The Tree of Yoga by BKS Iyengar was recommended to me by one of my best friends Sadiya. She is amazing by the way and if you have time I would definitely recommend that you check out her youtube channel here as well! When I lived in New York, she was my yoga/spiritual partner. There were not many people where we lived that thought like us. So when she recommended this book to me, I knew it was going to be good….I just didn’t know how good.
Pretty much, Iyengar breaks yoga down in the most simplest way. I feel as though because it was translated to English, it is very straight forward. No running around, beating around the bush, or adding extra fluff and philosophical jargon. Everything is clear and concise as if Iyengar was talking to you himself, as if he was speaking to a child.
Within the first few pages my. mind. was. BLOWN. Granted I know quite a bit about the topic of yoga, but this book broke it ALL THE WAY DOWN. I felt as though I barely scratched the surface before reading this gem. I don’t think I have ever highlighted and underlined a book so much in my life. Such a little book with SO much knowledge!
The Tree of Yoga is broken down in five parts: Part One-Yoga and Life, Part Two- The Tree and its Parts, Part Three- Yoga and Health, Part Four- The Self and its Journey, and lastly Part Five- Yoga in the World. Throughout it all BKS Iyengar gives personal accounts and most definitely speaks from experience.
In Part One- Yoga and Life, Iyengar explains what yoga is, simply. He talks about the individual and society, East and West, the aims of life, childhood, love and marriage, family, old age and death. These chapters are rather short.
In Part Two Iyengar breaks down the tree of yoga and all of its parts. He first explains the depths of what asana is. There are, of course, are eight parts of yoga (some may know them as The Eight Limbs of Yoga): 1 the roots- yama, 2 the trunk- niyama, 3 the branches- asanas, 4 the leaves- pranayama, 5 the bark- pratyahara, 6 the sap- dharana, 7 the flower- dhyana, and finally 8 the fruit- samadhi. Of course a detailed description is given for each part of the tree of yoga!
Part Three discusses yoga and health. Health as a whole, the products of yoga and the by-products, the differences/similarities of yoga and ayurvedic medicine, the practical approach of yoga, the art of prudence and yoga as an art are all discussed here.
Part Four is about the Self and its journey. My favorite section in Part Four is when Iyengar talked about the true state of meditation. It was a little upsetting because he explained that how we “meditate” is not necessarily how a yogi should “meditate”. Meditation is not something that you can do or practice. I will let you read the book to understand what this means.
Part Five is short and sweet and talks about yoga in the world. Iyengar concludes talking about those that teach yoga and what it truly means to be a yoga teacher.
Overall, I would recommend that anyone who is interested in or practices yoga should read The Tree of Yoga as it gives an in depth look as to what yoga truly is…beyond what you see on social media and the internet. If you are truly looking for the real benefits of yoga or to gain more understanding on the subject, this book is for you. I know this will be in my personal library FOREVER and it is definitely one of those books that you reference or re read every few years!
You can purchase the book here
If you have read this book, or if you do read this book, pleas come back and tell me what you got from it!