Both the complete novice and the seasoned yogi will benefit from this book. Mr. Iyengar not only provides simple step by step written instructions, but also enough photographs to completely undertake the study of Yoga on an auto-tutorial basis. As long as diligent, intelligent, careful reading and imitation are observed, the serious student will benefit from the this book tremendously. However, one should pay heed to Mr. Iyengar's advice of ultimately studying with a competent instructor.
In your search for books on Yoga, this reviewer urges you NOT to be persuaded by marketable and fashionable products. The dedicated student will learn all the basic lessons of Yoga by carefully reading Light on Yoga, and through the negotiation of all 200+ poses without the aid of special props and without concern for the seemingly gargantuan task. Two important requisites for a beneficial study of Yoga are explicitly stated several times throughout the book: determination and perseverance in all aspects of life lead to success.
In its structure and content, Yehudi Menuhin's foreword exemplifies the duality of simplicity and profundity that Yoga can offer. The beauty of this book resides in its minimalistic conciseness. In this respect it is a hidden treasure as well as a faithful embodiment of the ultimate goals of yogic practice: mental, physical and spiritual development. It is also an ancient radicalism aimed at the heart of our modern quick-fixes and 30 minute workouts.
In case some of the other readers missed Mr. Iyengar's instructions with respect to the duration of each of the poses, please note the following. Light on Yoga recommends that one should always begin by GENTLY, CORRECTLY and RESPONSIBLY negotiating each pose before holding it for at least 20 seconds (a bit longer if you are physically capable). Always keep in mind that Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Therefore, one should take note of his or her own capacity when doing any of the asanas.
It is imperative that all poses be held for as long as possible once the CORRECT posture is GENTLY and RESPONSIBLY negotiated. After some practice one should hold each posture slightly beyond what seems to be humanly possible at the moment. Once one becomes an expert the duration can be extended according to one's personal physical capacity. The key is to first follow the advice and cautions outlined throughout the book. What follows is the classic battle of mind over matter. Learn to master the body by focusing your mind on the discomfort and use your mental powers of Self control to learn to relax the affected areas. Ultimately, the body will be strong and no longer a major concern. The mind is then free for further development. This requires patience as well as discipline, and it is what Mr. Iyengar is trying to get across. Yoga is a life-long discipline with the hidden power of providing durable results only to those who persevere. Do yourself a favor and do not look for the easy way out by searching for pretty pictures and a standardized array of time frames.
The reader, of course, is free to choose from the myriad books available, but I urge you to keep one thing in mind. Such books are NOT the treasure that you will find in Light on Yoga. Quite frankly, there is no other Yoga book on the market that even comes close to genuinely caring for the personal benefit of its reader.
Read this book, study it and take notes before reading it again and repeating the cycle indefinitely for the rest of your life. You owe it to yourself. I wish you success in your exploration of this life-changing gift from a living legend. Have faith in the ancient history that precedes your Self. With time and patience one can create a proper sequence of asanas to fit comfortably within a busy schedule and according to one's needs and capabilities. Trust me on this one.
Mr. Iyengar recently reached his 80th year of youth, health and vitality. But do not be awed by this. Neither should you worship him. Instead, admire his humility. Learn from him. Simply let him guide you. He is human...and so are you.