulled by the different and often competing demands of human life.
Yoga, as it was understood by its sages, is designed to satisfy all these human needs in a comprehensive, seamless whole.
Its goal is nothing less than to attain the integrity of oneness — oneness with ourselves and as a consequence onenesswith all that lies beyond ourselves. We become the harmonious microcosm in the universal macrocosm. Oneness, what I often call integration, is the foundation for wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom.” — B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, Introduction, p. xiv
WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA?
B.K.S. Iyengar (1918 – 2014) is the founder of the yoga style we now call “Iyengar yoga”. He, however, did not call his practice “Iyengar Yoga” but rather “Patanjala Yoga.”
This means that he followed the teachings of Sage Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, to practice the eightfold path of yoga as a form of Raja—or Royal—Yoga, the chief way to integrate the individual self with Universal Self.
In over 80 years of teaching and self-study, B.K.S. Iyengar exemplified how to use the physical, physiological, emotional, intellectual, and transcendent aspects of human life, to reach integration.
His style of practice and teaching strongly emphasizes the use of:
- External and internal alignment as a way to use habits, preconceptions and unknown parts of ourselves as gateways for deep spiritual insight
- Props such as blocks and chairs to make the experience of the essence of the pose accessible to a wide variety of people
- Rigorous honesty, energy, and self-study
- The use of asana as a physical form of prayer that purifies body, speech and mind towards our highest purpose