SOME PEOPLE SPEAK OF PHYSICAL
YOGA, MENTAL YOGA, SPIRITUAL YOGA.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
Desikachar: Yoga is a relationship. It is
not that the body is not important—
the body is very important; it is the
temple—but a transformation in the
body cannot happen without a good
relationship with the mind. Whatever
happens in the body aﬀects the mind
and whatever happens in the mind
aﬀects the body. And whatever happens
in the emotional body aﬀects the mind,
as well. But the essence of yoga is often
not taught through the body. What is
essential and needs to be taught is the
spirit of yoga, and that people don’t
Iyengar: Refer to my books and CD.
Asanas are not meant for physical
ﬁtness, but for conquering the elements,
energy, and so on. So, how to balance
the energy in the body, how to control
the ﬁve elements, how to balance the
various aspects of the mind without
mixing them all together, and how to be
able to perceive the diﬀerence between
the gunas [qualities], and to experience
that there is something behind them,
operating in the world of man—that is
what asanas are for. The process is slow
and painstaking, but a steady inquiry
facilitates a growing awareness.
Pattabhi Jois: Yoga is one. God is one.
Yoga means sambandaha, which is atma
manah samyogah, or knowing God
inside you. But using it only for physical
practice is no good, of no use—just a
lot of sweating, pushing, and heavy
breathing for nothing. The spiritual
aspect, which is beyond the physical, is
the purpose of yoga. When the nervous
system is puriﬁed, when your mind rests
in the atman [the Self], then you can
experience the true greatness of yoga.
EXCERPT FROM 3 GURUS, 48 QUESTIONS: MATCHING INTERVIEWS WITH SRI T.K.V. DESIKACHAR, SRI B.K.S. IYENGAR & SRI K. PATTABHI JOIS, Interviews by R. ALEXANDER MEDIN, Edited by DEIRDRE SUMMERBELL