Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 3: Vitality – The Energy Body

Selected extracts from the third chapter (Part 1)

Prana is the energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and cosmic energy.

Prana is special because it carries awareness. It is the vehicle of consciousness.

There is a conduit available directly to cosmic consciousness and intelligence.

By lifting and separating the thirty-three articulations of the vertebral column, and opening the ribs from the spine like tiger’s claws, we deepen and lengthen the breath.

By learning to appreciate breath we learn to appreciate life itself. The gift of breath is the gift of life.

Pranayama is the beginning of withdrawal from the external engagement of the mind and senses. That is why it brings peacefulness.

Introversion in its positive sense, not shying away from the world out of feelings of inadequacy but a desire to explore your inner world. The breath, working in the sheath of the physical body, serves as a bridge between body and mind.

Breath builds up the tremendous power needed to face the infinite light when grace dawns.

Because of this fast life we are neglecting the body and the mind. The body and mind are beginning to pull each other in opposite directions, dissipating our energy.

Life is of itself stressful. People go to the cinema to relax. But even watching the picture is stressful. In sleep there is also stress.

Our aim is to be able to deal with stress as and when it arises, and not to imprint and accumulate it in the body’s systems, including both conscious and unconscious memory.

The main causes of negative stress are anger, fear, speed, greed, unhealthy ambition, and competition, which produce a deleterious effect on the body.

The practice of asana and pranayama not only de-stress you but energise and invigorate the nerves and the mind in order to handle the stress that comes from the caprices of life.

While yoga may begin with the cult of the body, it leads towards the cultivation of our consciousness.

Stress must be dealt with before one can truly meditate.

When you are emotionally disturbed, insecurity and anxiety from the conscious mind is converted into the unconscious mind.

We seek freedom but cling to bondage.

The pranayama kosa, the energetic sheath, is not only where we work with breath but also where we work with our emotions.

Most Westerners try to solve their emotional problems through intellectual understanding.

We carry around within the recollection of mind our rancour, resentments, hates, greed, and lust, even when the motivating stimulus is absent.

Look at your dog. When you leave him he is sad; his heart is on the ground. When you come home, is there resentment? No, he is overjoyed to see you. Are you closer to reality  or is your dog?

The ‘di’ root in Sanskrit is the same as ‘division’ and ‘devil’ in English.

The ego seeks power because it seeks self-perpetuation; it seeks at all costs to avoid its own inevitable demise. To achieve that impossible end, it devises a thousand ruses. … Lust is self-validation through consumption.

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