B.K.S. Iyengar, hailed as “the Michelangelo of yoga” (BBC) and considered by many to be the most important living yoga master, has spent much of his life introducing the modern world to the ancient practice of yoga. Yoga’s popularity is soaring, but its widespread acceptance as an exercise for physical fitness and the recognition of its health benefits have not been matched by an understanding of the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development that the yogic tradition can also offer. In Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar explains this new and more complete understanding of the yogic journey.
Here Iyengar explores the yogic goal to integrate the different parts of the self (body, emotions, mind and soul); the role that the yoga postures and breathing techniques play in our search for wholeness; the external and internal obstacles that keep us from progressing along the path; and how yoga can transform our lives and help us to live in harmony with the world around us. For the first time, Iyengar uses stories from his own life, humor, and examples from modern culture to illustrate the profound gifts that yoga offers. Written with the depth of this sage’s great wisdom, Light on Life is the culmination of a master’s spiritual genius, a treasured companion to his seminal Light on Yoga.
If this book is to lay any claim to authenticity, it must make one point clear above all others. It is this: By persistent and sustained practice, anyone and everyone can make the yoga journey and reach the goal of illumination and freedom. Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus lie in the hearts of all. They are not film stars, mere idols of adulation. They are great inspirational figures whose example is there to be followed. They act as our role models today. Just as they reached Self-Realization, so may we.
Many of you may worry that you are unable to meet the challenges that lie ahead. I want to assure you that you can. I am a man who started from nowhere; I was heavily disadvantaged in many ways. After much time and effort, I began to reach somewhere. I literally emerged from darkness to light, from mortal sickness to health, from crude ignorance to immersion in the ocean of knowledge by one means alone, namely by zealous persistence in the art and science of yoga practice (sadhana). What held good for me will hold good for you too. Today you also have the benefit of many gifted yoga teachers.
When I began yoga, there was, I am sorry to say, no wise, kind teacher to lead me. In fact my own Guru refused to answer any of my innocent inquiries on yoga. He did not instruct me as I do my students, offering them step-by-step guidance in an asana. He would simply demand a posture and leave it to me or his other students to figure out how it could be realized. Perhaps that stimulated some stubborn aspect of my nature, which allied to unshakable faith in the subject of yoga made me burn to go on. I am ardent and passionate, and maybe I needed to show the world that I was not worthless. But far more than that, I wanted to find out who I was. I wanted to understand this mysterious and marvelous "yoga," which could reveal to us our innermost secrets, as equally as it revealed those of the universe around us and our place in it as joyful, suffering, puzzled human beings.