When asked to describe his teaching philosopy, B.K.S. Iyengar said ...
" I just try to get the physical body in line with the mental body, the mental body in line with the intellectual body, and the intellectual body with the spiritual body so they are balanced. It’s just pure traditional yoga, from our ancestors, from our gurus, from Patanjali. "
Patanjali lived in India over 2,200 years ago. A sage and a scholar, he wrote classical texts on Sanskrit grammar and medicine, as well as his Yoga Sutras, the first written statement of yogic philosophy. Before that, yoga followed an oral tradition, passed on personally from teacher to student.
In 196 succinct aphorisms, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe the working of the mind and emotions, and the path to fulfilment. In the first chapter yoga is defined as “the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”. This famous phrase encapsulates both the practice and the ultimate aim of yoga: the means are just as important as this end.
Patanjali defines these means as the ‘eight limbs’ (astanga) or stages of yoga. Though his eightfold path is sequential, its limbs are seamlessly interwoven. The first two, yama and niyama, offer guidance on personal conduct, both in relation to others and towards oneself. In total, there are ten precepts for living ethically, with potentially transformative effects.
" Yoga makes a sincere practitioner into an integrated personality. It develops a feeling of oneness between man and nature, between man and man, and between man and his Maker, thus permitting the experience of a feeling of identity with the spirit that pervades all creation."
To B.K.S. Iyengar, yoga is “meditation in action”. His teaching combines all eight elements in asana practice, which helps us explore and experience the rest. This brings us back into contact with the outside world, awakened by the basic understanding that everything and everyone are interconnected.