Light On Yoga - The bible of modern Yoga - its philosophy and practice


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Definitely a treasure among Yoga's books. It feels authentic, with its history, its root, its practice to seize and live every moment.


"The introduction to Yoga philosophy alone is worth the price of the book." ASTRAL PROJECTION

"I bow before the noblest: of sages, Patanjali, who brought serenity of mind by his work on yoga, clarity of speech by his work on grammar and purity of body by his work on medicine.,
"I salute Adfsvara (the Primeval Lord Siva) who taught first the science of Ha!ha Yoga-a science that stands out as a ladder for those who wish to scale the heights of Raja Yoga."

Foreword - by Yehudi Menuhin

Reduced to our own body, our first instrument, we learn to play it, drawing from it maximum resonance and harmony.
With unflagging patience we refine and animate every cell as we return daily to the attack, unlocking and liberating capacities otherwise condemned to frustration and death.

Each unfulfilled area of tissue and nerve, of brain or lung, is a challenge to our will and integrity, or otherwise a source of frustratkm and death.
Whoever has had the privilege of receiving Mr Iyengar's attention, or of wimessing the precision, refinement and beauty of his art, is introduced to that vision of perfection and innocence.

The practice of Yoga over the past fifteen years has convinced me that most of our fundamental attitudes to life have their physical counterparts in the body.
Thus comparison and criticism must begin with the align­ ment of our own left and right sides to a degree at which even finer adjustments are feasible : or strength of will will cause us to start by stretching the body from the toes to the top of the head in defiance of gravity.
Impetus and ambition might begin with the sense of weight and speed that comes with free-swinging limbs, instead of with the control of prolonged balance on foot, feet or hands, which gives poise.

Tenacity is gained by stretching in various Yoga postures for minutes at a time, while calmness comes with quiet, consistent breathing and the expan­ sion of the lungs.
Continuity and a sense of the universal come with the knowledge of the inevitable alternation of tension and relaxation in eternal rhythms of which each inhalation and exhalation constitutes one cycle, wave or vibration among the countless myriads which are the umverse.

What is the alternative? Thwarted, warped people condemning the order of things, cripples criticising the upright, autocrats slumped in expectant coronary attitudes, the tragic spectacle of people working out their own imbalance and frustration on others.
Yoga, as practised by Mr Iyengar, is the dedicated votive offering of a man who brings himself to the altar, alone and clean i n body and mind, focussed in attention and will, offering in simplicity and innocence not a burnt sacrifice, but simply himself raised to his own highest potential.
It is a technique ideally suited to prevent physical and mental illness and to protect the body generally, developing an inevitable sense of self­ reliance and assurance. By its very nature it is inextricably associated with universal laws : for respect for life, truth, and patience are all indis­ pensable factors in the drawing of a quiet breath, in calmness of mind and firmness ofwill.

In this lie the moral virtues inherent in Yoga. For these reasons it demands a complete and total effort, involving and forming the whole human being. No mechanical repetition is involved and no lip-service as in the case of good resolutions or formal prayers. By its very nature it is each time and every moment a living act.

Preface

Yoga is a timeless pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of man as a whole.
The first book to systematise this practice was the classic treatise the Yoga Sutras (or Aphorisms) of Patafljali dating from 200 BC.
my purpose is to describe as simply as possible the asanas (postures) and pranayamas (breathing disciplines).

All the ancient commentaries on yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a GURU (Master), and although my experience proves the wisdom of this rule, I have endeavoured with all humility in this book to guide the reader- both teacher and student- to a correct and safe method of mastering these asanas and prai].ayamas.

PART I - Introduction

What is Yoga?

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one's attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is the true union of our will with the will of God.
"the yoking of all the powers ofbody, mind and soul to God; it means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that Yoga l?re­ supposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly."

In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the most important authority on Yoga philosophy, Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the meaning of Yoga as a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow. It is said:
"When his mind, intellect and self (aharilkara) are under control, freed from restless desire, so that they rest in the spirit within, a man becomes a Yukta-one in communion with God. A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfil­ ment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga - a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow."

As a well cut diamond has many facets, each reflecting a different colour of light, so does the word yoga, each facet reflecting a different shade of meaning and revealing different aspects of the entire range of human endeavour to win inner peace and happiness.

The Bhagavad Gztii also gives other explanations of the term yoga and lays stress upon Karma Yoga (Yoga by action). It is said: 'Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called Yoga.'
Yoga has also been described as wisdom in work or skilful living amongst activities, harmony and moderation. 'Yoga is not for him who gorges too much, nor for him who starves himself. It is not for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who stays awake. By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in working and by concordance in sleeping and waking, Yoga destroys all pain and sorrow . '

The Kathopanishad describes Yoga thus : 'When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not-then, say the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and
mind has been defined as Yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion.' In the second aphorism of the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patafi.jali describes Yoga as 'chitta vrtti nirodhah'. This may be translated as the restraint (nirodhah) of mental (chitta) modifications (vrtti) or as suppression (nirodhah) of the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness (chitta). The word chitta denotes the mind in its total or collective sense as being composed of three categories: (a) mind (manas, that is, the individual mind having the power and faculty of attention, selection and rejection; it is the oscillating indecisive faculty of the mind) ; (b) intel­
ligence or reason (buddhi, that is, the decisive state which determines the distinction between things) and (c) ego (aharilkara, literally the 1-maker, the state which ascertains that 'I know').
The word vrtti is derived from the Sanskrit root v�t meaning to turn, to revolve, to roll on. It thus means course of action, behaviour, mode of being, condition or mental state. Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels. As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams and canals, creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and pro­ vides abundant power for industry; so also the mind, when controlled, provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human uplift.

The problem o f controlling the mind is not capable of easy solution, as borne out by the follow�ng dialogue in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gfta. Arjuna asks Sri Krishna :
"Krishna, you have told me of Yoga as a communion with Brahman (the Universal Spirit), which is ever one. But how can this be permanent, since the mind is so restless and inconsistent? The mind is impetuo�s
and stubborn, strong and wilful, as difficult to harness as the wind.' Sri Krishna replies : 'Undoubtedly, the mind is restless and hard to control. But it can be trained by constant practice (abhyasa) and by freedom from desire (vairagya). A man who cannot control his mind will find it difficult to attain this divine communion; but the self-controlled man can attain it if he tries hard and directs his energy by the right means."

THE STAGES OF YOGA