Time magazine has named B.K.S Iyengar as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The BBC hailed Iyengar as ‘the Michelangelo of yoga.’ These are impressive references, but let’s look at his latest book ‘Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom.’
It is not just another book about asanas and detailed postural alignment, but a personal account of the yogic journey as a spiritual path. The aim of yoga is ‘oneness,’ or what Iyengar calls ‘integration’: to become the microcosm within the overall cosmos. ‘Yoga is the rulebook for playing the game of life. The game is tough, and we need to train hard.’ Our tasks are to understand what it means to be human, finding ourselves placed between earth and sky.
‘The inward journey’ is the first chapter of Iyengar’s book and lays the foundation for all that follows: He then introduces the five Koshas, the sheaths of human existence, as a model for human evolution. Each of the five sheaths overlays and obscures the more subtle awareness that is interior to it. The five Koshas are:
- Physical body – Annayama Kosha
- Energy body – Pranayama Kosha
- Mental body – Manomaya Kosha
- Wisdom body – Vijnanamaya Kosha
- Bliss body – Anandamaya Kosha
One needs to integrate these five koshas to reach wholeness fully. Before Iyengar elucidates each Kosha in its spiritual significance and related yogic practice in the following chapters, the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are introduced.
For the dedicated and informed yoga practitioner, the book’s principal value does not lie in the presentation of new concepts, but the integration and contextualization of the yogic path and philosophy with the experience of a true master.
Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom is a very worthwhile read for any yoga practitioner and spiritual seeker alike, and I do highly recommend it.