The book “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar is a wonderful item to have on your bookshelf. Written by the yoga legend, B.K.S. Iyengar, the man who founded the style of yoga known as “Iyengar”. This book is like a super guide for yoga, detailed and filled with all the good stuff. This particular version is amazing, bigger in size and very easy to read. If you’re a yoga beginner or an advanced yogi, this book is worth a spot on your bookshelf. Here are 7 Reasons to Read “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar.
Here is a gallery of images, to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about in the points below:
1) It’s a great way to learn yoga at home
While going to the yoga studio or gym for a class is great, doing some self-practice is also a good idea. By practicing yoga at home, even if for just 2 mornings a week on the same days, you start to build a very healthy habit. Doing yoga regularly has many health benefits, for the body and mind.
If you’re a yoga beginner, practising by yourself may seem daunting or overwhelming. Having someone to guide you through your yoga session is a lot easier. And so, you can help yourself out by either following some beginner yoga videos online (there are lots), or you could use a book like this.
I have spent the last year in particular, doing a lot of online yoga videos. I decided to exercise at home this year so that I could be more regular and form a real habit. Instead of being on and off the exercise wagon, and seeing little results.
And so, for months I have been doing online yoga videos, which are amazing. But then, one day I felt like a change and pulled out this Light on Yoga book by the legend B.K.S Iyengar. I’ve carried this book around with me for years, pulling it out every now and again and doing some poses.
But this time was different.
It is the first time in my life that I am this consistent with exercise. Practising yoga every single morning. And now, deciding to use this book more, instead of just following online videos, I have really felt its true impact.
That’s what inspired me to write this article, and share it with you!
This book is incredible if you want to learn yoga. You can just start at the beginning, and learn about the poses – how to do them properly, step by step. You can then go to a section towards the back of the book, and start the yoga courses. It starts from beginner to very advanced.
I’ve loved doing this book’s course over the last couple of months. It really takes you on a journey, as you learn the poses properly. The detailed diagrams are amazing. Every pose has matching images, detailed descriptions and step by step instructions of getting in and out of the pose. It also tells you what health benefits the pose has on you.
So it is a wonderful step by step guide, that you can take at your own pace.
Gradually, as you become more comfortable in the poses, you can progress to more advanced poses and longer sequences.
I have stayed on the Week 1 course for a whole month and a half. It’s nice that you can use this book at your own pace, and really build a solid foundation of yoga.
2) It teaches you how to do poses properly
It’s essential that you do yoga poses properly. That way you’ll build a good foundation and get the most health benefits.
Sometimes when I’m in a yoga class at a studio, I check out the different people practising around me to see if they look aligned. While I’m not a yoga teacher, I have been practising for a while and can see if someone looks totally out. And often I see this, where a person is really not taking full advantage of the pose.
And of course, it takes time. As a beginner, you feel stiff, inflexible and often awkward. But with practice, that fades away and you find strength and calm in poses.
So, by getting a book like this, you can learn about all the poses. I’ve sat for a few hours just going through the book and reading each pose. It’s great as it details the technique, step by step, and its benefits. So you can learn fundamental knowledge to help with your alignment. Little nuggets of information that will change your practice.
Then you could do the Week 1 course in the book – which is a sequence of 10 poses – a couple mornings a week. And then go to your yoga classes as well in between, with this extra knowledge, so that you can get the most out of your practice.
When you start really focusing on your alignment and breathing, you start to really feel the beautiful effect of yoga.
3) It is great for any level, beginner to highly advanced
As a total beginner, every pose could feel like a challenge, or you may just get it right away. Either way, give it time and be patient with yourself. Know that, over time, you will get better and more comfortable. And if you commit and carry on practising consistently, you’ll get strong.
If you’re a beginner, take your time with this book. In the courses at the back, it does break down the yoga courses by week. So you have Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 etc Don’t let this freak you out because the book says to keep doing the same week’s routine until you have ‘mastered’ all the poses. In all honesty, I’ve stuck to Week 1 to Week 3 most of the time. Now I feel ready to commit and go further. But it’s all at my own pace.
So don’t let the crazy advanced poses freak you out. And remember, if you feel the urge to be able to do advanced poses, keep practisings and you’ll get there. Imagine that. 🙂
And for intermediate and advanced, this book is just as valuable.
It’s a book written by the master yogi himself, B.K.S. Iyengar. It is truly awesome to get such detailed insight into how to do poses properly, breathe, and get the most value, straight from him.
It feels like a comprehensive yoga encyclopedia, and could literally, take you from being a complete beginner to a full-on yogi master.
4) It encourages you to breathe more
The step by step guide of each pose includes breathing – When to breathe in and out in the poses, and guidance on how long to stay in each pose.
It encourages you consistently to breathe deeply and stay longer in poses.
When I first started reading Light on Yoga, I was challenged by the amount of time he suggested you stay in poses. Half a minute in a pose…. whoa…. 5 minutes in a pose…. eishhhh…. It sounded long, especially after doing a lot of Vinyasa Yoga where you basically change position with every breath.
In the book, it suggests staying in Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) for no less than 5 minutes. and to work your way to 15 minutes. Wowza… 5 minutes in Shoulder Stand is quite a challenge, especially for a beginner. So, if you’re starting out, go slow. Follow the instructions and take it super slow, perhaps only going halfway into the pose, and keeping it there for weeks. Move as slowly as your body feels comfortable.
Remember, B.K.S. Iyengar is a guru, who began studying yoga at the age of 16. He was about 48 years old when he published “Light on Yoga”, his first book. At this stage he was in his prime, doing any kind of pose like a rock star. So brilliant!
But never feel intimidated by how masterfully he does every pose, be inspired at what consistent practice and commitment can do. Even for you!
And so, as you go, focus more on your breathing. As it will help advance your practice twofold.
Follow the book’s suggestions, and enjoy staying in a pose and finding stillness with your breath. Feel the way your breath fuels your body and your practice.
The more you breathe and aim to stay in each pose for the recommended duration, the better you’ll feel. After a 5 minute Shoulder Stand breathing deeply, you feel amazing. TIP from the book: The longer you stay in Shoulder Stand, the easier the next pose is (Halasana). I tried and totally agree! When you start Shoulder Stand, even if you just start with 1 minute, and slowly work your way up. You’ll get there!
Part of yoga practice is about finding stillness, like a form of meditation. And this book, by encouraging you to breathe more and stay in poses for longer, helps you reach a meditative state and feel peaceful at the end.
5) It helps you form a regular yoga habit
Exercising consistently is not an easy challenge. It takes commitment and strength, both physically and mentally!
I often recommend that you should exercise more at home to build a habit quicker. That’s because it’s easier. You can just wake up 1 hour earlier in the morning, press play on an online workout video, and go. Before the day has even started, you’ll moved your body and feeling empowered to rock the day.
While I love online workout videos, sometimes a change is good thing. This book gives you an alternative way to practice. It offers a different experience.
If you want to use this book to build a regular yoga practice, the first step is to go to Appendix 1 to the Asana Courses. Here are yoga sequences for 300 weeks, from beginner to advanced! It’s quite unbelievable how mumch value this book offers.
So you could start with Week 1, and take your time learning the 10 poses. Start over the weekend, and spend one longer session reading the steps of the pose and then practising them. As you learn the 10 poses, you’ll start getting a nice flow from the start to the finish of the sequence. But don’t worry about a 1 Week duration. You can keep doing that ‘Week 1″ for months if you like.
Whichever course you’re doing, Week 1 or Week 100, it’s great because it gives you routines that you can get used to. You get up and just do your routine. After a week or two, you’ll know the routine and can just continue doing it as a kind of daily meditation right at the start of the day. The first sequence only takes about 20-30 minutes, and you feel great afterwards.
6) It is great for travelling.
When travelling, exercise can often go out the window. Which isn’t always a bad thing, as rest and #vacaymode is important too 🙂
But, if you want to take your practice with you wherever you go, it’s great to have a yoga routine you’re familiar with.
The first asana course in this book is a great example. It only has 10 poses and takes about 20 – 30 minutes. So it’s a perfect little routine to get familiar with and have in your pocket whenever you need to move your body. You don’t even need a mat 🙂
So while travelling, you could practice it in the morning or evening, pretty easily. You don’t need to take the book with you either. You can just write down the sequence, and familiarize yourself with it before you go. While travelling you just need a space to practice, easy as that.
Another option, as a side note, is to do online yoga videos. If you’ll have wifi while travelling, you could create a YouTube playlist before you leave so that you have a selection of videos to choose from. Then, while you’re away, you can just go to your library and pick one. If you won’t have wifi while you’re away, you can download a couple of the videos before you leave and take them with you saved on your computer. If you won’t have a computer, you could even watch videos on your smartphone or iPad. The options are limitless.
But, having a simple 20-30 minute routine in your head is a lot simpler. And you get just as much benefit.
7) It is ridiculously good value for money.
And so, if you’re a yoga-lover, a curious beginning, or a rockstar yogi master, this book offers a ton of value.
Online I see it’s only about 15 euros. If you think about how much 1 yoga class costs at a studio, this is ridiculously good value for money.
Inside is a wealth of knowledge straight from the yoga master, B.K.S. Iyengar. All the different asanas (poses), step by step techniques, and breathing guidance. Towards the back are the Asana Courses, going from Week 1 all the way to Week 300! Apart from the poses and sequences, there’s lots more – Look up conditions and illnesses, and try the recommended poses. Learn Sanskrit with the glossary and in the lovely descriptions. It’s a treasure trove of valuable yoga knowledge to build a strong foundation on.
I got mine at a bookshop, you have a look around in your city. Otherwise, I looked only and found a version like mine (blue cover and bigger) here (I’m in no way affiliated).
Ready to read Light on Yoga?
I hope I have inspired you to get your hands on this book! If you do, let me know in the comments. And if you already have the book, tell me more about your experience with it, and if you’ve tried any of the yoga courses at the back. I’d love to know.