TROML Extract: ‘YOGA IS’ from B.K.S. Iyengar’s ‘Light on Life’ Book

What is Life, and what is Yoga and how does it enhance one’s life?

I guess that is what I was thinking when I picked up a copy of B.K.S. Iyengar’s ‘Light on Life’ book when I was in his studio on West 22nd Street in New York City. All I can say is that I was led there and given the book as a gift. Looking back I can say now that it is reminiscent of when I picked up that People’s Magazine in 1988. On the cover was Suzanne Somers and the words “Children of Alcoholics.” Today, I can say openly and honestly, with respect and admiration, that my father had alcoholism. A disease, not a lack of willpower or character, but a disease that many people do not realize they have or the impact it is having on their lives or the lives of those they love. My Dad beat the disease and beat the odds, living a sober life, for the last twenty-five years of his life. Like that People’s Magazine, this book is surely one that will change my life immensely for the better.

I started doing yoga twenty years ago as a form of relaxation and to improve and maintain my flexibility for golf. Yoga is so much more, YOGA IS…

Here is my ‘TROML Extract’ and the spiritual and yogic insight into B.K.S. Iyengar and his shedding ‘Light on Life’ book! TROML Baby!

On the eve of a New Year, four months later, I have read and digested, to some extent, the Iyengar perspectives of life. Having done so and wanting to share its essence with others, the childhood game of ‘hide-and-seek’ comes to my mind. Remember ‘Olly, Olly, In Come Free’ or whatever it was? A catchphrase stuck in my mind like the McDonald’s Big Mac tune. ‘Olly, Olly, In Come Free’ was chanted to let friends who were hiding that it was time to come out into the open without losing the game. That the position of the sides in a game has changed—as in who is hiding and who is seeking—or that the game is entirely over.

Is it time for you to come out of your self?

Olly olly oxen free. olly olly umphrey, olly olly ee, outtie outtie let’s be free, olly olly oxen tree, all-y all-y all set free, All-Ye All-Ye In Come Free, olly olly in come free, all ye, all ye outs in freeall the outs in free, or the German phrase alle, alle, auch sind frei (all, all, are also free)—“ollyoxalls.”

Confusing yet we all understood as children. Yet are we isolated and separate as adults?

However we say it or do it, now is the time to come out and get back into the game of life!

Whatever we yelled out as a child, let’s yell out now as an adult. Life is too short. The past is the past. This is a New Year!

All spiritual beings let go of the past and focus on the future. That is my New Year’s Wish for you! To call you out and wish you well as you focus on ‘The Rest of Your Life!’


Here are my Splendid Spiritual Self from B.K.S. Iyengar’s ‘Light on Life’ book (2005) when reference was made, either explicitly or implicitly, as to what ‘YOGA IS…’

I hope you that will join me on this Inward Journey…

With gratitude and all credit given to B.K.S. Iyengar and the Iyengar Institute NYC.


‘Light on Life;’ Preface & Introduction

 “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 (of the soul, here and beyond) 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.”   (Preface; Page ix)

“YOGA IS… to attain the integrity of Oneness—Oneness with ourselves and as a consequence Oneness with all that lies beyond ourselves. We become the harmonious microcosm in the universal macrocosm. Oneness, what I often call integration, is the foundation for wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom.”   (Introduction; Page xiv)

“YOGA IS… an inner peace… an inner serene core of one’s being that is never out of touch with the unchanging, eternal infinite.”   (Introduction; Page xiv)

“YOGA IS… the rule book for playing the game of Life, but in this game no one needs to lose.”   (Introduction; Page xvi)

“YOGA IS… the release of the creative potential of Life. It does this by establishing a structure for self-realization, by showing how we can progress along the journey, and by opening a sacred vision of the Ultimate, of our Divine Origin, and final Destiny. The Light that yoga sheds on Life is something special. It is transformative. It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowledge and elevates it to wisdom.”   (Introduction; Page xxi)


‘Light on Life;’ Chapter 1: The Inward Journey

“YOGA IS… an Inward Journey to allow the inner core (soul) to reveal itself.”   (Page 3)

“YOGA IS… a discovery of our immortal Self.”   (Page 5)

“YOGA IS… Stability: The Physical Body (amnamaya kosa); Vitality: The Energy Body (pranamaya kosa); Clarity: The Mental Body (manomaya kosa); Wisdom: The Intellectual Body (vijnanamaya kosa); and Bliss: The Divine Body (amandamaya).”   (Page 6)

“YOGA IS… exploring the relationship between Prakrti and Purusa, between Nature and (Universal) Soul.”   (Page 9)

“YOGA IS… eight petals that reveal themselves progressively to the practitioner. These are external, ethical disciplines (yama), internal ethical observances (niyama), poses (asana), breath control (pranayama), sensory control and withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and blissful adsorption (samadhi). We call these the petals of yoga as they join together like the petals of a lotus flower to form one beautiful whole.   (Page 10)

“YOGA IS… the highest experience of freedom—Oneness—the supreme reality of unity.”   (Page 16)

“YOGA IS… ‘Living in Freedom,’ seeing how the free or self-realized man or woman lives in the world, and seeing what we can learn for how each of us lives not at some ultimate destination but each step along the journey inward and the journey of life onward.”   (Page 18)

“YOGA IS… an inner quest for growth and evolution, or ‘involution.’”   (Page 19)


‘Light on Life;’ Chapter 2: STABILITY—The Physical Body (Asana)

“YOGA IS… to understand and then integrate our body with our breath, with our mind, with our intelligence, with our consciousness, and with our core. In this way, one can experience true integration and reach the ultimate freedom.”   (Page 23)

“YOGA IS… the qualities of purity and sensitivity…”   (Page 25)

“YOGA IS… a beginning to harmony and integration with the world we live in…   (Page 26)

“YOGA IS… a state of self-reliant contentment…”   (Page 26)

“YOGA IS… beautiful as well as Divine…”   (Page 27)

“YOGA IS… the search for the inner light as well as inner Beauty, infinity, and liberation…”   (Page 27)

“YOGA (Asana; Stability—The Physical Body) IS… perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit…”   (Page 27)

“YOGA IS… the teaching that awareness and intelligence must permeate the body… we must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind… action is movement with intelligence…”   (Page 28)

Photo Credit: Iyengar Yoga Centre Sofia

Photo Credit: Iyengar Yoga Centre Sofia

“YOGA IS… (when} the sensitive awareness of the body and the intelligence of the brain and heart are in harmony… the brain must be willing to listen to the body… the intelligence of the body is a fact. It is real. The intelligence of the brain is only imagination… inner cooperation… you are one; you are complete. You exist without the feeling of existence… the body must tell one what to do, not the brain… you must learn to move the brain a bit more slowly so that is follows the body… let the body be the doer, the brain the observer…”   (Pages 29-31)

“YOGA IS… (when) action and analysis synchronize (the real meaning of knowledge)… the acuity of observation… be self-aware, not self-conscious… self-awareness is the opposite of self-consciousness… you are aware of what you are doing without ego or pride… if you do not know the silence of the body, you cannot understand the silence of the mind… an interior conscious state… you watch yourself from the inside… do things rhythmically with a calm mind…”   (Pages 31-32)

“YOGA IS… extension and expansion… dynamic extension… extending out dynamically through to the periphery of your body… expansion is from the intelligence (intellectual and emotional) of the heart… extension is attention… and expansion is awareness… they originate in the core of one’s being… one’s center… the divine core…”   (Pages 33-34)

YOGA IS… extension and expansion bring space, and space brings freedom. Freedom is precision, and precision is divine. From freedom of the body comes freedom of the mind and then the Ultimate Freedom…”   (Page 34)

“YOGA IS… spiritual yoga… while stretching, you must always create space and extend from your center. Compression is bondage, and expansion is freedom… and freedom allows for relaxation… perfection is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached (Patanjali, Second Sutra)…”   (Pages 35-36)

Photo Credit: Bab Zouina

Photo Credit: Bab Zouina

“YOGA IS… exertion and relaxation… the ego is an unrelenting task master… when one extends and relaxes, there is no oscillation of mind or body. Balance of activity and passivity transforms the active brain into a witness… begin your asana by releasing the breath till you feel a quiet state of silence in the cells and self. Inhalation is tension, exhalation is freedom… silence in action, relaxation in action… look at the Soul, not the Ego…   (Pages 36-38)

“YOGA IS… (when) the light and life of our vision shines everywhere…”   (Page 39)

“YOGA IS… lightness in the body and freedom in the mind… it is because your mind shrinks that your soul shrinks…”   (Page 40)

“YOGA IS… seeking the balance of polarity, not the antagonism of duality… in all asanas, ascend to descend and descend to ascend…”   (Page 41)

“YOGA IS… achieving balance at every level of our body and our being… right tension is healthy tension. You have to bring everything to life in your body… never be rigid in motion, only be rigid after you have acquired the position…”   (Pages 41-42)

“YOGA IS… perfect balance… one must find balance… balance is the state of the present—the here and now. If you balance in the present you are living in Eternity. When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present… (Pages 42-43)

“YOGA IS… balance and integration in the three dimensions of space, but we also find balance and integration in the fourth dimension of time… balance is in every layer of our being… three qualities of nature—body, mind, and soul—must be balanced in your asana practice; translated as solidity, dynamism, and luminosity…”   (Pages 43-44)

“YOGA IS… your inward journey to the Universal Soul…”   (Page 44)

“YOGA IS… tenacity and perseverance, which is a spiritual attitude toward yoga. This is also the spiritual attitude towards life… in the struggle alone, there is knowledge… the inevitable pains and afflictions of life… only when there is pain will you see the light. Pain is your guru… try to not run from the pain but to move through and beyond it… To get freedom, you have to bear the pain… this is the cultivation of tenacity and perseverance…”   (Page 47)

“YOGA IS… meant for the purification of body and its exploration as well as for the refinement of the mind… The challenge of yoga is to go beyond our limits—within reason. We continually expand the frame of the mind by using the canvas of the body… If the practice of (yoga) today damages the practice of (yoga) tomorrow, it is not correct practice…”   (Page 50)

“YOGA IS… the yogic path… is really a desire for God, the instinct that draws us toward the dream of perfection… Perfection is ultimately only with God… Let the goal be to reach Perfection, but be content with a little progress toward perfection every day… Perfecting: Always Be Happy with the Smallest Improvement…”   (Page 54)

“YOGA IS… to create within yourself the feeling of beauty, liberation, and infinity. These can be experienced only in the present… inner integration… Integrity means one. One is the number that can go into all other numbers. The fully sensitive and sensible being becomes not a “somebody” but the common denominator of humanity…”   (Page 58)

“YOGA IS… for cultivating the head and heart… Patanjali talked about friendliness, compassion, gladness, and joy… Friendliness and grace are two qualities that are essential for the yoga student… you have to create love and affection for your body, for what it can do for you… this love must radiate from you to others… You must purge yourself before finding faults in others. When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake. That is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement…”   (Page 59-60)

“YOGA IS… Divine Yoga: Do the Asana with Your Soul… we are working from the outer to get closer to the inner reality of our existence… we work from the periphery to the core… we must not forget that the innermost part of our being is also trying to help us. It wants to come out to the surface and express itself…

Much more to come… Happy New Year!!!


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