The body is the gateway in the Iyengar tradition. Through the asanas or postures we gain physical strength, flexibility, stability and vitality. This prepares us to move deeper into the work through pranayama.
Once we have developed the capacity for the body to support us in a balanced way, we begin to deepen our practice of pranayama, or breath control. Through this delicate and subtle aspect of practice, we can establish a refined ability to concentrate and meditate.
"Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind". This definition of yoga was written 2500 years ago in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The body, breath and mind are completely intertwined. As our asana and pranayama practice evolve, so too does our mind, moving towards a calm, alert state.
"The practice of yogasana for the sake of health, to keep fit or to maintain flexibility is the external practice of yoga. While it is a legitimate place to begin, it is not the end. Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest. The external quest, which brings firmness of body; the inner quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest which brings benevolence of spirit."