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Light on Prãnãyãma: The Yogic Art of Breathing

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In this classic yoga best-seller a world-renowned yoga master shares the techniques of breathing together with a comprehensive background of yoga philosophy. B. K. S. Iyengar is a legend who has practiced yoga in a unique way, and today "Iyengar Yoga" is taught around the world by certified instructors.


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In this classic yoga best-seller a world-renowned yoga master shares the techniques of breathing together with a comprehensive background of yoga philosophy. B. K. S. Iyengar is a legend who has practiced yoga in a unique way, and today "Iyengar Yoga" is taught around the world by certified instructors.

30 review for Light on Prãnãyãma: The Yogic Art of Breathing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Littrell

    Review to come. (If I can find it.) As I recall having read this many years ago...it is worth reading as is anything from B.K.S. Iyengar one of the great teachers of yoga. Random recall: There is a movie by the great French director Louis Malle called "Phantom India" from 1969 in which he films the not yet famous Iyengar teaching yoga.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This is B.K.S. Iyengar’s A-Z guide to breath and breathing exercises (pranayama.) It’s meant to do for pranayama practice what “Light on Yoga” did for asana (postural) practice. That is, it presents all the classic techniques, offers variants to meet individual needs, and provides the background necessary to put pranayama into the context of a balanced yoga practice. Let me begin by discussing the book’s organization, and this book is organized to the n-th degree. There are parts, sections, chapt This is B.K.S. Iyengar’s A-Z guide to breath and breathing exercises (pranayama.) It’s meant to do for pranayama practice what “Light on Yoga” did for asana (postural) practice. That is, it presents all the classic techniques, offers variants to meet individual needs, and provides the background necessary to put pranayama into the context of a balanced yoga practice. Let me begin by discussing the book’s organization, and this book is organized to the n-th degree. There are parts, sections, chapters, and even the paragraphs are numbered (though--near as I can tell--the latter serves no purpose for a typical reader and may be more for the help of the writer and his assistants. It does create a somewhat biblical scheme, so maybe it was assumed there would be a need to quote this guide “chapter and verse,” as they say in Bible study.) The bulk of the book consists of the first of two parts, and Part I is divided into three sections. The first of those sections is “The Theory of Pranayama,” and it puts pranayama in the context of yoga’s entirety. If you’ve read other B.K.S. Iyengar titles, much in these nine chapters will be familiar (e.g. discussion of the eight limbs.) However, chapter 4 offers a nice description of the anatomy and physiology of respiration. There are many anatomical drawings and diagrams in it to help convey the complex information. There’s also additional information about the traditional Indian notions of breath encapsulated in the concepts of prana, nadis, and chakras. Section II is entitled “The Art of Pranayama” and it covers those topics necessary regardless of what technique of breath exercise one is practicing. It includes seated postures, mudras, bandhas, inhalation, exhalation, retention, etc. This section, too, has nine chapters. The final section of Part I describes the various techniques of pranayama. The chapters of this section are arrayed in lists, and they systematically build from the basic technique towards more advanced variations (e.g. by inserting retentions.) Part II covers meditation (dhyana) and the corpse pose (savasana.) With respect to the former, it suggests how one’s body, mind, and sense organs should be conducted in the act of meditation. In the case of the chapter on corpse pose (after cross-legged seating position, this being the most common position for practice) there’s an extensive look at the details of that pose. There are a number of helpful features incorporated into the book. In addition to the drawings mentioned in Chapter 4, there are black-and-white photos throughout to clarify the textual instructions. There is also a glossary of Sanskrit terms and an Appendix of courses of pranayama (i.e. recommendations as to how to sequence breathing techniques for optimal results with guidance as to how many sets or repetitions of each to use.) My major criticism is one I’ve offered about previous books from this author and others. There’s a muddle of science and mythology that makes it hard to know how much weight to give particular instructions. It may be that a given piece of advice (e.g. a contraindication) is based on repeated observations of the physical or mental effects, or on a sound understanding of anatomy & physiology. In which case, it makes sense to heed such advice. However, advice can also be based on myths and the desire to preserve a way of thinking about the human body which is wholly unsupported by evidence. In which case, if one has no dog in the fight to preserve egos, it makes sense to disregard said advice. I suspect the vast majority of statements of what to do (or not to) fall into the first category, but some may fall in the latter, and it’s not easy to tell which is which. I would recommend this book for students and teachers of yoga. It’s a good reference for one’s pranayama practice.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    thee book on pranayama. WIll be on the reading shelf for years. it is so dense and thorough. a must for anyone interested in yoga.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Outstanding read! Another example of why one should not judge a book by its cover or by flipping through the pages. I read this first of two required readings on the subject of pranayama thinking it would be the hardest to digest. It was surprisingly very easy to read. Great review of yoga philosophy. Anatomy and physiology is explained in easy to understand terminology and I was amazed at the things I did not know about the human body, specific to the respiratory system, and again reminded of w Outstanding read! Another example of why one should not judge a book by its cover or by flipping through the pages. I read this first of two required readings on the subject of pranayama thinking it would be the hardest to digest. It was surprisingly very easy to read. Great review of yoga philosophy. Anatomy and physiology is explained in easy to understand terminology and I was amazed at the things I did not know about the human body, specific to the respiratory system, and again reminded of what a complex machine the human body is. Wonderfully written in a step by step format to help the reader practice what is being explained. Beautiful analogies used throughout to further help the reader understand the essence of what is being communicated. Excellent glossary in the back of the book to help with Sanskrit terms.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sylvie

    This is a heavy book, defiantly not for beginners as will discourage anybody to try getting into pranayama practice. But if you are serious about what you want from your yoga practice and pranayama especially, use it as a study material rather than just a book to read. This is an educational manual with serious information.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Inna

    One of the greatest books on pranayama! Sri Iyengar explained various pranayama in such a detailed way, that it should be easy for everyone to understand and introduce this beautiful practice to their daily lives.

  7. 4 out of 5

    secondwomn

    took me a long while, but i finally finished reading Iyengar's guide to pranayama practice. exceptionally detailed and full of examples and metaphors to describe experiences. it's a fairly practical guide, and a good resource.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sucheta

    Awesome! coming from a traditional Yoga guru.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jobie

    Great book on Pranayama if you want a lot of detail and a breathing plan. It can be a little tedious. I'm not sure all the information is necessary. Makes a great reference.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Of the loads of useless literature on the field of yoga certainly a recommendable work with a whole 200-week breathing course, described in detail. Something to be practiced, to be sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    You would not believe what a struggle it’s been to get through this book. It’s way over-due and the fines are racking up. :S I would say I hated it and rate it poorly if it were not packed with so much valuable information… but that is part of the problem. The subject of Yoga is so vast and integrated that it would be difficult to learn in depth just one of the eight limbs such as Pranayama without at least some mention of the others. The first half of the book attempts to nutshell much informati You would not believe what a struggle it’s been to get through this book. It’s way over-due and the fines are racking up. :S I would say I hated it and rate it poorly if it were not packed with so much valuable information… but that is part of the problem. The subject of Yoga is so vast and integrated that it would be difficult to learn in depth just one of the eight limbs such as Pranayama without at least some mention of the others. The first half of the book attempts to nutshell much information quoting many treatises by chapter line and verse using English and Sanskrit terms (some defined within the text, some not). I thought it would be good to read over all of this material in hopes to broaden my understanding of the subjects and advance my Sanskrit studies. As it turns out, it’s about as much fun to read as a stereo manual… a shame for such a fascinating subject. I’m finally (after weeks) starting the section on techniques beginning with Ujjayi (ocean sounding breath) that BKS Iyengar has broken down into thirteen stages. THIRTEEN stages? The first four of which are spent in savasana as preparatory stages and it’s suggested that 10 to 15 minutes is spent practicing each stage… okay, now I’m asleep! I’ve come to two very important conclusions from studying this book: 1. With all due respect, I don’t care for Iyengar’s writing style or necessarily subscribe to his particular philosophy on Yoga. 2. Pranayama is just not a subject to be studied without a mentor.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I didn't read all of the information on the techniques, only the introduction to pranayama and yoga. That had nothing to do with Iyengar, and more to do with me changing the topic of my final paper and focusing on other reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This book is the best bathtub reading ever! For short baths.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    This is one I read and re-read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alistair Baillie

    Of all Iyengar's books I've found this one most useful in my yoga training and development

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    A very thorough look at pranayama from the master himself; super detailed instructions, lots of photos, a must for any super serious pranayama student.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lauraeme

    Un libro muy completo sobre las técnicas del pranayama desde un punto de vista teórico y práctico. La parte práctica me parece un tanto difícil de seguir, desde el punto de vista de un principiante en la materia. La parte teórica, en cambio, aporta información útil e interesante en la práctica de yoga y pranayama y aborda el tema desde puntos de vista diferentes (filosofía del yoga, anatomía...).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle Hartstrom

    This book is very in depth, helpful for anyone struggling with pranayama.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dheeraj Mahajan

    Absolute Authority to speak about pranayam...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    the authoritative reference for any yogini to expand, improve and even start their breathing techniques journey.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Agnew

    A classic yoga text. The pictures are rather old fashioned but much of the teaching remains relevant and useful

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aditi

    A great resource for pranayama practices. I highly recommend for anyone who wants to deepen their pranayama practice and understand the benefits.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    hard to follow sometimes... the first few chapters jump around and define a lot of sanskrit words that seem overwhelming. the practice instructions are more towards the back. i'm reading this along with a class i'm taking, so that helps make sense of it all. (and iyengar says to practice with the help of a teacher!)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zaid Rabab'a

    Parnayama the art of breathing I'm in love with this art now, I love the training,examples, etc, some times its so hard to imagine the process by reading alone, Okay now for religious hundu why !!!! I'm reading something about breaking why should I have information about religious hindu every few pages !!! that's why I'm giving 4 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    The first third of this book was inspiring and I copied many of Iyengar's quotes into my journal. The remainder of the book was detailed descriptions of methods of breathing which were filled with Minutia and beyond my yoga practice. Reading this book after devouring his "Light on Yoga" was a disappointment.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeuline

    lil bit heavy.. extreamly detailed and could be clearer done which photos are "how to NOT do" and "how to do".. this couldve been done lots better. altho Iyengar has a fascinating knowledge that I admire, the book is dry..

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan Dumitrescu

    It's a very exhaustive explanation of the breathing techniques practiced in yoga under the name of Pranayama, whereas pranayama is not about the breath is about the movement of the prana (energy).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Manish

    Why does he need to expound Hindu religious philosophies while teaching breathing practices ? while I recommend the book as a health aid, I could easily skip the religious BS.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Cowan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike

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