Today has been a gloriously lazy day off. We have barely left the flat, except for another circuit of the lake this evening. I’ve spent most of the day moving between the hammock, the sofa and the bed to find the coolest spot to continue reading Light on Life by BKS Iyengar. I’ve been meaning to finish this book for so long, but I always seem to start it then get distracted by something mundane like the laundry, then next time I pick it up I have to start from the beginning again – I reckon I could pretty much recite page one by now.
Anyway, I love the way Iyengar writes – he uses beautiful analogies and has an enviable ability to convey complex concepts in straightforward language. I also like the way he makes yoga relevant to normal ‘householders’ rather than making it seem like something only devout gurus can pursue through a life of sacrifice. In fact one of my favourite yoga/spirituality quotes comes from this book:
‘One’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow beings.‘
As I type this I am over two-thirds through, but I had to stop because there is so much in there; so many gems to appreciate, memorable quotes to remember and food for thought to ponder over. This is a book I’d recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the philosophy underpinning yoga. What a sad loss BKS Iyengar is to the yoga world, but at least he has left us with such a generous legacy of his accumulated experience and wisdom, expressed so eloquently.
I’m also still digesting some of the gems that Sharath imparted at the weekly conference yesterday. He also used some lovely, poetic analogies. Here are some of them (probably paraphrased slightly)- enjoy… 🙂
He talked first about the (mostly western) misconception of ashtanga yoga as being purely physical and restricted to the asanas. He reminded us that ashtanga yoga encompasses all the eight limbs of yoga, and you need to go through each of these to reach the final one, samadhi (bliss/enlightenment). As he said, ‘Samadhi is like a temple on top of a hill. You can’t just jump right up there, you have to walk up all the steps to reach it.’
He later continued on this theme by stating that we need the asanas to reach the higher levels of yoga, but if we stay caught up with the asanas, we’ll never see the true beauty of yoga.
‘If you’re caught up in asanas, you’re like a boat sailing endless circles of the world’s oceans; soon you’ll just think of the ocean as surface water. But as soon as you delve beneath the ocean’s surface, you see there’s a world of infinite beauty down there, that was there all the time.’
At one point, the baby of one of the attendees started screaming with joyful abandon, in that piercing but wonderful way that babies do. Rather than expressing irritation that his conference was being ambushed, Sharath instead said, ‘I need to meet this little guy,‘ and summoned the baby over, who ended up sat on his knee playing contentedly with his car keys whilst a collective gooey sigh spread through the shala. As Sharath gazed down at the (rather gorgeous) little baby, he said, ‘They are like gods. They don’t have any delusions in them.‘ And this little interlude felt like one of the best lessons he could have taught us just then – to try and get back to the guileless innocence and honesty of babies… 🙂
There were loads of other quotable analogies/prose but, in the spirit of a rather lazy day, I’ll leave it at that. Early night tonight as, unbelievably, a week has passed already and tomorrow it’s back to the rather early 6am led class, which I now know actually starts at 5:30am – this time I’ll be queuing up with the keenies… 😉