What is Yoga?
Generally, yoga is known to be a 5,000-year-old subject, meant for the refinement and emancipation of the human being. Its scope includes the emancipation of the human being at the physical, physiological, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual levels. Hence it is an art, science and a philosophy. The word yoga is derived from the sanskrit ‘yuj’ meaning to bind, join, or unite. It is basically the communion of the individual soul with the universal spirit. But that is the end of yoga. Not all humans, however, aspire for such lofty ends; not all go on to complete their PhDs. But all aspire for basic learning and/or health and thus yoga has something to give to everyone irrespective of age, class, creed, religion, gender and nationality.The subject and practices of yoga are said to have passed down from generations until sage Patanjali, said to have lived in the 5th century BC and known as the codifier of yoga, codified its subject-matter in his classic text, Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali. All Yoga teaching can be sourced to the Yoga Sutras. Our Guruji, Yogacharya B K S Iyengar’s, teachings have reaffirmed the traditional teachings of sage Patanjali.Guruji is said to have given to yoga what yoga itself gave him years ago – life. Today, yoga is one of the most widely-practiced subjects all over the globe, which is due in no small measure to the zeal and genius of this man. It has permeated the lifestyles of the famous and the common person, healthy and the ailing, old and the young, artists and educationists and ...well, anyone with an inclination to refine and enrich the capital we are born with.In commemoration of his life and work, his students call his discipline Iyengar Yoga.
And What Is True Health?
Health is that highly coveted commodity, which in today’s parlance, can be said to be the ‘neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride.’ It has been sought after through all generations by brutes and saints alike. Health is certainly not just absence from disease. It is a continuous endeavour to maintain the highly poised state of the body, mind and the self through life. Just as one cannot dip twice in the same waters of a flowing river, health also is a constantly flowing entity.Most important of all, true health cannot be bought from the chemist or a shop. It has to be earned by one’s only true capital: what one was born with.It is only when one starts looking within oneself, that an amazing fact comes forth: that the technologically superior 21st century human being can far easily communicate from Mumbai to Canada rather than from the head to the toes. Man realises that he is yet, unknown. For example, not many know the depth of the brain and body: the human body contains 12,000 million nerve cells linked by more than 10 million million connections. The air-sacs in the lungs, when opened out, would cover an area the size of a tennis court. Hence for evolution, the human being has to evolve the mind, the intelligence and emotions as also the physiological and neurological aspects. The science, art and philosophy of yoga serve to evolve every aspect of the human being from the physical and mental to the emotional and spiritual.This is the reason why Iyengar yoga begins with the asanas and pranayamas, which can be described as carrying out surgical procedures without cutting open the body. To facilitate such an intricate and in-depth purification process, there are innumerable poses to access the billions of cells in the body. There are standing poses, forward bends, back bends, balancings, abdominals, supine postures, inversions, and twistings. All these have their specific geometrical shapes and forms which create imprints in the body, mind and consciousness. Gradually and repeatedly, and when done over a period of time, the body starts responding to these fresh imprints and memorises them. It then craves for the poise and peace which floods the body after these yogic adjustments.When the world is busy bringing technology to 21st century standards, yoga endeavours to bring the Human Being into the 21st century. It has bestowed on humanity the ultimate gift – the ability to heal oneself.
Guruji’s introduction of props and other instruments is easily the single most important invention in the field of yoga.Iyengar yoga is today applied as a very important tool in the healing process: in therapeutic problems ranging from arthritis and asthma to cardiac problems and addictions. It is one of the tools for detoxification and de-addiction in the acclaimed Kripa Centre at Bandra. Iyengar Yoga is a recognised curriculum subject in the Inner London Educational Authority, the sports councils of various cities and districts in Britain, the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts and the Riverside University in the US.
Guruji, in his 75 years of teaching, has always been very innovative. Guruji pioneered yoga teaching to large groups of people and has taught at numerous conventions, the major ones being in Mauritius, Johannesburg in South Africa, San Francisco, San Diego and Boston in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, France, Spain and Britain. Over the years, these mega-classes (of 500 plus students) came to be an intrinsic part of all Iyengar yoga conventions.Those further interested in the subject should avail of Guruji’s masterpieces, Light On Yoga, Light On Pranayama, Light On The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali, Tree of Yoga, Art Of Yoga and his latest book, Light On Life (2005).