“When I practice I am a philosopher, when I teach I am a scientist, when I demonstrate I am an artist.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Mr Iyengar has been practicing yoga for more than 70 years and his dedication to the exploration of yoga in his own body has lead him to become the most influential person to yoga in the West. He introduced his style of yoga to America in the 60’s. He has influenced the way we think about alignment and precision in practising yoga asanas. He also introduced the use of props as learning tools, facilitating the practice of yoga for many people with injuries, physical disabilities or lack of strength. The use of props was introduced as a therapeutic tool by Mr. Iyengar. Their use also supports the intelligence of the body to perform postures even when it is not supple or flexible. The constant practice of yoga asanas in that way contributes to the yogi becoming healthy at a physical, mental and emotional level.
In the Iyengar tradition the asanas are taught not only thinking about the alignment of bones and muscles, but also to align the body and mind.
“The purpose or goal of asana is to align and harmonize the physical body and all the layers, or sheaths, of the subtle emotional, mental and spiritual body. This is integration. But how does one align these layers and experience integration? How does one find such profound transformation is what from the outside may look simply like stretching or twisting the body into unusual positions? It begins with awareness.”
Mr Iyengar inspired himself on the sutra I.35 “visayavati va pravrttih utpanna manasah sthiti nibandhani”. The translation of which is “One may equally attain an exalted state of consciousness by becoming totally engrossed, with dedication and devotion in an object of interest”. When asked to comment on his yoga being physical, Mr Iyengar explained we can not separate the body from the mind. When the mind is totally focused in the body, it becomes a meditation in action. The mind becomes focused and clarity prevails.
The practice of asanas is not something isolated that you can label just physical practice. Asanas when practiced with intelligence and awareness takes the practitioner to another level, the level of contemplation, concentration and meditation.
“As leaves move in the wind, your mind moves with your breath”. B.K.S. Iyengar