This paper reveals one teaching in The Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar that particularly impacted me, how I verified its applicability by testing it in a real-world situation and what’s the final conclusion.
Correct knowledge is based on “three kinds of proof: direct perception, correct deduction, and testimony from … wise experienced people.”
I first took a stereotype, which is widely believed to be accurate:
Yogis live without a care in the world. They’re members of a gibberish-speaking secret society who stretch themselves. If they’re not stretching, they dance barefoot in a field of daisies – sipping green smoothies. Yoga itself is not for everyone, it’s just for bendy and well-stretched humans.
Then I applied the three elements of the teaching to the stereotype as follows:
I visited a yoga society called Radiant Yoga Marbella by climbing into their cleverly hidden clubhouse. Surprisingly the front door was wide open. I instantly detected mysterious fragrant smoke, books of sacred texts and members carrying their yoga mats. I was met by friendly women who, indeed, appeared as well-stretched. I indicated my desire to join the society and was accepted on the spot. A class was just about to start and from that moment it was on. I was told to sit, stand, stretch, bend, meditate, breathe, stretch a bit more and then stretch even further. At one point I was commanded to lift my pelvic floor, which was easier said than done as I didn’t even know that I had one – nor that it could be lifted.
After that first visit, I’ve been back regularly – observing and perceiving.
The stereotype doesn’t correspond with reality. First, it turns out that the society is not secret. To the contrary, it could very well be the most open society as everyone is welcome and could start practicing. Second, flexibility is not required. Third, I’ve not heard any gibberish – only clearly spoken explanations and facts.
Testimony from wise experienced people
The final proof comes from the teachers at Radiant Yoga who are no less than walking encyclopedias of yoga. Their knowledge has its roots in teachings dating back some 2500 years, studies and extensive direct perception as they’ve been practicing yoga for years. Their teachings have repeatedly confirmed my observations.
1) The teaching is applicable and accurate
2) The stereotype is inaccurate
I’m continuing my observations. Radiant Yoga’s mesmerizingly knowledgeable teachers keep on taking me by surprise daily. They seemingly have an endless supply of asanas, yoga blocks and ideas which when wickedly combined will make a grown man cry. Thankfully I’m sweating so much that no one has noticed my tears. I’ve also experienced something very curious. After a class where I’ve been hammered to the point of fainting, I find myself from my balcony sipping green smoothies. And then, if I close my eyes, I swear to god, I feel like I’m dancing in a field of daisies.