Our Gem For Women: Dr. Geeta Iyengar

“The hardness of a diamond is part of its usefulness, but its true value is in the light that shines through it.” - BKS Iyengar

It is with great sadness that we write to announce the passing of a true diamond: Geetaji. At the heels of her father’s centennial celebration and her own birthday, the sorrow of losing her could fill a river.

Although as we all know, it is a river that must continue to flow, because in it we carry the influence of her great works in our tears and the Samskara, deep impressions of her light reflects on their surface.

In her 2014 Birthday Intensive, she spoke candidly about her struggle to go on with the conference after her father’s passing, but she knew his spirit wanted her to. She humbly promised she would do her best to carry on his work. She talked about how the human condition has two distinct parts: birth and death. In between, there is always some pain. We are feeling that pain again. 

In the comments below, I hope that students who have had the great honor of being under the magical influence of Dr. Geeta Iyengar’s instruction and the effulgent light of her soul will share their experiences with us, so we can keep the river of Iyengar wisdoms ever flowing.

Namaste.

Celebrating 100 Years of Light On Us

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BKS Iyengar, the World's Best Yoga Teacher passed away August 20, 2014. Today he would have been 100 years old. He is renown for his life's work in developing a systematic method of teaching the eight-limbed path of Astanga Yoga to the masses. Several years ago, as a tribute to Mr. Iyengar and his inexhaustible work, I started a list of reasons why everyone should experience Iyengar Yoga. I urge Iyengar practitioners to contribute, add to, enhance or correct my attempts here. Please keep in mind while I am a Certified Iyengar Instructor, I am and will always be a student. I am by no means a master of Iyengar's work. The choice and order of my reasons were approached very organically and based on my humble idea of how to begin. Needless to say, this list is not in the right Krama (sequential order), though some effort has been applied to do so. As I gain more Light from the study and practice of Iyengar's work, I will probably want to change this list. For now, I just keep adding to it every year. It is a small tribute to a man I will never meet, yet who has affected my life in profound ways. Perhaps it will also serve to encourage at least one person to explore The Iyengar Method for themselves. 



1.  Alignment matters:  Poor body alignment leads to poor bone, muscle, joint, and ligament alignment. improve your body alignment and you extend the life and vitality of the body.


2.  Alignment matters:  Poor body alignment leads to poor health. When the body is misaligned it puts undo stress on all the systems of the body, decreasing function and capability. Improve your body alignment you improve your health.


3.  Alignment matters:  Poor body alignment leads to poor mind alignment.  When the body is misaligned, the mind is constantly troubled by tamasic (dull/heavy) and rajasic (fiery/active) states of mind and unable to reach a harmonious sattvic state. Improve your body alignment you improve the state of your mind.


4.  Alignment matters:   Poor body alignment leads to poor emotional alignment. When the body is misaligned the emotions are troubled and mentally imprisoned by the kleśas (five afflictions) Improve your body alignment and you improve your emotional health.


5.  Alignment matters:   Poor body alignment leads to poor inner alignment.  Improve your body alignment and you improve your connection to your true self.


6.  Alignment matters:  Poor body alignment leads to poor breath alignment.  Improve your body alignment and you improve your ability to bring this vital nutrient to more areas of the body and tap into your own life force energy.


7.  Alignment matters:  Poor body alignment leads to poor energy alignment.  Improve your body alignment and you improve the alignment of (72,0000) energy or nadi channels in the body.


8.  Alignment matters:  Poor internal alignment leads to poor external alignment.  Improve your internal alignment and you improve you ability to align with the world around you.


9.   Alignment matters:  Poor alignment with your community responsibilities leads to poor community integration and support. Improve your alignment with your community responsibilities and you improve your standing in your community.


10. Alignment matters:   Poor alignment with healthy habits leads to poor alignment with your aspirations in life. Improve the alignment of your personal habits and you clear a path to your goals.


11.  Dedication pays:  Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method will enable your highest self to unfold naturally.


12.  Dedication pays:   Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method will enable you to focus to such an extent that learning anything becomes easier and more accessible.


13.  Dedication pays:   Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method teaches you to know yourself --your habits, your strengths, your weaknesses, your emotional state, your conscious state, your ignorance, your intelligence, your wisdom, your sense of grace and compassion for yourself and others.


14.  Dedication pays:   Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method gives you wisdom and discretion.


15.  Dedication pays:   Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method systematically and compassionately opens new pathways to healing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


16. Dedication pays:  Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method gives you courage so you can liberate yourself from your fears, stresses, and anxieties.


17.  Dedication pays:  Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method teaches you safe ways to push your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual abilities through the use of props and other resources.


18.  Dedication pays:  Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method demonstrates how small successes can accomplish big goals.


19.  Dedication pays:   Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method gracefully shifts what and how you choose to engage your mind, body, and spirit; whether that's choosing a healthier diet, or reading, watching, and listening with more discernment.


20.  Dedication pays:  Dedicating yourself to the study and practice of the Iyengar Method gives you the tools, the words, and the experience to share what you have learned with others.


21. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: "Transformation is achieved through sustained change, and it is achieved through practice." - BKS Iyengar


22. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  "Knowledge is always something that is universal.  It is not meant for one person.  It is not individual, but every individual contributes.  When knowledge goes in the right direction and ignorance is removed it takes all of us in the same direction. So I learn when you learn.  When you feel, and you understand, that gives knowledge to me.  In a similar manner when I give knowledge to you, you also start to understand."   Geeta S. Iyengar.  


23. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  "The intelligence […] grows faster vertically than horizontally." - BKS Iyengar.  (Vertical = Intelligence, Horizontal = Wisdom).


24.  Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Learning to stand first roots the body's intelligence in the feet first providing what is known as "base intelligence."


25.  Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Learning to root the body from the base enables vertical growth to happen.


26.  Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Learning standing poses enables the practitioner to activate and grow the intelligence in the outer limbs and basic structures of the body.


27. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Mobilizing the mind to activate the outer limbs of the body through extension develops a firm foundation and fundamental intelligence needed for standing forward bends.


28.  Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Standing extensions and forwards bends mobilizes the gluteals and teaches the concavity actions necessary for seated forward bends.


29. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Seated forward bends increase the flexibility in the gluteal, sacral, and coccyx regions to prepare the body for lateral extensions (twisting).


30. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Standing upright teaches the elements of inverted standing poses on our shoulders, hands, forearms, and head.


31. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Standing, forward bends, lateral extensions, and inversions, ready the abdomen for deep abdominal contractions.


32. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Mastering the proper alignment of the sacral and coccyx regions along with the concavity actions of the upper back prepare the body for the introduction of preliminary back bending poses.


33. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Systematic learning enables the body, mind, and intelligence to awaken gracefully and compassionately.


34. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Sequencing is not provided in a haphazard way according to the instructor's whim, it is progressive to foster maximum growth of the mind and body at every stage of development.


35. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Systematic learning frees the body and intelligizes the mind while increasing awareness how different sequences stimulate the adrenals, while other sequences pacify the adrenals while still others stimulate the pituitary and thyroid glands to balance the hormones.


36. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  The Iyengar Method systematically teaches in order to stimulate specific systems in the body in order to bring more physical, mental, and emotional balance.


37. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: From a more balanced body, "the body becomes a universe for the mind to travel within."  BKS Iyengar.


38. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Once vertical intelligence is achieved horizontal wisdom can flourish.  The intelligence can spread to occupy every minute area of the body creating space. This is what BKS refers to as a "yogic mind".


39.  Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning: Once a "yogic mind" is developed physical and mental health flourishes and control of intensity in action, relaxation, or stillness are in your hands.


40. Study of The Iyengar Method Quickens Learning:  Once a "yogic mind" is developed the body and mind can evolve in such a way as to ready itself towards deeper inner awareness or "involution".


41. Dedicated Study in the Iyengar Method Makes Discipline Easy: Once the "yogic mind" is developed the Yamas (Global Disciplines) and the Niyamas (Self-Disciplines) naturally follow." They are meant to train, channel and purify the energy of the organs of action and senses of perception ." "The principals of yama tame the organs of action. Yama strengthens dama -restraint of the senses; whereas the principles of niyama bring śama - calmness and quietness in mind due to simplicity in life." --BKS Iyengar Aṣṭadala Yogamālā- Vol. 1


42.  Dedicated Study in the Iyengar Method Makes Discipline Easy:  Once the Yamas and Niyamas are cultivated higher levels of āsana follow naturally.


43.  Dedicated Study in the Iyengar Method Makes Discipline Easy: Once the Yamas, Niyamas, and Āsanas are mastered, the discipline of Prānāyāma follows naturally.


44.  Dedicated Study in the Iyengar Method Makes Discipline Easy: Once the discipline of the Yamas, Niyamas, Āsanas, and Prānāyāma  become a natural part of the practitioners life, a discipline of sense withdrawal or Pratyahara naturally follows.


45.   Dedicated Study in the Iyengar Method Makes Discipline Easy:  Once the discipline of the Yamas, Niyamas, Āsanas, Prānāyāma and Pratyāhāra become a natural part of the practitioners life, Dhārnā (concentration) and Dhyāna (meditation) can be cultivated naturally in succession.

 

46.   The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity:  Integrity in his physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual life. 

 

47. The Iyengar Method was Developed by a Man of Integrity:  BKS Iyengar has dedicated over 80 years of his life to analyzing his own practice and discovering ways to give voice to the subtleties required to evolve every āsana. His early practice was up to 10 hours a day. At 95 he continued a 3-hour daily āsana practice with a 1-hour pranayama practice.  It has been said that he said he has to continue practicing because he hasn't been able to access "every cell" in his body yet. 

 

48.  The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity:  He has a rigorous teacher training program to ensure his teachers can safely and systematically develop students physically, mentally and emotionally into a more yogic state of balance and alignment.

 

49.  The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: He systematically gives voice to instruction that will eventually bring about an evolution, whereby the student begins to experience Sthira Sukham Āsanam (Sutra 11:47, sweet, stable, comfortable yoga pose within a vibration of oneness), so that Prayatna śaithila ananta samāpattibhām (Sutra 11:48, the effort to perform the pose becomes effortless), and Tatah dvandva ānabhighātah (Sutra 11:49 from that dualities cease to disturb or constrain us).


50.   The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: BKS Iyengar has written over 20 books like some of the following:

 

• Arogya Yoga

• Light on Asthanga Yoga

• Art of Yoga

• Light on Pranayama

• Astadala Yoga Mala - 1

• Light on Yoga

• Astadala Yoga Mala - 2

• Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

• Astadala Yoga Mala - 3

• Tree of Yoga

• Astadala Yoga Mala - 4

• Yoga - A Path to Holistic Health

• Astadala Yoga Mala - 5

• Yoga – Ek Kalpataru

• Illustrated Light on Yoga

• Light on Life

• Growing Young

• YAUGIKA MANAS

• Yog Depict

51.  The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity:  He trained his children in the art of yoga.


52.  The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: His daughter Geeta, son Prashant and granddaughter, Abhijata chose to continue the legacy of his work with the same integrity.


53.   The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: With the help of his daughter Geeta he has developed Guidelines for Teachers of Yoga.


54.    The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: He upheld the ethical guidelines set out by Patañjali. He fostered his daughter Geeta's passion towards women's issues and health. Her definitive guide for women Yoga: A Gem For Women has been a great resource for women interested in yoga all over the world.


55.   The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity:  He fostered his son Prashant's exploration into subtler whelms of yoga.  Prashant is the author of several books:

 

  • Prashant Uvacha

  • Yoga and the New Millennium

  • Organology and sensology in Yogash_stra

  • Class After Class

  • Alpha and Omega of Trikonasana


56. The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity:  He doesn't waiver from his roots and yet he is constantly dissecting those roots to learn more so he can share more with all of us.

 

57. The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: Please click on this link to read another recent tribute: Ingela’s Reflection, Guruji Turning 95, An Artist, Scientist; Philosopherforever learning, sharing; helping.  


58. The Iyengar Method was developed by a Man of Integrity: "Yoga, as practiced by Mr. Iyengar, is the dedicated votive offering of a man who brings himself to the altar, alone and clean in body and mind, focused in attention and will, offering in simplicity and innocence not a burnt sacrifice, but simply himself raised to his own highest potential." --Yehundi Menuhin in forward of Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar


59.  The Iyengar Method Works:  It progressively teaches the science of yoga, the art of yoga, and the philosophy of yoga. All of which result in the development of "a fresh mind" state.   


60.  The Iyengar Method Works:  "If we maintain that state in our daily lives, that is known as integration. To be fully integrated means to integrate oneself totally from the body to the self and also to live in integration with one's neighbors and surroundings." --Tree of Yoga, BKS Iyengar


61.  The Iyengar Method Works: Iyengar constantly analyzes the details of ancient texts such as  Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā and Patañjali's Yoga SutrasHis method is based on developing what these texts define as the primary goal of yoga, which is to "Prana-vrtti-nirodha" or stilling the fluctuations of the breath and "Citta vritta nirodha" stilling the fluctuations of the mind. When movements of consciousness are restrained, a space is created, much like the space between inhalations and exhalations. As that space expands, a realization begins: that consciousness has no light of its own. It is dependent on something else.  Much like the interplay between the Sun- Ha and the Moon-tha.  The Ha=Sun=Hot=day=light=atma=soul and tha=Moon=Cool=night=dark=chitta=consciousness. The moon is merely reflecting the light of the sun.  However, without the cooling effects of the moon, the energy of the sun would burn. Iyengar's Method works on the idea that the balance of Ha and tha is an imperative, which puts one on the path to experiencing the even greater force within the various levels of samadhi -absorption.


62.  The Iyengar Method Works:  Iyengar uses personal experience and constant reassessment to teach us how we can use the breath to control the consciousness, while in turn controlling the consciousness through regulation of the breath. 


63.  The Iyengar Method Works: Iyengar has systematically broken through the Western belief that yoga is only a physical exercise by teaching and abiding by the Eight Limbs Of Astanga Yoga: 1) Yama 2)Niyama 3) Āsana 4) Prānāyāma 5) Pratyāhāra 6) Dhārnā 7) Dhyāna 8) Samādhi.


64.  The Iyengar Method Works:  Iyengar's book Tree of Yoga serves as a guide to how yoga goes beyond the studio and permeates in all aspect of our lives to bring us more freedom and peace.


65.  The Iyengar Method Works: Iyengar is known as the first real "class" teacher of yoga.  He has developed a method that communicates according to the students ability. "In the majority of pupils, the intellect of the head is very strong, but the body does not react to the volition of the brain. Usually, their brain acts as the subject, but you have to learn to treat the brain as an object and the body as a subject.  This is the first lesson yoga teaches.  When that is learnt, the effect of yoga is very quick." Tree of Yoga.


66.  The Iyengar Method Works:  The Method works no matter if you are well or sick, young or old, energetic or lazy, well formed or deformed.


67.  The Iyengar Method Works: Iyengar has a knowledge of the causes of the disease.  His Method integrates therapeutics that work on chronic issues by strengthening surrounding areas before addressing the affected area.


68.  The Iyengar Method Works:  It could be said, The Method's therapeutic approach is based on Sutra II.16, heyaṁ duḥkham anāgatham, which according to BKS Iyengar's Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali is interpreted, "The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided." 


69.  The Iyengar Method Works: In the article linked above, "Therapeutics in Iyengar Yoga: 'Your Job is to Put the Student on the Path to Yoga'", by Stephanie Quirk, "[In The Iyengar Method] we have Abhyāsa and Vairāgya. No alternative health method has this. Your job as a yoga teacher isn’t to be someone’s doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist. Your job is to put the patient/student on the path of yoga. They must become followers and practitioners if they are to finally eradicate all trace of what disturbs them (dosha). Abhyāsa (practice) and Vairāgya (detachment) are at the core of everything one has to undertake. They are the irreducible plinths upon which yoga is based, and what truly separates the yogic path from other alternative health therapies."

70. The Iyengar Method Works:  The first book written on the technique of yoga with detailed descriptions and photographs, Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar is still the best resource on the proper practice of the yoga Āsana and Prānāyāma.  First published in 1966, it was written based on Iyengar's 27 years of experience at the time. The book covers 200 āsanas, bandha, kriya, and pranayama with over 600 photographs. 


71.  The Iyengar Method Works:  In addition to descriptive books on technique, the Iyengars also provide "Hints and Cautions" in order to assure the student is learning in the safest and most effective environment.  However, despite the many books and resources, Iyengar always stresses the importance of experience and study with an Iyengar Certified Instructor or Master Teacher to guide your progress. 

 

72.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  He recognizes the nine obstacles that impede progress on the path of yoga.

 

Vyadi: Illness

Styāna: Langour, mental stagnation

Samṥaya: Doubt

Pramāda: Heedlessness, lack of foresight

Ālasya: Sloth, fatigue

Āvirati: Dissipation, overindulging

Bhrāntidarshana: False views, illusions

Ālabdhabhūmikatva: Lack of perseverance

Anavasthitatva: Instability, regression


73.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  The physical obstacles, which can range from laziness to disease are overcome through the Iyengar Method with the use of all kinds of props. Props make poses possible (even in illness) for everyone (removing doubt, laziness, and fatigue) which encourages the perseverance in practice that will begin to break through these obstacles.


74.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: The other obstacles are mental obstacles. These can range from doubt and illusion to idleness.  Iyengar recognizes that when teachers pace lessons they can begin to develop a student's mental faculties in order to reduce the mental obstacles while sharpening focus and stamina.


75.   Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: The five kleśas 1. Avidyā(Ignorance) 2. Asmitā(ego)3. Rāga (attachment) 4. Dveșa(aversion) 5. Abhiniveṥa(fear of death) along with the nine obstacles serve as distractions that scatter the mind. Iyengar's method works to significantly reduce the hold the nine obstacles and five kleśas have on the student in order to create a better foundation for progress. 


76.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by in the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: Iyengar encourages self-study or svadhyaya.  


77.   Iyengar follows the yoga guided by in the 196 Sutras of PatañjaliBy concentrating on a particular object the consciousness becomes serene.  Iyengar makes the āsana the object of focus. When the student becomes engrossed in the study of āsana, the mind steadies fostering deeper progress.


78.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 sutras of Patañjali: “The yogi conquers the body by the practice of āsanas and makes it a fit vehicle for the spirit. He knows that it is a necessary vehicle for the spirit. A soul without a body is like a bird deprived of its power to fly.” - BKS Iyengar, Light On Yoga.


79.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  Though only three (to five according to Aṣṭadala Yogamālā- Vol. 1) sutras are attributed to the practice of āsana. Āsana helps the student move from the gross to the subtle - from the external to the internal.  Iyengar's method concentrates on the external alignment in āsana in order to create the environment to penetrate and align the internal world of the student.


80. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: "Whatever āsana one performs, it should be done with a feeling of firmness and endurance in the body, good will in the intelligence of the head, and awareness and benevolent delight in the seat of the heart." BKS Iyengar Aṣṭadala Yogamālā-- Vol 2.


81.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patanjali:  Only after the perfection of asana (Sutras 11:47, 11:48, 11:49) is a student to begin Prānāyāma.


82. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  Prānāyāma must be introduced gently. In his book Light on Prānāyāma, Iyengar covers the 14 basic types of Prānāyāma broken down into a careful formulation of 82 stages so that the student can safely progress. He outlines the difficulties and dangers while providing a detailed 200-week course to help avoid them. To explain the power of prana he said, "Hindus often say that GOD is Generator, Organizer, and Destroyer.  Inhalation is the generating power, retention is the organizing power, and exhalation, if the energy is vicious, is the destroyer. This is prana at work.  Vigor, power, vitality, life, and spirit are all forms of prana."


83.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: Iyengar takes great care in his teachings on Prānāyāma. "[…]breath-control, that is Prānāyāma is not merely deep breathing or breathing exercises, normally a part of physical culture.  It is something far more, involving exercises which affect not only the physical, physiological and neural energies but also the psychological and cerebral activities, such as memory-training and creativity." --R.R.  Divwakar in Forward of Light on Prānāyāma.


84. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  Iyengar offers respect and admiration to those who are credited for the discovery of Prānāyāma, namely Patañjali and the ancient Yogis of India.  He explains how he can write about the subject, but words are limiting.  Practice and experience done with caution, sustained effort, and patience are the only way to gain by this limb of yoga.


85.  Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patanjali:  Avidyā, (ignorance) is what Iyengar deems the "mother of all afflictions." This may be why he encourages the study of Yoga with the guidance of a Guru.  Gu=Light  Ru=Ignorance.  A Guru is simply someone who has mastered the art and science of yoga and can shed light on the dark areas where there is a need or want for knowledge and understanding. Pranayama is said to be "exalted knowledge" according to the Yogachudamani Upanisad


86. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  Patanjali prescribes ways to train the mind.  There are five basic qualities of mind 1) Mūda (dull) 2) Kṣipta (lazy) 3) Vikṣipta (oscillating) 4) Ekāgra (steady) and finally 5) niruddha (still).  Nancy Mau explained in class one day, what I will attempt to impart here: that Iyengar describes two banks between a river, one bank being the yamas and the other the niyamas by adhering to the boundaries of the banks we will flow in the right direction.  The two banks align us, irrespective of birth, time, place or sex. The banks keep us going in the right direction where friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference (as needed) naturally spring forth along the way. The mind steadies itself and eventually finds stillness.


87. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali:  The four chapters or padas of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1) Samādhi Pāda (Sub Consciousness) 2) Sādhanā Pāda (Study) 3) Vibhūti Pāda (Power) and 4) Kaivalya Pāda (Freedom) are according to Iyengar ordered for their interdependent cultivation. "The theory of the first chapter and the practice of the second and third chapters, when converted into science, art, and philosophy, become yoga sastra (teaching), yoga kala (unit/time), and yoga darsana (for sense awareness)." -BKS Iyengar Aṣṭadala Yogamālā- Vol. 1.


88. Iyengar follows the yoga guided by the 196 Sutras of Patañjali: As a Master Teacher, Iyengar codified the Sutras of Patañjali according themes for quick study for his students in his Aṣṭadala Yogamālā- Vol. 1.  


89. The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action. "It must not be just your mind or even your body that is doing the āsana. You must be in it.  You must do the āsana with your soul. How can you do an āsana with your soul?  We can only do it with the organ of the body closest to the soul - the heart." - BKS Iyengar in Light on Life


90. The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action. Iyengar explains that he teaches a "spiritual practice in action."  He uses the body as the vehicle to discipline the mind toward consciousness of the soul. 


91.  The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action." You must feel your intelligence, your awareness, and your consciousness in every inch of your body." - BKS Iyengar in Light on Life


92.  The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action.

"Love must be incarnated in the smallest pore of the skin, smallest cell of the body, to make them intelligent, so they can collaborate with all the other ones, in the big republic of the body." --  BKS Iyengar in Sparks of Divinity


93.  The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action.

"Sadhana should be pursued even though pain and death are at our throat." Sadhana means self-effort, spiritual discipline. 


94. The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action.

"The eyes must go to the region that does not work, not the one that does." - BKS Iyengar in Sparks of Divinity


95.  The Iyengar Method believes three things must be united in yoga:  Love, Knowledge, and Action.

"You are in bondage.  So while you are sweating and aching, let your heart be light and let it fill your body with gladness.  You are not only becoming free, but you are also being free.  What is not to be glad about?  The pain is temporary.  The freedom is permanent."- BKS Iyengar in Light on Life

96.  The Iyengar Method sheds light on us: "Before peace between nations, we must find peace within the small nation which is our own being." - BKS Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity, The teachings of BKS Iyengar, Compiled by Noelle Perez-Christiaens.


97.  The Iyengar Method sheds light on us: "The seed is the cause for the tree to grow, but the surprising thing is that in the seed there is nothing visible for one to know how the tree grows and with what content. From this apparent 'nothingness' of the seed the tree shoots up. In the same way, the seed of our life force, at the core is the Self."  BKS Iyengar, Aṣṭadala Yogamālā- Vol. 7.  


98. The Iyengar Method sheds light on us: "Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured."


99. The Iyengar Method sheds light on us: “Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”


100. The Iyengar Method sheds light on us: “Do not aim low. You will miss the mark. Aim high and you will be on the threshold of bliss.”


Happy Birthday, Mr. Iyengar. With love and gratitude, Rhonda.


Namaste.

Here is a recent video posted on the 10-day Centennial Celebration:

 

Guru Pournima

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The first full moon after the summer solstice is a time in India known as Guru Pournima or Purinima. This year it falls on July 27, 2018. It commemorates the birth of Veda Vyasa who authored the epic Mahabharata, Vedasa and Puranas. It is also a time to honor your Guru. Guru is a Sanskrit word that includes two root words Gu or darkness and Ru removes. A Guru being someone who removes our darkness or ignorance. Click on Times of India to view a video that tells us more about this holiday and suggestions on how best to celebrate it.  In the Iyengar tradition, we chant the Guru Mantra with the following slokas:

 

Guru Brahmaa Guru Vishnu

(Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu)


Guru Devo Maheshwarah

(Guru is Maheshwara [Shiva])


Guru Saakshaata Parabrahma

(Guru is Supreme Brahman Itself)


Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah

(Guru is Supreme Brahman Itself)


Prostration to that Guru

IYNAUS FIRST LIVE-STREAMED CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSE.

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Victoria Austin lead the first IYNAUS Live-Streamed Continuing Education course on June 30, 2018 with 186 participants representing countries all over the world. An Intermediate Senior I CIYT and an international Buddhist Priest of the Soto School, Shosan Victoria Austin began the practice of both yoga and Zen in 1971. She has studied extensively in Pune with Guruji BKS Iyengar, and the Iyengar Family. She continues to study in San Francisco with Manouso Manos.

The course entitled: Ethics for Iyengar Yoga Teachers challenged us as Patti Martin described, "[...] to embrace issues, obstacles, and difference as the means to develop skill in instruction, observation and correction, and interaction. Starting from a strong foundation, we can integrate our individual teaching practice with the needs and responses of those around us, opening and deepening the experience of interpersonal, institutional and cultural peace."

Utilizing the IYNAUS Ethical Guidelines (the basis of which is the universal and personal moral disciplines of the Yamas and Niyamas as taught by BKS Iyengar), we explored areas of citta-bhavana or moral development. Victoria sited the recent Yoga Samachar article, The Yamas and Niyamas, Training Principles, Not Commandments, by Stephanie Quirk and encouraged everyone to read it. 

Victoria presented several ways for us to gain a broader view of an ethical issue so as to better align our internal sense of what is right with our external expression to assure the most positive impact on our students and peers. A lot of content was covered and for this writer, it will require much review, contemplation, and of course practice. However, it is easy to see how the "new tools" can be added to our toolbox to help us move beyond our habitual, imprinted (samskara) and inherited ethical styles to create a more positive expression and outcome.

As a new medium for servicing IYNAUS Continuing Education, CrowdCast enabled interactivity such that students could ask questions via a sidebar chat area. While there was a glitch or two for some folks with a few frozen screens and audio issues, the live-streaming vehicle seemed to accommodate the group well. If you attended, please comment below, so students can learn from your experience. If you were unable to attend, look for the next course or email IYNAUS Continuing Education to find out how you can attend an upcoming course.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY

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International Yoga Day is a concept BKS Iyengar suggested in a talk in Bangalore, India sometime between 2011-2012. The United Nations proclaimed it a special day in 2014 on December 14th, BKS Iyengar’s birthday. On that day, Geeta Iyengar acknowledged the day of recognition during her first Birthday Intensive in Pune, adding that for practitioners, every day is International Yoga Day. IYNAUS and IYASE members have received a sequence in their email  to practice in celebration of this day.

Yoga means union. BKS Iyengar has unified students all over the world. As we draw closer to his centenary year, consider how many lives he has touched. We have all experienced some kind of transformation as individuals and as a group. He has taught us the power of grace and compassion. We have experienced that the Yamas and Niyamas are not meant to keep us bound, but to serve as a framework for freedom. We have learned that every moment on the mat and off requires some level of tapas svadhyaya Isvarapranidhanani kriya yogah, discipline, self-study, and faith.

We are not afraid of opposition. We have a visceral understanding that opposition is required to find equanimity and balance. We are learning again and again how abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah, Practice and detachment are the means to stilling the fluctuations of the consciousness, which Patañjali summarized as the meaning of yoga through his Sutra 1.2 Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah: Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the consciousness.

As we practice the sequence together today, may we be mindful of our journey so far and our part in the journey of others. Let us honor our choice to follow this path from innumerable life paths that are just as valid, because we have witnessed the possibilities Yoga has to change the world through the efforts of one man: BKS Iyengar.

Namaste.

 

To reinvigorate your practice read or re-read Taking the Next Step by Patricia Walden and Jarvis Chen

 

FROM THE PERIPHERY

                                                                                                                                                              By Rhonda Geraci

                                                                                                                                                            By Rhonda Geraci

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Over the course of the five-day event, Abhijata Sridhar, the granddaughter of BKS Iyengar led the convention with humility, humor, and fearless authenticity, demonstrating under no uncertain terms that the next generation of Iyengar Yoga is in safe hands. 

The Convention theme “From the Periphery to the Core and From the Core to the Periphery” was present throughout her teachings. The Sadhana IYNAUS 2016 convention magazine offers a nice piece on the theme by Nashville’s Gary Jaegar, an Intermediate Junior III Iyengar Yoga Instructor and Philosophy Professor at Vanderbilt University. Mr. Iyengar delineates the path inward and back again with the eight limbs or Astanga Yoga of Patanjali we follow:

“Yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama together belong to the path of evolution as they connect the Self to the Periphery (nature). Dharana, dhyana and Samadhi belong to the path of involution. Here the intelligence makes a return journey and moves from the skin towards the Self. “  [Iyengar, B. K. (2000). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā: Collected works (Vol. 1). New Delhi: Allied. Pg. 306]

Abhijata instructed by, as her Grandfather might say, using the ‘needle of consciousness’ to ‘fasten the body to the Soul.’ She explained that her Grandfather said that asana is a prop to penetrate to the Self. Her article in the convention magazine tells the stories of how the other props in Mr. Iyengar’s toolbox came about to serve us. 

Her aunt, Dr. Geeta Iyengar, spoke to us from Pune, India in the beginning, middle, and end of the conference to encourage us each step of the way and left us with a seed of inspiration to plant at home. Her interview with Joan White in the convention magazine shares her history of learning yoga from her father.

BKS Iyengar, who many call Guruji stayed ever present in Abhijata’s daily stories and teaching. When she shared a few of her asana lessons with her Grandfather, she had us enact the scene (which we attempted with humor) so we could feel the depth of his teaching. 

Senior Instructors were scattered throughout the Global Hall at the Boca Raton Resort & Spa where 1169 students held space for one another to learn. The Senior Teachers shared their stories on the stage and in the convention magazine, and like Abhijata, opened our hearts to their personal journeys. 

As Mr. Iyengar has said, “Caught in the web of words, it is rather difficult to define ‘yoga’ so as to satisfy everyone,” [ Iyengar, B. K. (2000). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā: Collected works (Vol. 1). New Delhi: Allied. Pg. 100]. However, Abhijata did an amazing job explaining to the vast number of levels with respectful authority her specific lessons. Everyone seemed to honor her presence in kind by coming into the Hall with a beginner’s mind. 

2.28 – yoganganusthanat asuddhiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakyateh,
“This means that by adherence to the practice of yoga impurities of body and consciousness are destroyed and the pure light of knowledge and wisdom is kindled, [
Iyengar, B. K. (2000). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā: Collected works (Vol. 1). New Delhi: Allied. Pg. 102].

We listened to her well thought out discoveries of what she felt her Grandfather meant by his idea that “Habit is a Disease.”  We learned by her personal examples about boga yoga (ego yoga) and the limitation that comes by using check lists in our poses. More importantly, we learned what our own process needs to be when trying to understand or interpret Mr. Iyengar's words. 

“Education is that which teaches us first to know thoroughly the parts so that one moves on to know the whole. The art of learning begins compartmentally, working clearly, in order to experience the whole, one day. Education is complete when it makes one realize one’s ignorance and light the lamp of inquiry for progress. Education brings about the realization of what one does not know and how much has been left out of the known.”  - BKS Iyengar

We could ‘collect’ the intelligence Abhijata offered because her precision in timing, sequence, repetition, and challenge assured it. She broke down lessons into parts we could remember. Concepts like hinge of the ankle, depth of the groin, the importance of finding equanimity and totality in our movements: shin to calf and calf to shin, tailbone to pubic bone, and upper thoracic (~T7/T8) to sternum. We studied the four corners of the feet and knee. We centralized the head of the humorous and femur. We circularized the upper thigh and weighted our ankles, and much, much more. Abhijata pricked our intelligence to penetrate our mind and body deeper and deeper with each class.

“We use our intelligence to see external things, but we do not know how to use the intelligence to penetrate internally. This internal movement of the intelligence begins through the practice of yoga and it travels from the body to the mind, mind to intelligence, intelligence to consciousness and consciousness to the self, so that you are drawn towards the core of Being- the Self. [ Iyengar, B. K. (2002). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā. Vol 2. New Delhi: Allied Publ. Page 212]

When moving us from what at first seemed like an 'all-level' Prasarita Padottanasana into Utthita Parsvakonasana, she warned us not to try this with beginners because the deep bend required a potentially harmful rotation in the hips for that level. It echoed the many warnings her Grandfather expressed in his written works. 

“I am very wary about recommending exercises for physical conditions, because many people might say, “I will also teach that,” but what is important is how it is taught. If you don’t know how to do it, don’t teach it.[…] do not do it if you do not know. It is dangerous.”  [Iyengar, B. K., & Rivers-Moore, D. (2002). The tree of yoga: Yoga vṛkṣa. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Pg. 97-98]

The films and stories of Mr. Iyengar’s teachings helped many of us better understand how he taught and why he taught the way he did. His student’s trusted him implicitly because they experienced such amazing changes in their mind and body -- despite disconcerting processes in between like what Mary Obendorfer shared about having numbness in her arms after one of his lessons. 

“The light inside the pot cannot spread unless the pot is broken. Similarly, the guru breaks the cover that enshrouds the pupil's intelligence and makes it shine and spread. The moment ignorance (ajnana) is eradicated, awareness (prajnana) takes its place.” [Iyengar, B. K. (2002). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā. Vol 2 New Delhi: Allied Publ. Pg. 301 ]

It is abundantly clear to newer students of his work (like this writer) that Mr. Iyengar always put his students first -even if he injured himself in the process.

“You know that Mr Iyengar sometimes hits his pupils to help them in their postures, but perhaps you do not know what I get from my pupils! I also get the pupils’ imprints on my body.” [Iyengar, B. K., & Rivers-Moore, D. (2002). The tree of yoga: Yoga vṛkṣa. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Pg. 97-98]

In his explanation of the invocation below (chanted at the convention after the invocation to Patanjali), we learn that our first Guru is a teacher who helps us find the Guru within ourselves. Mr. Iyengar's body of work is now in the hands and feet and every part and particle of Geeta & Prashant (along with his other children), his granddaughter, and his students. And every day is a new day to review our interpretation of his lessons, so we can use them to help ourselves and others begin to know the Self from the inside out, and back again. 

Gurubrahma gururvisnu gururudevo mahesvaraha
Guru saksata para brahma tasmai sri gaurave namah
 [Iyengar, B. K. (2002). Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā. New Delhi: Allied Publ. Pg. 301 ]

The closing ceremony of the event offered beautiful demonstrations with the likes of U.S. Iyengar leaders like Patricia Walden, talented voices like Jarvis Chin and Leslie Dillingham Freyberg, and the inspiring Lighting The Way award given to Lois Steinberg, one of the bright light workers among us. We left the halls ringing with a message from Patanjali: 

Sutra 1.33 maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam, “Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.”

We ended grateful for Abhijata and the Iyengar Family, along with the many volunteers who helped make the event happen. We filled the place with an energy that is sure to affect guests of the resort for years to come, and a vibration of compassion from our closing Sutra that we can only hope will penetrate into the earth and reverberate outward across the land.

SPRING RETREAT WITH KQUVIEN DEWEESE

                                                                                                                                                                      By Rhonda Geraci

RETREAT has military connotations as in a withdrawal of troops from the battlefield. It could be said that each of us has an ongoing internal and external battle that we wage at various levels of intensity depending who we are, what we do, where we live, and what we believe. A Yoga RETREAT is a retreat from the battlefield of life to a more secluded spot where we can gain a new perspective and are better able to bring about a dedicated focus inward - a focus that reunites us with the wholeness of our being. It pulls our energy back in from all the places we've allowed it to scatter. 

Kquvien DeWeese's SPRING RETREAT came at the tail end of tax time with presidential debates blaring blame and throwing the energy of the nation all over the place like the solar flares of the sun. Yoga practitioners new and old chose to retreat from it all. We weaved our way up to Dahlonega Resort and Spa.  There we reunited our energies and bonded with each other in true Yogic form. Kquvien teaches The Iyengar Method of Yoga, which was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. The method could be described as a systematic retreat. It is a slow involution from the gross to the subtle. It brings our awareness from the external to the internal. Kquvien began her lessons with simple poses that focused on our arms and legs; and then, she added props like chairs, blocks, and straps to support a deeper understanding of our body and its tendencies.

Once she shifted our focus to retreat inward, we were more receptive to the guidance of a few of the 196 Yoga Sutras of the sage Patanjali. Patanjali describes yoga as "Citta Vrtti Nirodha," Iyengar translates this in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as "Yoga is the cessation of the movements in the consciousness." We discussed several other translations of this sutra (1.2) along with a more recent translation by Rohit Mehta's from his book Yoga, The Art of Integration. Mehta explains Citta Vrtti (read monkey mind) as a comparing or contrasting reaction to any stimulus. The reaction perpetuates itself into a chain of reactions.

We might react to a cup of coffee with a comparison of the warm milk we got as a child that made us feel loved then contrast that reaction with a reaction of pain brought about from an imprint of when our father spilt hot coffee and burnt us. The cycle can go and on and on and follows the same groove as every other set of chain reactions. We can trap ourselves into this endless pattern our entire lives. Or we can learn to see each experience as new  -- void of any comparison or contrast. Interestingly, it was about here in our discussion that Kquvien brought up Albert Camus' Myth of Sisyphus (I encourage you to click and read it, along with this Elephant Journal article) and consider the last line that imagines Sisyphus happy. 

The Yoga of Patanjali's Sutras teaches us how to retreat from this chain reaction of thoughts. In retreat, we gain strength of awareness of a part of us that is separate from the meat suit where we live. Kquvien discussed Sutras 2:26-2:27 where Patanjali explains that there are seven stages to this awareness. Iyengar Yoga guides us through them systematically from the external body and senses to more internal areas of breath and prana (energy) to mind/intelligence and consciousness and finally to the innermost part of us that is none of that - what some call the soul. As we grow strength in the awareness of this innermost part of us, we learn to stay there. And staying there, with uninterrupted awareness,  Nirodha Parinama (a transformation that reduces the power of our reactions) results in growing moments where we experience the "Incomparable joy" that "comes from self-containment" [Mehta: Sutra 2:42],  and a steady (Sthira) stream of happiness (Sukham).

Kquvien will have another SPRING RETREAT. Until then, consider that your thoughts are merely a chain of reactions. That what's behind your eyes are your own Samskaras or imprints and you are constantly comparing and contrasting them, ad nauseam, against any new information or experience. Therefore, perhaps you don't need to take your chain of reactions so seriously. If you're not an Iyengar practitioner, I encourage you to find an Iyengar Studio near you. There you can begin to learn how to retreat from the chain of reactions, so you can see all your experiences with fresh eyes. And who knows where that could take you.

 

To learn more about Kquvien DeWeese visit her website at http://kquvienyoga.com/