General Philosophy > Family Life
By BKS Iyengar
January 1, 2004

Family Life 
by B K S Iyengar

Throughout all the years, and in spite of all my family commitments, I have never stopped doing yoga. I have not stopped for one simple reason, which you could call gratitude. The one thing which has lifted me to the level I am at today is the practice of asanas. I taught them as a physical exercise in the 1930s, not knowing what I should teach and what I should not teach, but with determination to come up in the world and to bring respect to this little-known and misunderstood art.

I pray to Lord Patarijali, to whom I am indebted for having built me up to this level. I was a dumb student. I didn't even score pass marks at school. I am not even a high school graduate. My education is zero. But from that non-education, yoga has led me to meet people of all walks of life and to discover the world. I learned English only by contact. I continued to practise yoga, but people insisted that I teach, I knew only two things: how to do and how to teach. While practising or teaching, I could express the outer beauty of an asana with utmost inner attention. Beyond that I knew nothing.

I did not neglect my practice, nor did I neglect my family. The problem with many of us is ambition. You want to perform the asanas as you see me perform them, but you forget that I have been practising yoga for more than fifty years, whereas you are just beginning. An ambitious or impatient approach will bring you illness - physical illness or mental illness. So treat the practice of yoga as pan of your life, allowing it space within your normal activities.

As I have said, there is a culmination in self-realisation. The end goal is the sight of the soul. If one had no end in view, one would not do the work. We can reach the infinite, but we must do so with the finite means at our disposal. Anything done spasmodically has only a spasmodic effect. If you only practise spasmodically, you cannot expect to maintain the sensitivity of intelligence nor the maturity in the effort required to progress towards the ultimate goal. You must cultivate a certain discipline so that you can maintain that creative sensitivity. Instead of working as and when you feel, it is better to work regularly every day in order to maintain the quality of the effects. If your practice is irregular, there will still be some effects, but they will not be of the same quality.
When you have provided a framework of regular practice within the structure of your daily life, you can leave it to the divine force to act in its own time. When divine grace comes, experience it, and go on working. If divine grace does not come today, it may come after twenty years. Even if it never comes, continue to work - at least you have attained health and happiness, and if health and happiness come, that in itself is divine grace.

Do not have it in your mind that you should have something extraordinary to show to other people. If you put a seed in the ground today and say, 'In ten days I want fruit,' does it come? The fruit comes naturally, does it not? When the tree is ready to bear fruit, it comes. Even if you say, 'I want it, I want it!' it does not come any sooner. But when you think that the tree is not going to give you fruit at all, all of a sudden you see the fruit grow. It has to come naturally, not artificially. So work, and let it come or let it not come, but continue your practice. Then, even if you have a family life and family commitments, there are no problems.

If I were a sannyasin, I might say you should all become sannyasins and renounce family life to follow a spiritual path. A sannyasin does not know the householder's life, so it is easy for him to say, 'Leave your family, divorce, and come to me.' These days, many people who are involved in yoga forget their duties towards their children, or towards their husbands or wives. This is not a yogic attitude, but the attitude of a fanatic. The yogis of ancient India were householders, and reached the zenith of yoga while living amidst household activities, surrounded by families and children. As a family man I say, 'Why should you abandon your family commitments?' You have to find out your own limitations. That is what yoga teaches: first to know your limitations, then to build from them. Then even if you have ten or fifteen children, this need not be an obstacle to your spiritual development.'

from The Tree of Yoga by B K S Iyengar

 
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