During the practice of Asanas, it is the body alone which should be active while the brain should remain passive, watchful and alert. If they are done with the brain, then you will not be able to see your own mistakes. ~ Iyengar
In the absence of Asana practice aided by mirrors and heat, my husband and I spent 90 minutes in a technique driven class focused on posture precision at the BKS Iyengar Institute of LA in honour of Guruji’s Birthday. BKS Iyengar turns 94 on the 14th December, so this was an early celebratory class.
In a teaching style that favours props, blankets, and bolsters to support the body, today’s sequence of poses was determined by the teacher based on what she noticed was needed by the group. And that was: strengthening of the quadriceps. This action is termed ‘locking the knee’ in Bikram Yoga -the key to cultivating balance and achieving power in its Standing Series.
As I reflect on the one and a half hour class – posture practice interspersed with teacher-student dialogue, I am gradually learning that it is through a broad embrace of yoga that I am strengthening my own practice. In the case of this class, for example: taking the time to refine the intricacies of an Iyengar style Triangle pose helped me realise, and correct, a couple of bad habits that I had formed in my Bikram style Triangle; hearing an excerpt from Iyengar’s book, Light on Life, gave me plenty to think about in terms of mindfulness (see the words at the end of this post); chanting a collective ‘Om’ reminded me of my internal light, my core – it centred me in class.
Iyengar sums up my thoughts succinctly on yoga as a way of living, “Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.”
In light of Guruji Iyengar’s birthday, I am so grateful to the master yoga teachers who have shared their knowledge and wisdom about this ancient science. They have made yoga accessible to the world.
Personally, I know it is the reason why I am practicing yoga today.
Today’s Iyengar teacher shared an excerpt from Light on Life, in honour of Guruji’s birthday. I am sharing it here with you too. I hope you enjoy.
“The whole educative thrust of yoga is to make things go right in our lives. But we all know that an apple that appears perfect on the outside can have been eaten away by an invisible worm on the inside. Yoga is not about appearances. It is about finding and eradicating the worm, so that the whole apple, from skin inward, can be perfect and a healthy one. That is why yoga, and indeed all spiritual philosophies, seems to harp on the negative – grasping desires, weaknesses, faults, and imbalances. They are trying to catch the worm before it devours and corrupts the whole apple from the inside. This is not a struggle between good and evil. It is natural for worms to eat apples. In yoga we simply do not want to be the apple that is rotted from inside. So yoga insists on examining, scientifically and without value judgement, what can go wrong, and why, and how to stop it. It is organic farming of the self – for the Self.”