I took a trip to The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India in December for a meeting and a workshop with Geeta Iyengar, the daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji). It was good to see Geetaji, glowing smile and full of energy. Her workshop was mind shifting! I am so grateful I could attend. She and Prashant Iyengar, the son of Guruji, are strong leaders. They are giving careful thought about how to carry Iyengar Yoga forward into the future. Geetaji said:
“ We must preserve what Guruji has given us. Guruji always had in the back of this mind to help people.”
She went on to say that we know that Guruji wanted to help everyone: overweight, infirm, aged, even bedridden people who could not walk. To be able to do this there is so much involved: yoga appropriate to all these groups, props needed, plus each individual is different so must be treated differently. This requires depth of learning for teachers and students alike.
Guruji had compassion for the downtrodden because of his own experience with serious illnesses. During the conference his granddaughter Abijata gave a talk on the use of props. One of the first times Guruji used a prop was on the head principal of the university in Pune. This man could no longer walk so Guruji had him do standing poses while lying on the floor and propped his legs apart with a bar.
The props that Guruji used were an extension of his desire to help and support others. Props became an important part of Iyengar Yoga. Using a prop for support can remove fear or give courage. Props can correct an asana and give access to body parts not yet discovered by the practitioner. Props can help with balance and prevent overdoing and underdoing. Most importantly, props can let a beginner go further or support someone struggling with an illness or handicap .
As Geetaji said, students of B.K.S. Iyengar must preserve what he has given us. Our mission should be to be well-informed practioners who are compassionate and always striving to help others.