Spring 2017

Seeing with the Back Body

“To See with the Back Body is to see with the Self.” BKS Iyengar

The Sadana, the inner Practice, is the evolution of Perception, which demands inquiry to bring Integration. It prompts us, prior to Action, to bring our awareness to Observation and, prior to Observation, to the State of Reflection.

As BKS Iyengar says in Light On Life, “While working in Asana, if the Action is ‘done’ solely from the front brain, it blocks the reflective action of the back brain. The form of each Asana needs to be reflected to the Wisdom Body the Vijanamaya Kosa, for readjustment and realignment. When asana is done mechanically from the front brain the action is felt only on the peripheral body and there is no inner sensation, no luminous inner Light.” This “Reflective” state of readjustment and realignment from the back brain is reflected in the awakening and enlivened Presence of the back body itself. Prior to Observation, and Action is Reflection which brings Integration.
“Reflection, Observation, Action, Integration.” BKS Iyengar



Iyengar Yoga Workshop with Kevin Gardiner
March , 2015

In Light on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I:17 BKS Iyengar comments, “Through Practice and Detachment four types of awareness develop: Vitarka, Vicarra, Ananda, and Asmita.” He calls them “The Rewards of Practice.”
In the initial phases of asana practice our efforts go toward stabilizing the embodiment. There is a tension in the muscles and the nerves, and in the eyes as we search to find balance. In this sense we try to bring the asana to the body. In this phase of practice the quality of intelligence is inherent but dormant, so our first steps must be to awaken it. The intelligence comes to the surface of the cellular body through stretch and the physiological body by maintaining the pose.
Once awakened, the intelligence reveals its dynamic aspect, its ability to discriminate. The Methodology speaks to our direction in the practice and says: “Now take the Body to the Asana, to its iconic form, its symmetry, and structure.” As we bring the body to the pose there is a vibrant inner refinement, a logic and analysis. A deliberate effort to search and penetrate (tapas) emerges. Our eyes and the front of the brain become quiet as we begin to see this logic. This is Vitarka: deliberate thinking and study which leads to the final point or root cause. Its seat is the front brain.
In the presentation of the asana, in this process of investigation and reflection, the wondering brain comes to stillness, mental depth, and subtlety. This is a gradual process from the gross body to subtle mind, to refined space, resonance and Light, toward the core of our Being. “The logic and reasoning of the asana are fulfilled.” From corrective thinking we move to a relishing, appreciative consciousness. The brain retreats from front to back. This is Vicara.
“The Sadhaka, is one with himself. His Asana, breath, effort and his very being are one with the millions of cells in his body. This integrity brings bliss: Ananda“. Its seat is the bottom of the brain.
Finally, when the conscious mechanism by which we perform asana comes to an end, the process reaches a resting point. This is the auspicious state of Asmita, contemplation of the Self by the self devoid of ego. The Asana is then “Upasana” as one sits close to the Purusa, close to the Infinite. The asana rests only on the inner self which is in poise, its only support is asmita.” Its seat is the crown of the head.
From the Head to the Heart with Love and Devotion the understanding happens…. “I” am not in the body, the body is in me.


  1. Awesome! Thank you so much for posting. I just recently got started with Iyengar yoga and it is amazing! I wrote that it helped me lose weight here: https://www.panaprium.com/yoga-for-weight-loss-for-beginners/ What do you think?

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