Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga...

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The definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga--the ancient healing discipline for body and mind--by its greatest living teacher. Light on Yoga provides complete descriptions and illustrations of all the positions and breathing exercises. Features a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin. Illustrations throughout.

Customer Reviews:

  • A classic, if you have a serious practice own this book!
    Not flashy or even user friendly (hence 4 stars instead of 5) this book is required reading for serious yogins. Iyengars description of poses is the "industry standard" even if you don't agree with his placement of the arm in one asana or another. I find myself referring to this text over and over in my teacher trainings and in my practice....more info
  • Indeed the Bible of yoga
    This book is written by the leading authoritiy of yoga in the world. It is complete, accurate and the last (though conservative) word on the subject. If you are a beginner ,better skip this book and settle for slimmer ones available in the market....more info
  • Gems are there if you are willing to dig
    I have a love-hate relationship with this book. On the positive side it is very comprehensive: it contains everything from beginning asanas to poses you might never achieve. It contains instruction on breathing, sequencing, bandhas and the effects of asanas. Lots of densely packed information.

    On the negative side: it is difficult, like an ornery old uncle that you love and who is brilliant but who also drives you nuts. It is poorly laid out. Often the pictures the text refers to are on different pages. The pictures are not the slick studio shots that many have come to expect based on current yoga magazines and advertising in general (don't bite my head off for saying this, I am just trying to describe the book).

    The amount of information in this book can be overwhelming. I am an information junkie and for the first five years of my yoga practice it was too much for me: I felt overwhelmed and discouraged every time I opened it. This book does not hold your hand or spoon feed you: detailed information is there but you have to work to get it out. Iyengar uses only the Sanskrit names for the poses. I realize some camps believe "that is the right and proper way" but others find it overwhelming at first, and I'm not here to debate that, but it is something you should know about the book. In explaining one pose he often refers back to others (which of course are on different pages) so if you don't remember all the Sanskrit names you will be doing a lot of flipping pages.

    Now that I have been doing yoga for 8 years I appreciate this book a lot more: It has detailed directions for lots of asanas and covers material that I have not seen anywhere else. But every time I use the book I still have the urge to rip it up and past the pictures next to the text that refers to them. Once I get over that urge though I usually can dig out valuable information, but it does take work.

    Although it is a great book and a copy will end up on many serious yogis shelves I would not recommend this book for beginners. Starting with this book would be like feeding your baby champagne and truffles for his first meal: while both are terrific they are too much for newbies. But once you have fallen in love with yoga and have developed a hankering for more than just the basics, this book will be just the thing. There is information in here that will take a lifetime to master.
    ...more info
  • A Bargain at Five Times the Price
    I own a slew of large format, glossy, full-color yoga books. If I had to choose between the lot of them and this smaller format, non-glossy, black and white book, I would toss them all and keep this book without hesitation.

    The Introduction is 36 pages long and explains the basic philosophy behind B.K.S. Iyengar's yoga practice. I was very glad to see that this wasn't the usual pop, new age, "feel the white light enter your navel" kind of philosophy common to many yoga books. And of course, you can always skip the introduction entirely if you don't care about the philosophy and just want to get to the poses.

    Each pose is illustrated in pictures (black and white) and explained in great detail. I have had no difficultly at all in following the instructions for the poses--an amazing feat which speaks for the clarity of the writing.

    After the section of yoga poses, there is a section of instruction for pranayama. This is a section for very advanced yoga practitioners and deals with controlled breathing. Being a yoga novice, I haven't tried anything out of this section. Pictures and explanations appear to be the same in presentation as the yoga section.

    The first Appendix lays out "Asana Courses," or more simply put: What Poses to Do When. This section lists each week of yoga practice from the first week to the 275th week, and lays out what poses would be appropriate for each.

    The second Appendix recommends poses for specific health ailments.

    This is by far the best yoga book I have ever encountered. It would be a bargain at 5 times the price. The instruction is so good, you won't miss the glossy color pages one bit. I consider this to be one of the best book purchases I've ever made....more info
  • Light on the Yogi's Path.
    This is one of those books that you simply have to review. B.K.S. Iyengar's works are unparalled in the field of modern yoga literature. With hundreds of illustrations and in-depth descriptions of all the important asanas (postures), it really is the "bible" of yoga today. If you prefer to practice at home, this is the book for you. It is the next best thing (and a cheaper alternative!) to a good yoga class.

    Part I gives in brief the theory of Raja Yoga and how it is complemented by, not separate from, Hatha Yoga. The theoretical part alone makes "Light On Yoga" worth the money. But it is really a book for serious practitioners of yoga. If you like this part of the book and want to know more, you might want to check out some good commentaries on "The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali" and "The Bhagavad Gita" (Iyengar has his own).

    In Part II (the heart of the book) are all the major asanas, generously depicted by over 600 photographs. The Sanskrit names of the asanas are used, along with a short explanation of each one in English. Then, you get step-by-step instructions on how to execute the pose, with ample warnings and tips. Each pose has a number or difficulty-level assigned to it (1-60), and there are basic and advanced stages of many postures. Take that seriously and do not go too far too soon. Lastly, the author tells you what health benefits you will reap from a pose.

    Part III introduces you to the complex area of pranayama. But for this, I would recommend "Light On Pranayama," which is a companion to the present volume.

    Appendix I has a 300 week course divided into three stages: easy, intermediate and difficult. Appendix II lists various ailments and the asanas that can cure them. There is also a glossary, a table of asanas and an index.

    Another reviewer asked if the health precautions make sense. They do. Do not dismiss Iyengar's warnings. Do not practice certain asanas (particularly, inverted ones) during the menstrual period. Do not perform the head stand without assistance if you are a beginner, especially if you have sensitive eyes.

    Be sure to follow the courses as given in the back of the book, since practicing asanas beyond your capacity can be harmful. Start with the easy poses first and add gradually the intermediate and advanced asanas as your body adjusts. Some asanas must be approached with great caution. Be very careful if you decide to try those at home without a teacher or friend to assist you.

    My only real complaint? I wish that these gurus would give simple English names for the asanas, as an alternative to the confusing Sanskrit/Indian names. It would make memorizing the order of asanas in a given routine easier.

    Iyengar is a true master of his art, and this book is the best guide on the subject available today. Whether you want to become a full-time practitioner, or are just looking for basic exercises to improve your health with, this book will give you what you need. I wish I had found "Light On Yoga" sooner. Granted, there are countless other books on the topic that describe the same asanas and all. But this one is the most exhaustive and the most reliable.

    Also good is "Yoga: the Path to Holistic Health." That other book by Iyengar is not as comprehensive as this one, but it is a full-color, coffee-table book with 360-degree views of the main poses. A big plus is that it makes use of props--benches, chairs, pillows, etc....more info

  • My original copy of this book is probably older than you are
    This is the definitive Hatha Yoga manual - with some discussion of Pranayama (although his Light on Pranayama covers that subject in detail). A gentle man. A general when instructing. He is the father of a modern hatha yoga based on the eight-limbed yoga of Patanjali. How far back does the yoga tradition extend? Past the Upanishads, past the Vedas, past the Indus valley and into the mists of pre-history. Yoga is not a fad, unless humanity is....more info
  • The Best on Authentic Yoga - Philosophy & Practice (advanced)
    I've been doing Yoga for several years (honestly, on and off) and recently I decided to Yoga sincerely to get rid of my backpain. My backpain vanished in 7 weeks completely and am feeling really vibrant! Earlier, I tried chiropractor / massages, it gave only temporary relief. Having realized that value of Yoga, I got intersted in knowing the philosophy as well as other asanas. During my research, most of the books and dvds I looked into are junk as they have commercialized and giving some substandard yoga. Finally, I've found this book to be one of the best 3 and also validated with some authentic yoga masters. Thanks to the author who has presented this great ancient science of mind, body & soul and given it to the world in a practical format. If you want only one comprehensive/advanced book on authentic Yoga, this is it!

    If you are a beginner, focus only on the asanas mentioned in the level 1 course in the appendix. Otherwise, one can get overwhelmed. Alternatively, you can get:
    ~ Yoga: The Iyengar Way - Silva Mehta, Mira Mehta & Shyam Mehta (practical book; authentic; highly recommended)

    I highly recommend the following book:
    ~ Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar (faithful to its original Sanskrit text; it's only for serious study)
    ...more info
  • It's what Robert's Rules of Order is to parliamentary bodies
    Iyengar himself has disavowed this book long ago...even so, it's the single greatest reference book out there.

    The first thing that will blow you away is the treatise on hatha yoga. The ease with which he describes the philosophy of yoga foreshadows his complete book on the subject. It's quite a foreshadowing!

    The bulk of the book is an exhaustive detailed pictorial and written description of most practical poses (and several impractical ones).

    However, I fell in love with his close to 300-week practice schedule in the back of the book. I must say that it's implausible that someone can follow it exactly and include all the poses all the time (even he says to skip the ones you can't master), it's a very keen insight into what HIS practice might have been like back when this book was published, before he started a huge yoga school.

    Now he has curriculum that changes every year (to keep teacher coming back to $$$chool - smart man!). The current Iyengar school details exact angles in which to keep your body in specific poses. I love 'Light on Yoga' because it lacks that exactness, and allows you to feel the energy of poses, rather than getting stuck in anatomy of the poses.

    A must read, and must re-read, and a must re-re-re-re-re-............more info
  • Excelent for healthness
    This is an excelent book if you want to begin -or become an expert- in the yogasanas. Iyengar show to us each of the asanas.. the perfect way and form to perform them. He explains us what for each asana is. It is the benefits -phsysical, espiritual, mental- to improve "strength, concentration and persistence, determination and endurance"....more info
  • If You Could Have Only One Book on Hatha . . .
    . . . this would be it. It contains clear explanations and photographs of every asana there is--or, to be more precise, if it isn't in here, you don't need it. The brief section on yoga philosophy is excellent, as is the brief, but thorough, introduction to pranayama. This book has been The Bible of hatha yoga since its publication and deservedly so.

    The tone of the book, however, is very austere. Very no-nonsense. And humorless. Given the nature of the book, those are certainly not to be considered flaws. But to lighten and sweeten your yoga reading and library, you would probably do well to add one of Donna Farhi's excellent books, or the Sivananda Companion, or really any other contemporary hatha-oriented text that appeals to you. Iyengar is a master and a master teacher, but his prose here does not make one feel like hitting the mat. It's quite cold and technical. If, like me, you find it helpful to have an author who coaxes and coaches and does some virtual hand-holding, get a more touchy-feely text to go along with this one. ...more info
  • Light on Yoga
    This is the premier manual on hatha yoga, and by the top teacher in the world today....more info
  • Good info/ Out of my league
    This book contains a plethora of information, but it is definitely for the advanced student. There is also an "old fashoined" flavor to the work, and I get the impression that is was originally written for men and any references to women were added as an afterthought. It gives some puzzling advice, such as 'women should avoid practicing any asanas during menstruation.' I have never seen this advice given anywhere else, and I wonder if it's relevant. I am happy with the book as a reference, but not as a practice manual....more info
  • Essential for Serious Yoga Students!
    This comprehensive book will take you through a lifetime of yoga practice. The beginning explains the philosophy behind yoga, which is an inspiring way to live. There is an extensive compilation of asanas, from easy ones to ones that only the most experienced yogis can attempt, as well as a guide to pranayama. There's a valuable index to help you look up postures to help certain ailments or weaknesses, which I use almost like a medical guide. It's an absolute must-have for anyone who is serious about yoga....more info
  • Essential, but not for beginners
    The "bible" for serious hatha yoga practitioners, although you probably will never be able to achieve a large percentage of the postures illustrated. At least, I won't! It is still the authoritative source for performing each posture correctly. One of his later books, "Yoga, the Path to Holistic Health," has wonderful 360-degree views of the "classic" postures, but it's a huge hardback that is impossible to carry with you....more info
  • Unbelievably useful
    If you are taking yoga on as a serious study you must get this book!! It's like a yoga bible. The intro alone will set you on a path of a new and complete understanding of the philosophy of this age old practice. Then to boot - you have a complete pictorial compilation of all the postures with descriptions of each and the breathing techniques.

    Don't worry about it being written by Iyengar himself if you intend on practicing other branches of yoga - this book was recommended to me by a well known and respected Vinyasa instructor, Marco Rojas. I work mostly in Ashtanga and Yin/Yan yoga. Seriously, this book will set you on your way regardless of how you ultimately choose to practice....more info
  • outstanding!
    I can't believe I've been practicing yoga all these years and haven't owned this book! This is my new bible; a treasure chest filled with every pose and the theory behind them. Every serious student or teacher should have this definitive book in their library....more info
  • Light on Yoga
    A MUST for all serious students of yoga. It is not an easy read, but the information is necessary for a complete practice....more info
  • Light on Yoga
    Light on Yoga is also light on interest. I ordered this book and The Yoga Bible. I am using the Yoga Bible and think it is very well put together and easy to use. Photography is also very good. Light on Yoga is just not put together in a user friendly manner....more info
  • The Best Yoga Book on the Market
    I fell in love with yoga after severely breaking my leg in three places. Rehab only took me so far, but thankfully yoga took me the rest of the way. After discovering the many health benefits of yoga, I began studying it seriously. Part of the journey of any student is to become a teacher. For two years, I taught yoga classes at local gyms and dance studios 5 times a week.

    As a teacher, I became more of an avid student than I was before. I bought just about every book and tape on yoga, and I even had friends bring me books from respected Yogi's in India. But the best book I ever found was Light on Yoga. It starts at the beginning with, "What is Yoga?" before continuing on with each position. It details the technique in both written form and with a photograph, and then it discusses the effects of each position. You see, yoga is not just designed to make you more flexible or releave stress--each position can help treat/prevent certain sickness and infections.

    For those of you who are just getting started, this book might seem overwhelming when you see photographs of Iyengar doing things with his body that seem humanly impossible. But don't focus so much on the flexibility aspect, as the healing aspect. If you take each position to your own level, you will be doing a great service to your body, and to your health. Bottom line--buy the book and join a local yoga class!...more info

  • Iyengar is blunt but thorough
    Addendum to my Nov. 2, 1998, as "a reader": photographs are scattered throughout the book now, near text for postures, rather than collected @the end of the book. (I realize now that the original presentation of photos @the end probably had more to do with editorial convenience than with instructional method.)

    I found a hardcover version of this in a public library almost 40 years ago. Despite its multiple editions, "Light on Yoga" appears pretty much as it did originally: dry, matter-of-fact topics (procedure, duration, effects) for each asana & asanas arranged more or less by level of difficulty. Iyengar is blunt but thorough.

    The foreward by Yehudi Menuhin (somewhere there's a 60 Minutes segment or PBS broadcast of Menuhin performing some yoga postures for the interviewer) is likewise blunt: yoga provides the opportunity to have the range of motion @80 that you had @25. But it's something you gotta work at.

    I have had one or two other books on yoga: I've given them away or sold them. This is the 2d time I've bought "Light on Yoga." What know of yoga in 40 years I've learned from this book....more info
  • Everything a beginner needs
    Whether you are looking for a physical improvement or a mental one, Light on Yoga will give you what you need. Each asana is accompanied by at least one (usually more) photographs to illustrate the proper technique, a synopsis on the effects, and details instructions that anyone can follow. Breathing, focus, position of each limb and which muscles to focus on are all covered thoroughly. When applicable, there are even variations that can be applied, depending on the student's comfort and skill level, so that no one need skip an important technique just because he or she is starting out and has no outside help.

    Iyengar then further assists the beginning student with a list of which poses to start with and add each week, for a comprehensive schedule that will keep you improving for years. Also included is a list of common ailments and asanas that can relieve these ailments.

    Anyone interested in strength, flexibility, balance, and inner peace should have at least this one book....more info

  • The Master tells it all!
    During early 1980s there weren't many books on Yoga and it was easy to spot this book. I was amazed by the number of photographs as well as the depth of asanas covered in this book. From a simple Standing posture to the most complex asana ever performed, Mr. Iyengar shares his experience in a way that even beginners can start practising Yoga w/o a teacher.

    What I like most of this book is not that asanas, but the great, concise introduction to the philosophy of Yoga. In a nutshell his whole understanding of it has been condensed to a great advantage for the reader.

    Another unique aspect of the book is the layout of the asanas, or groups thereof, for practise for a student - weekly progression can be accomplished by following the schedule. The asanas according to the category of physical ailments is another plus for either a student or a teacher.

    Even a great book will have to have something missing? The posture photographs depicts the steps, but from another book (Yoga Self-Taught by Andre Van Lysbeth) I found it immensely helpful to look at photographs of common mistakes one can make/avoid while performing an asana.

    While I have had this book for more than 20 years, it is only now that I refer to it more often - i.e., after I have passed the intermediate stage. That is because the sheer number of asanas covered as well as the precision with which Mr. Iyengar illustrates could more of daunting for the beginner; a beginner may think this is too much....more info

  • Great book
    As the title says - Bible of Modern Yoga. Very informative, very detailed and is a great reference. It is not a 'fancy' yoga book, so no color pictures but is a must have for anyone who really wants to learn about yoga....more info
  • Light on Yoga review
    This book truly is the bible of modern yoga, and was purchased in preparation for a yoga teacher training class. The first part of the book discusses the philosophy behind yoga and introduces important terms. The rest of the book goes through many asanas to discuss breathing and proper techniques....more info
  • Kind of the Encyclopedia of Iyengar
    I'm a yoga fan, and I bought this book a few years ago when I was going through a new phase in my practice. It now holds a cherished spot on my bookshelf. One of the reviewers said it was for beginners and they are oh, so wrong. It's a kind of reference guide to Iyengar method of yoga. So if you even know what that means, you are obviously not a beginner, and I'm not being tough, I'm just saying that the other reviewer who was grossed out, that also makes sense to me. For serious yoga folks, this is a definitive guide to all the positions and how they should be done. So if you want to work on a few poses that you've never been good at in class, or you want a home practice that is more scholarly, this is the book for you.

    What I like about it is that it's no nonsense (one reviewer says 'blunt'). If you can decode the shorthand of yogaspeak, it's a very useful manual. The photos are somewhat useful but in reality you know most of the poses from class so it's not really helpful to look at this incredibly flexible teacher doing them. The photos in a way give it a historical point-in-time feeling.

    Far from other yoga books, this is a very practical one and doesn't go into the theory or religion much (as Iyengar is a more practical practice). This is what I like about it, it is a great catalog of definitive poses....more info
  • Definative Guide
    If you are interested in yoga, this book is one of the must have books in your collection.

    It covers everything from the philosphy of yoga to an extensive range of asanas for your practice. The material is covered in great detail, including images as needed, Highly recommended as comprehensive and an invaluable reference for Hatha Yoga and to refine your practice and approach....more info
  • Light on Yoga
    I loved this book! It is a necessary addition to anyone interested in examining yoga thouroughly. Mr. Iyengar's prose builds lessons in class and commands meditative attention....more info
  • A Near Perfect Classic
    Iyengar is probably the world's most accomplished living master of asanas, and this book aptly illuminates that fact. The only drawback is that Iyengar is fully stuck in the classical "hatha" mindset of yoga. Thus, the more modern approach, which integrates the siddhis, pranayama and the foundations of meditation that are more fully explored by modern masters such as Desikachar or McAfee, are notably absent in Iyengar's approach.

    In spite of this shortcoming, the book is jam packed with infinite detail about the structure and form of asanas. There is no other book on asanas even approaching this quality and I keep my copy as a contant reference....more info

  • Iyengar Yoga
    Difinitive guide by Iyengar. Great for any level. Answers all questions on correct form and alignment. It's the "bible" of yoga....more info
  • Great Book for those with elastic appendages
    The best part of this book is the 50 pg introduction -
    After that, there are hundreds of pages of asanas, rated on a difficulty scale of *1-*60. Well, this is my complaint - these ratings apply to master yogis or gymnasts - for anyone with avg. to below avg. flexibility, most positions are seemingly impossible. Seriously, I could do about two poses out of several hundred - the one where you stand straight up, and the one where you lay straight down (Savasana). Another annoying feature is the long Sanskrit names for each asana - it's pretty hard to remember what Viskapthanasana involves - why don't they just call it "Extend legs into floating trapezoid while balancing on fingernail" - or something like that. And finally, the most disconcerting (actually genuinely frightening) aspect of the book is the guy (is it Iyengar?) they have pictured doing poses. On one pose they have him in a back bend, sticking out his tongue with bugged out eyes - it's just creepy. But if you can stand these minor inconveniences this book is worth it - that is, if you're really sold on yoga. If not, I recommend learning how to touch your toes - I'm now only about 5 inches away....more info
  • Great Choice
    This is a great book. I especially love the yoga plans given in the end and prescriptions. Great buy. If you truly want to link in to hatha yoga. Get this....more info
  • Sequences for Yoga
    If you are a devoted Iyengar student, and would like to start self/home practice, the sequences at the back of this book are detailed and excellent. For a less intensive sequencing program, refer to Yoga - the Iyengar Way by Mira Metha....more info
  • Light on yoga is a light in itself - Brings an indentity for yourself
    BKS Iyengar has brought new light to yoga. The way he explains each asana and dedication to practice proves that there is no such lifeless work on this earth that man cannot breathe life into it.

    Pera Harish S...more info
  • Enlightening
    I learnt yoga through another teacher. I wanted to use this as a reference book. Well, as it turned out it was not a reference, but the bible. All nuances which I missed while learning are clearly mentioned. Exact details of the postures involved along with photographs are clearly shown here. This book has helped me beyond my imagination. It is also very well patterned because, it tells you what is the posture and its characteristics. The steps involved. References to related postures and ultimately, the effects and precautions. Throughout the book, he has mentioned that a guru's presence is very important. It should not be ignored. It is better to take some classes first and after that, this is the only book you will ever need. The postures are given in the sequence of easiest to the most difficult. All in all, THE BOOK....more info
  • Very Excellent book
    I appreciate this book as a good one in Yoga area. With the clear explanation and good illustrations,Any readers can understand the way of Yoga practices. Thanks to Iyengar who wrote this book....more info
  • The authority
    I regard this book as the true arbiter of the correct way to perform all yoga asanas. LIGHT ON YOGA has many things going for it. First of all, Iyengar goes into great detail about the positions. I've never seen another yoga book that goes into such detail. He doesn't make any assumptions. He also gives valuable advice such as "persons over forty should not attempt this asana for the first time" for some of the asanas. (I wish I had read this book before attempting the Scorpion for the first time at age 45!) The second thing I really like about the book is that it is Iyengar, an older man, who demonstrates the postures in the hundreds of photographs, rather than a trim 30-year old woman in a leotard like 9/10ths of all other yoga books. There are zillions of books out there on yoga, many with profuse illustrations and photographs, but none of them even comes close to LIGHT ON YOGA. This is a very valuable reference book. Any person who is serious about yoga should have this book....more info
  • A must read for yogi's
    BKS Iyengar, the leading wosrld authority on yoga provides a usable description both of yoga and its history. Do not get too hung up on the asana descriptions. Many are unatainable by the average person. Excellent reference on the subject....more info
  • Excellent
    What a great book with all the positions I've learned in this book I am ready to try running for office again....more info
  • If you have one comprehensive book on yoga this should be it.
    This book generally shows the progression of the poses from beginner to advanced. You will not be talked down to in this book. I like having more information then I need so that I can reference back and progress when I'm ready. ...more info
  • If you are interested in yoga this is a must
    Great book for anybody, but especially needed for beginers. For every asana there is at least one picture to illustrate the proper technique. Helps with breathing and flow, describing how your muscles are working and proper focus....more info
  • Nice but Harmful?
    I practiced Iyengar Yoga according to this book and with instruction of good teachers, but found that the book leaves out some crucial aspects of yoga, while emphasising some aspects of posture/asana that may make the practice too mechanical. It is fine to learn good alignment, but it is important to note that what is in the heart is more important than how the posture looks from the outside. A good book to balance this one is Mark Whitwell's "Yoga of Heart," which describes the importance of the goal of yoga- integrating your life- as well as the importance of 1) a regular simple daily practice, 2) understanding how to gauge what YOUR body should and can do from day to day. ...more info
  • If you want to learn, do it from the best
    Great instruction, precise, to the point.
    Black and white photos that are inspiring and challenge our expectations.
    A definite book to own for anyone serious about the study of yoga and asanas....more info


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