Sparks of Divinity, The teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar from 1959 to 1975– A Book Recommendation

Noelle Perez-Christiaens was one of the first westerners students of Guruji. She travelled to Pune as early as 1959 to study with him and spent a few years there. The foreword of the book asks: “Who was this brave young woman who traveled alone to India in 1959?”

Guruji was directing her on a one-to-one basis. She was amazed by his “precise and refined technique” and by his sayings. She wrote down in her notebook “the master’s remarks about how to see the world, the philosophy of yoga, his devotion to the Divine, and his love of human beings.”

Noelle was charmed by Guruji’s kind personality and by his wisdom, she writes in her diary: “I would like to stay a long time, to pump all this wisdom that is so simple, so human and so divine at the same time”… “Here I am around a sage who does not know that he is a sage, who has a wife he loves as much as a Hindu can love, meaning ten times more than us…”

The book includes Noelle’s diary from these years; quotations of Guruji from 1959 to 1975 ordered by years and a section about his early life.

Here are some quotations:

About Pranayama:

“When we are aware of the fact that without breathing there is no life, we feel grateful to God, who gives life through breathing. We surrender out life to God during exhalation, and we receive our life from God during inhalation. As long as we do pranayama, we surrender ourselves to this meditation.” (from 1959, p. 37)

“The yogic pranayama, or breathing techniques, are meditative in their origin and in their effect. Consisting basically of breath inhalation, breath retention, and breath exhalation, their rhythmic movement stills the mind by withdrawing the senses and helps one uncover the depths of the Self.” (from 1968, p. 84)

About Meditation:

The brain must be flexible; the body must be rigid as stone. When the brain is perfectly calm, then meditation begins. (from 1972, p. 119)

When in meditation, look with your ears, not with the eyes… Ears bring the art of silence. Eyes bring the art of action. (p. 119)

Meditation is a fine supreme consciousness in which there is no duality. (p. 88)

The energy of the brain descending to the seat of the mind, the energy of the mind ascending towards the brain, where they both meet, is the seat of the soul. And there you must live, and that is meditation. (p. 154)


It is astonishing for me that as early as 1959, when Guruji was only 41 years old, he already had such a refine wisdom, and his concise sayings are so beautiful and inspiring me.

I strongly recommend Noelle’s book!