Revisiting “Light on Yoga”

Recently, I made a promise to revisit B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” at least once per week.  When is the last time you flipped through this seminal work?  Have you ever?  It’s absolutely worth your time to at least pick it up and browse.

Interestingly, a lot of us read “Light on Yoga” when we were novice yogis, or when we were required to read it as part of our Anusara Immersion classes.  I think that when I first read it, I was mostly congratulating myself for knowing a lot more Sanskrit pose names and shapes than I thought I knew.  I also remember being struck by the unique and incredibly flexible body of Mr. Iyengar in the photographs.  And I recall glossing over phrases like “this pose should be held for 15-20 minutes” and moving on before I had much of a chance to let that sink into my mind (and thus into my practice…too scary!).

Rereading “Light on Yoga” this month has been a very different experience for me.  This morning I was impressed by the healing attributes ascribed to so many poses – even the most basic ones, that we take for granted.  Take this one – trikonasana (triangle pose):

“This asana tones up the leg muscles, removes stiffness in the legs and hips, corrects any minor deformity in the legs and allows them to develop evenly.  It relieves backaches and neck sprains, strengthens the ankles, and develops the chest.” (p. 64)

Wow!  That’s a lot, for a relatively straightforward, beginner pose.  If you think about it though, all those benefits make sense.  Five poses in the first 40 pages of the book “reduce fat around the hips” and just as many “make the legs more shapely” (that sounds like yoga class marketing waiting to happen there!)  About half of them “tone the abdominal organs” and/or “ease digestive troubles.”  Within the first 50 pages of asana descriptions, just about every chronic ailment and pain is covered by at least one, if not many, poses.

With all these benefits; it’s no wonder I generally feel very healthy nearly all the time!  With a mixture of just 20-30 poses, you’re likely to get a well-rounded health boost.  And with a broader repertoire of 50+ poses…well, it seems like health and vigor are practically guaranteed!

My favorite comment this week, that I’m going to try later today – for uttanasana:

“Any depression in the mind is removed if one holds the pose for two minutes or more.” (p.93)

Any other takers?  Try it and let me know.


~ by bridgetannlyons on March 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “Revisiting “Light on Yoga””

  1. Hello Bridget,

    I am currently in San Carlos, Mexico for about 6 weeks and I am using this time to deepen my practice and work on my teaching skills. I am studying Light on Yoga daily, and have started the 30 week long Asana Course #1. I have covered the first 8 weeks of the curriculum in 8 days. But now I am challenged by Karnapidasana “ear pain pose”. Iyengar states not to do Karnapidasana until one can stay in Halasan for 3 minutes! Which I am working on!

    After I practice I read about each pose I had done. I am amazed of the fine detail, such as, sankrit meaning of the name, history of the pose, how long one must stay in a pose but also the physical and mental benefits of each pose as well.

    We are all very lucky to have B.K.S. Iyengar still teaching us about yoga through “Light on Yoga”.


    • Wow, Yvonne, I had no idea you were going to be able to take some concentrated time to practice and study this spring. Way to go! And what good timing that we are both re-investigating the same book at the same time, and finding new nuggets of knowledge. Good luck with karnapidasana….I am working with sayanasa, a.k.a. elbow pain pose (my name, not his!). Keep me posted, and see you when you get back!

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