“After all what do techniques stand for: they stand as an essential ingredient to achieve precision, which is nothing but the taste of divinity.” —B.K.S. Iyengar
It’s hard to overstate the importance of B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga. At 544 pages long and with 600+ photographs, this encyclopedic book on yoga was the first of its kind and has become the go-to reference text for asana technique. It took Iyengar nearly five years to write and photograph detailed descriptions of 200 asanas and 12 breathing exercises.
Light on Yoga has inspired generations of teachers and students. Printed in 28 different languages, this book allows students around the world to benefit directly from Iyengar’s insight and teachings, and is in part responsible for the popularity of yoga outside of India.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Light on Yoga’s first release. To celebrate this special occasion, Adeline Yoga will be hosting a special 3-day workshop with senior teacher Carolyn Belko entitled Clarity: Celebrating 50 Years of Light on Yoga. Intended for level II-and-above students and teachers wishing to deepen their understanding of Iyengar yoga, this workshop seeks to shed new light on intermediate level poses and honor the sacred transference of knowledge from teacher to student.
About the teacher:
A devoted pupil of B. K .S. Iyengar, Carolyn has regularly gone to Pune to study at the source, and has received Senior Int. III Certification from Guruji. With his blessings she opened the Iyengar Yoga Center of North County in Encinitas, California. She has been training teachers throughout the west and has been staff of the IYA-Southern California training program since 1997.
Studio owner Heather Haxo Phillips sat down with Carolyn to talk about Light on Yoga, B.K.S.’s legacy, and Carolyn’s own journey with Iyengar yoga.
Heather: Light on Yoga is celebrating 50 years since it was published. Why is Light on Yoga important?
Carolyn: Light on Yoga is the guiding light of our guru. It contains all the ins, outs, above, below, and sideways—all the ways of how to perform the asana, how to approach the asana, and how to sequence the asana. We even have the very essence of the asana thanks to his pictures. Every photograph in the book, including meditation and savasana, was choreographed by B.K.S. Iyengar through the lens so that we could capture a glimpse of his soul emanating through the pose.
How has Light on Yoga affected you?
Firstly, I cannot imagine life without it. Both Light on Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita are the references guiding me on my path. When I open Light on Yoga, I cannot help but dive deep, whether that be in the practice, study, or devotion to the path of yoga.
Remember that in the beginning, few people were into yoga. Light on Yoga was literally our only resource. As Guruji said often, “a good book is better than a poor teacher.”
Do you have a particular memory of B.K.S. Iyengar?
The last time I saw him was very special. I was there for a discussion he had with Father Francis Clooney, a Jesuit priest who uses Guruji’s books in his classes at the Center of World Religions at Harvard. Guruji frequently said to him that he too was a “bhaktin”—yoga was a subject of devotion for him—and one should watch out for intellectual intoxication.
What is your vision of how Iyengar yoga will progress in the decades to come? If we practice and read his works sincerely, and study with those who were touched by him, then the internalization of the method will continue for years to come. Now that Guruji is in another realm, it is up to us to share his approach. The spiritual nature of yoga that Guruji so beautifully encapsulated in Light on Yoga must shine through our practice and teaching.
Register here to reserve your spot in Carolyn’s workshop September 16-18!
“The entire body becomes the base for meditation…The body is a temple. That atma (soul) needs a clean place to live in. That is why the book shows a detailed technique for the dweller of the body to live contentedly.”
—B.K.S. Iyengar on Light on Yoga