This week, we, the Iyengar Association members of the US, have had the blessed opportunity to learn from Abhijata Iyengar, the granddaughter of BKS Iyengar, for an entire week!
She is a lovely woman with a warm presence and such a healing guide during this time. She is so at ease with us on Zoom and even we get to see her daughter come in and out of the room. I feel like she is talking directly to me. Now, is the time for being kind to ourselves, supporting ourselves and cultivating the skill of discernment. I think this is just such a blessing for a community of folks that are really good followers of instructions and maybe not great listeners of our own inner wisdom.
For those of you that have been reticent to take online classes, I’m here to tell you, there is a GREAT benefit.
She stopped in the middle of class to say, with great emotion, that she thought it was absolutely “BRILLIANT” that during all of what we are going through that we are choosing to practice yoga.
Her teaching is philosophical, inspiring, practical, healing and gives me great hope. I have had some big doubts over the past few years and her emphasis on reflection, perception awareness, kindness, and unity is a breath of fresh air.
I know most people consider this a physical practice to stay healthy y nada mas and while that is a benefit, there is so so much more. Sometimes, I feel I’m talking to a wall and that’s why I started this blog and videos. I’m glad to hear so many you are enjoying this deeper look at our practice.
I mean why do we practice? This is what my whole podcast is about. Is it just about pain relief, health and avoiding the aging process? Many students of yoga will stay on the physical body benefits and that’s not bad. Good health is very important and not having pain can be all consuming. Some people’s pain bops around the body for years others get relief and then they start living more healthfully making better choices of what they ingest into their bodies, ears, eyes or mind and before you know it they are curious about chanting, philosophy et al - this was me. That yoga, it sneaks up on you.
She did say something about how our minds are brooding especially now, or it has this tendency to brood on our own pain, like a broken record (at least mine does!). And she said that when you lift the shoulder blades, in dog pose or prasarita padottoansana you take away the brooding mind. So, try that in your dog pose!
I’m going to start with one of the many stories Abhi told us. You’ll have to imagine her lilting voice, the big smile that arises when she recalls her tata, grandfather and thank you to Jennie Wiliford for writing about this everyday to help me share this with all of you. (her blog is at The Yoga Place. www.yogalacrosse.com. Subscribe to her blog and if you didn’t catch her interview on the podcast go check it out Little Big Moments or go to www.jenkagan.net)
“In practice with Guruji (BKS Iyengar) one day she was disturbed by her daughter making too much noise and was yelling for her to be quiet. Guruji asked if that was the way she treated her body parts that weren’t contributing to the supposed quiet experience of her Janu Sirsasana (bent leg seated forward bend). He continued…(and this is definitely paraphrased)”
Force contributes nothing. It kills curiosity and vanquishes love. Curiosity is the precursor for sensitivity. If we can use props and find ways to explore asana in that manner, without using force, freedom will come in on its own. Freedom is love and freedom makes your mind and intelligence fluid…that is sensitivity. Sensitivity cannot be taught nor can it be learned. It is not an attribute to buy or borrow. It is an expression of freedom, it just flows. BKS Iyengar
And today’s class was all about this flow of energy, what is this energy but the energy that unites us all. We humans, we divide and categorize but we are all one energy. And when we can find that flow in our own bodies, we join the flow around us. And yes, finding this flow requires a curiosity, an exploration and a deep acceptance of yourself and the situation around you. When you can accept and surrender you are in the flow of it all, so to speak.
Her practice recommendations is #1 take support. We need support right now. Rest. If you are recovering child's pose with support under the entire trunk.
“Props can bring a leap to your Sadhana (practice) and yogic journey. It is ok to be dependent. You did not come on earth independently. You did not get your life independently. At every moment you are dependent. To be independent you have to live in a vacuum in space. The props are there for you. They do not judge. A prop is a wonderful manifestation of a friend. A friend is there at all times for you and the props are there at all times for you”
Abhijata Iyengar, May 11 2020