In early 2014, inspired by my teachers Darren Rhodes and Christina Sell, I cooked up a crazy personal practice idea: study and perform - in order - all 200 postures in BKS Iyengar's classic asana manual, Light On Yoga.
I had a few different hopes wrapped up into this project. I wanted a comprehensive survey of my own practice. I wanted to learn more about the postures. I wanted to map my own boundaries of resistance and comfort. I wanted to become skilled at using Light On Yoga as a resource for practicing and teaching. And I'd be lying if I didn't say I wanted proof of my own badassery.
So I started at the beginning. I pored over Iyengar's terse (and sometimes unintentionally hilarious) commentary word by word, and started practicing each asana exactly as he recommended.
The results were surprising. Yes, my physical practice began to take off and I picked up a boatload of asana knowledge. Nothing unexpected there. But what I hadn't really anticipated - though in retrospect it seems obvious - was an overwhelming flood of emotion, and an enduring sense of gratitude and devotion. On a visceral level, I began to empathize with Iyengar's famous quote:
“The physical body is not only a temple for our soul, but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.”
Plenty of yogis believe that practicing asana (or anything, really) in a state of absorption and creative flow can be deeply spiritual. With Light On Yoga as a framework, that's exactly what I experienced. The poses helped me square with the whole gamut of emotion, from elation right down to disgust bordering on physical illness. And the sheer power and scope of the overall project humbled me. The deep learning and content of the book inspired me. The devotion the whole thing required - a balance of respect for Mr. Iyengar and reverence for myself - changed my outlook on practice.
After that, I really wanted to share what I had learned. And I wanted to pay homage to BKS Iyengar, his teachings, and his book.
So I teamed up with my good friend Rick Cummings, a masterful commercial, fine art, and yoga photographer here in Boulder, Colorado. Together, we shot (almost) every pose - again, in order - over the course of just four sessions, and organized them into a database of yoga pictures here on my website.
Over the next year or so, I plan to convert my notes and little eureka moments from this project into blog posts merging BKS Iyengar's writing with my own experiences and insights. To receive updates as these posts go up, I'd be honored to have you on my email list!
I hope that this Light On Yoga Project serves you as a useful (and fun!) resource in your yoga practice and/or teaching. Gain insight by reading, studying the pictures, and even by asking questions or sharing your own knowledge in the comments section as each blog post goes up. I look forward to sharing and interacting with each of you in the months and years ahead.
Best of luck to you on your path! And if you have any questions or simply want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment below.