The first 4 chapters in Tree of Yoga, our Summer Book Read for SBG, BKS Iyengar basically lays out the definition of yoga and gives you the basis of how he fits the 8 “limbs” or stages of yoga into this tree form. Even in the first paragraph, the practical approach that Iyengar takes through yoga is evident. He does not ignore the spiritual path, does not deny the root of the practice, but realizes that the understanding of the subject must be broken down and approached in a manner that ALL can take in.
East or West, North or South, it does not matter your culture, your religion, your language, you can practice. To say “I can’t because of ___________” means “The fundamental disease – that of imagining that you are defective in something – has already set in.” (page 15 TOY)
Yoga has so many levels and forms and each individual is tasked on their own path to discipline themselves, reflect from the outside in and the inside out. But, pretty quickly we are reminded in Tree of Yoga that the mind and the breath are the keys to this journey…”The mind can go in many directions in a split second. Its movements are very fast and varied. But the breath cannot go in many directions at once. It has only one path: inhalation and exhalation…By controlling the breath you are controlling the consciousness, and by controlling the consciousness you bring rhythm to the breath.” (pgs 4-5)
Through our practice to “still the fluctuations of the consciousness” (Yoga Sutra I.2) we are guided by so many before us, but in the end we must truly find our Self…through our own actions, our own breath, our own mind.
Yoga is a “Sarvabhauma” – a universal culture – so as you embark on maybe your first journey into the land of yoga philosophy and possibly terminology and language you are not used to…Iyengar urges you to “look into the essence and do not be misled by the names” (pg 16)
But furthermore, in your own personal journey, I urge you to take that advice personally…look into your own essence and try (even if for brief moments) to disregard all the “names” you have for yourself or that others have for you…underneath you will find a truth more powerful than you could ever imagine!
HAPPY READING !!