Yoga is a deep and personal practice, and one that needs consistent nurturing and tuning. It can be difficult to always find the motivation to keep up with our practices and the strength to continue to turn to yoga when times are hard or we feel run down. The same holds true for life in general: sometimes it takes a little extra help to keep us going.
Among other sources of help and compassion, we often look to the power of quotes to help us get through tough times, motivate ourselves, or find clarity. In the world of yoga, spirituality, and wellness, there is no shortage of moving quotes to help you find inspiration in your daily life and practice.
One of the most inspiring yogis, B.K.S Iyengar, is also one of the most inspiring teachers in our day-to-day lives. His words and teachings have given hope, understanding, clarity, and relief to many of his followers and students.
After digging through some of B.K.S. Iyengar’s most powerful messages, we have found ten ultra-inspiring quotes to help you power through your yoga practice, and life itself.
Who Was B.K.S. Iyengar?
Many students of yoga have, at one point or another, heard of the prolific teacher B.K.S. Iyengar. His teachings helped to bring the value of yoga to the West – and skyrocketed its popularity.
Iyengar was born in 1918 in Karnataka, India. During this time, there was an influenza epidemic and his mother suffered from this illness while pregnant with B.K.S. After his birth, he suffered many health problems, as well as poor mood and depression after the death of his father. In his frail condition, it was proving difficult for B.K.S. to find work and he eventually left to join his uncle in Mysore who taught yoga.
Although his training in yoga started out rough with his physical condition, he began to notice improvements in strength and perseverance. One fateful day, Iyengar stepped up to replace a missing teacher for a yoga demonstration for the visiting royalty. He did a remarkable job and began teaching and training regularly from that day on – much to our benefit today.
The Message and Mission
B.K.S. not only helped further the popularity of yoga throughout the world, but his yogic teachings helped to shape the way we practice today. Iyengar helped to develop and standardize yoga and was a big proponent of using props and modifications in practice. He developed many of the asana modifications we use regularly, such as Parivrtta Trikonasana, and popularized the use of props like straps or blocks. His message: adapt the postures to deepen your awareness and the full experience of the asana. Start where you are, yoga will lead you to where you need to be.
B.K.S. Iyengar maintained a dedicated practice for over 70 years and lived well into his nineties. He helped to develop yoga centers on six continents, and shaped the yoga styles we use today. His anatomical work helped to standardize the practice of yoga, allowing it to become scientifically recognized as a wellness practice by the medical community. Iyengar translated ancient yoga teachings into a modern framework that allowed us to adopt the practice as the mind-body medicine we know and love today.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.
Iyengar was stricken with multiple illnesses in his youth, so much so that doctors of the time believed he wouldn’t live past twenty. Sadly, his family and neighbors were also victims to illness and he was saddened by the passing of his friends and family members.
This quote highlights how Iyengar stepped out of his depression and into a more harmonized relationship with life – through yoga.
Yoga has the power to heal our bodies in a holistic, natural way. Our dedication to the practice (with the help of a compassionate teacher) can often lead us to great health successes. Endless stories recount how yoga helped to transform one’s excruciating back pain, clear depression and anxiety, or even fall pregnant. But the other power of yoga is to help us realize that not everything in life can be cured, but we can still find power to confront and move past these obstacles.
Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.
Iyengar had a knack for understanding how the body, mind, and movement played together to create the beautiful practice of yoga. This quote shines a light on how he saw the intricate integration of the body during yoga, and in life. Yoga is like music, and life is the symphony. We can harmonize the aspects of our being to fully enjoy and appreciate this beautiful composition of life.
Breath is the king of the mind.
Yogis the world over understand and respect the power of the breath. The breath helps us to deepen our practice and transform yoga from a purely physical experience to one of mind and body, body and soul.
Iyengar highlights in this quote how very powerful the breath is for our mental health. Since his early teachings, science has proven that breath and breathing exercises can lower stress, reduce anxiety, change heart rate, and relax the body overall. Control your breath, and you control the mind.
The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it.
This quote of B.K.S. Iyengar provides us with a beautiful way to look at life’s difficulties – including your yoga practice! He reminds us that hard times are necessary, but there is always a deeper value, a beauty, a light within. This quote also speaks to the idea that what is obviously useful in things is not always the most important quality. The strength and durability of a diamond makes it useful to us, but what we truly value is the light.
Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known existed.
Iyengar found physical and mental freedom through yoga. His physical and mental health were compromised when he began his yoga practice, but through daily dedication he found a new freedom. His practice eventually led him to a fruitful career, a pathway to helping others, creative expression, health, longevity, and a massive legacy. What kind of freedom will yoga offer you?
There is no difference in souls, only the ideas about ourselves that we wear.
This quote is a deep call to loosen the ego we clothe ourselves in and open up to the idea that we really are all the same. Our souls are connected, we just look for ways to be different. Iyengar believed in community, sharing, and a deeper connection to the universe. Yoga makes this possible. It strips our ideas of who we are and leaves us simplified: one with the world around us.
Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.
How many of us today feel broken, messed-up, or hopeless? Depression levels are rising and suicide is a major problem in our modern society. We take a magnifying glass to our imperfections and try to clumsily fit our “broken” pieces together.
Iyengar teaches us that yoga helps us to see our true value. We cannot be broken because we are already whole, just as we are.
Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.
Seeking for motivation in your practice? Iyengar speaks to our deep need for something stable to hold on to for peace and security. He reminds us that yoga is always there for us, waiting to light the way. Iyengar was a dedicated practitioner, and his dedication was clear in his teachings and love for the practice. His advice: keep up your practice and forever be guided by the bright light of yoga .
Be inspired, but not proud.
These days, there is inspiration everywhere. Social media, mentors, nature, etc… wherever you find your inspiration, go with it! Inspiration leads us to do great things and change the world. Iyengar urges, however, to not let inspiration lead you to pride. There is always more to learn, more to experience. Always engage with the world as an eager student and curious fool.
Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.
Perhaps you can speak to the powerful changes that occur in your heart and mind when you take up a yoga practice. You learn to see the good in situations, you focus on your inner space more, and you are likely a more positive influence on your friends, family, and coworkers.
Yoga changes the way you see the world. But it also changes you. With a consistent yoga practice, you are regularly focusing on the good, the balanced, and the beautiful. You practice gratitude more frequently and more fully. You connect with others and yourself. These practices will transform your body and your mind. You are changed.
Live the Message
B.K.S. Iyengar has been instrumental in redesigning the practice of yoga and how we, especially in the West, engage with the practice. Because of Iyengar’s teachings and legacies, we can better understand our bodies and ourselves.
These few quotes by this legendary master are a small gift that he has left us with. He was a tough teacher, but a true mentor. Use these words to help you through tough times, to defeat your demons, and to inspire a consistent and dedicated practice. Then, like Iyengar himself, pass it on.