The Future of Iyengar Yoga

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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.

bannerGuruji 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.

geetajiThe 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.

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Staying Young

When my hair first turned white in the front, I was glad. It lightened up my color and made it clear to all that I am older. I was hoping it would give me some street cred and a bit of status: “older and wiser.”

There have been times when my feelings have wavered on this however. For example, the time that a woman who I had met only once before came to visit me and  knocked on my front door. My husband happened to answer the door and she asked him “Is your mother at home?” My husband later, rather too gleefully, told me this story. My husband looks forever youthful though he is a year older than me. Gosh I felt old and hunched.

But here is one of the best secrets of Iyengar yoga. It is a fountain of youth of sorts. It allows us to age with dignity. The work of the poses brings good posture,  strength and flexibility. The inversions and backbends bring much needed circulation and flushing as well as opening the mind to new horizons!

Stay young with yoga. I have heard that you are as young as your spine is flexible. Here is the quote of the day:

“The body soon decays like unbaked earthern pots thrown in water. Strengthen and purify the body by baking it in the fire of yoga.”   G. Heranda