After spending the day with good friends Robb Most & Joe Zelan, Robb & I got talking about Iyengar and his recent passing at age 95.
I thought I'd share some of what I've learned from this wise man. The method of yoga I am trained in is Anusara. The founder of Anusara was trained for many years in Iyengar yoga. He took what he felt was the best of Iyengar and added heart themes and vinyasa and an elegant system of five universal principles of alignment. I have benefitted for many years from those deep Iyengar roots.
Having read several of his books, I will dispel some of the wisdom I gained. He reminds us that the ultimate goal of yoga is to realize the brilliance of your soul. He helped me realize that he who is in contact with the very core of his being perceives the divinity in all persons.
Iyengar's thoughts on God (from The Tree of Yoga): "I am sometimes asked whether it it necessary for a yoga practitioner to believe in God. My reply is very simple: 'If you don't believe in God, do you believe in your own existence? Since you believe in your own existence, that means you want to improve yourself for the betterment of your life. Then do so, and perhaps it may lead you to see the higher light. So there is no need for you to believe in God, but you have to believe in yourself' ".
I love his explanation on breath: "If you look at breath in the form of the respiratory system, it is physical. But when the action of the breath on the mind is studied and understood, it becomes spiritual. Pranayama is the bridge between the physical and the spiritual. Hence, pranayama is the hub of yoga".
He tells yoga teachers, " If you wish to help others through the healing power of yoga, you have to put yourself at the service of the art".
I'll close with this final thought from Light on Life: "You do not need to seek freedom in some distant land, for it exists within your own body, heart, mind, and soul. Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you must choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it".
Thank you Mr. Iyengar