Astanga Yoga is an ancient wisdom,
the greatest and noblest gift that
Sage Patafijali has offered mankind.
Its wisdom is timeless and is as valid today
as it was centuries ago. Its beauty lies in
the application of its principles that can
be adopted and adapted in discovering
the finer aspects of man according to
one’s physical and intellectual capacity.
The world-renowned Guru BKS Iyengar
provides a lucid explanation on the
exposition and application of the
principles of Sage Patanjali in
Light on Astanga Yoga.
BKS Iyengar is considered as one of the
foremost Guru on Yoga, who revived
interest in the ancient subject and
popularised it across the world. His
writings are all based on his personal
experiences. His book Light on Yoga
written more than 50 years ago is often
referred to as the Bible of Yoga. He is an
author of over 30 books and most
In 1996, I gave a talk on Light on Astanga Yoga at the
Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute and YOG
published this in 1999 for the benefit of the students of
At present, Allied Publishers have taken the rights to
publish it and I am delighted to offer this treatise on Astanga
Yoga through my publishers so that it not only benefits
its practitioners but also those who are unacquainted with
the subject to get an overall view of this yogic philosophy
that is hidden in the yogic texts.
As it was first published verbatim, I thought that I
should re-read the original, revise and edit so that the
readers grasp the subject with an uninterrupted flow of
In order to understand the importance of yoga
and its values, man needs to have a good background
regarding the origin of the universe (macrocosm) and the
world and their relationship with man (microcosm) and
God. Without this essential background of the science
of cosmology, it may become difficult to understand the
structure and the constitution of man and the role that
yoga plays in uniting the macrocosm (brahmanda) with the
microcosm (pinddnda) as human being is regarded as the
representation in miniature form of the universe.
According to sémkhya darsana (philosophy), God is the
seed of the universe and knowledge. He created purusa, the
soul, and prakrti, the nature with its twenty-four principles.
These principles of nature mould and blend with its three
gunas or qualities, namely, sattva (illumination), rajas
(vibration or motion) and tamas (inertia or laziness). See
table one in the text.
The hub of man’s life is interdependent upon these
gunas wherein all the twenty-four principles of nature
of man revolve around them. Here Astanga yoga comes
handy in order to put an end to this revolving wheel of
It means that yoga is the union of the individual soul
with the Universal Soul. Yoga acts as an instrument in
associating (samyoga), union of nature (prakriz) with the Soul
or the Self (purusa) in order to bring this union. Hence this
union (samyoga) of nature with God is called yoga.
Light on Asténga Yoga explains this union through
the perfection in dsanas and prandydmas along with the
principles of yama and niyama which help to eradicate
the divisions and differences between body and mind,
and mind and Self, so that the sadhaka or the practitioner
becomes only a seer and lives in a state of firmness and
serenity forever "tatah dvandvah anabhighatah" (Y.S., 11.48).
The dualities between body (prakrii) and Soul (purusa)
ceases in this precise state of sadhana making the sddhaka
live in a state of beatitude as he has built up the union
between the intelligence of the consciousness that sprouts
from nature to that of the shining intelligence of the Soul
"sattva purusayoh suddhi samye kaivalyam iti ||" (Y.S., I1T.56).
This is the real health, real awareness and freedom
from all bondage. From then on he ceases to do or act,
that causes no pains, sorrows and afflictions on himself or
on mankind. "tatah klesa karma nivrttth ||" (Y.S., [V.30).
According to the yoga sutras of Patafyjali, the subject is
divided and discussed in two parts. The first part deals
with the principles of Astanga Yoga and the second part
explains its application in the daily practices.
I have tried my best in unfolding the subtle parts of yoga
so that the readers savour the flavour of yoga like seeing
and enjoying the blooming petals of the flowers from a
healthy tree. At the same time, the subject matter carries
sub-titles so that one can refer and re-refer according to
the topic of interest and need. Also I have included the
tables and sutras which are referred to in the text.
I feel that this book is special and unique, defining
lucidly the vrttis, klesas and antardyas at various levels with
fresh ideas for readers to grasp and reach the finest state
I am indebted to Allied Publishers in presenting this
work to a larger group of readers with new thoughts on
yoga which may possibly ignite their zeal further in their
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