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VOL. 19 NO. 1

THE ART, SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY OF IYENGAR YOGA PLUS: YOGANUSASANAM LIGHTING THE WAY BELLUR TRUST

Spring / Summer 2015


CONTENTS

YOGA SAMACHAR’S MISSION

Letter From the President – Michael Lucey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Yogi-Artists Express Themselves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Yoga Samachar, the magazine of the Iyengar Yoga community in the United States and beyond, is published twice a year by the Communications Committee of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS). The word samachar means “news” in Sanskrit. Along with the website, www.iynaus.org, Yoga Samachar is designed to provide interesting and useful information to IYNAUS members to:

Yoga and Science – Siegfried Bleher and Jarvis Chen . . . . 20

Promote the dissemination of the art, science, and philosophy of yoga as taught by B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, and Prashant Iyengar

Communicate information regarding the standards and training of certified teachers

Atha Yoganusasanam: – Jennie Williford . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Report on studies regarding the practice of Iyengar Yoga

Reflections on Our Belated First Trip – David Carpenter . . . 31

Provide information on products that IYNAUS imports from India

Yoganusasanam -- Melissa Lorraine Hagen . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Review and present recent articles and books written by the Iyengars

Lighting the Way: Gloria Goldberg – Richard Jonas . . . . . . . 35

Lifelong Practice: Ben and Tommijean Thomas – Josephine Lazarus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Report on recent events regarding Iyengar Yoga in Pune and worldwide

Be a platform for the expression of experiences and thoughts from members, both students and teachers, about how the practice of yoga affects their lives

Present ideas to stimulate every aspect of the reader’s practice

News From the Regions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Art, Science, and Philosophy in our Practice – Laurie Blakeney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 The Lyrical Language of B.K.S. Iyengar – Laurel Rayburn. . . . 9

Body Sensations – Gin McCollum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Preparing for Prashant – Anne-Marie Schultz . . . . . . . . . . 25 Is Yoga a Religion? – John Schumacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Geeta’s Intensive: Three Perspectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

In Memory of Judi Ann Rice – Alex Cleveland . . . . . . . . . . . 34

IYNAUS Store News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Report From Bellur – Michael Lucey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Treasurer’s Report – David Carpenter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Classifieds/Corrections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 2014 Iyengar Yoga Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Poem for Our Skeletons – Rosie King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

IYNAUS Board Member Contact List Spring/Summer 2015 Lynda Alfred lynda@montrose.net

Kathy Simon kathyraesimon@gmail.com

Cynthia Bates cynthiabates88@gmail.com

Eric Small ericsmall@yogams.com

Leslie Bradley certification@iynaus.org

Nancy Watson nancyatiyanus@aol.com

David Carpenter dcarpenter@sidley.com

Denise Weeks denise.iynaus@gmail.com

Alex Cleveland clevelandalex@yahoo.com

Stephen Weiss stphweiss@gmail.com

Gloria Goldberg yogagold2@gmail.com

Sharon Cowdery (general manager) generalmanager@iynaus.org

Michael Lucey 1michael.lucey@gmail.com

Contact IYNAUS:

Tori Milner torimilner@yahoo.com Anne-Marie Schultz Anne_Marie_Schultz@baylor.edu

P.O. Box 538 Seattle WA 98111 206.623.3562 www.iynaus.org

YOGA SAMACHAR IS PRODUCED BY THE IYNAUS PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE Committee Chair: Tori Milner Editor: Michelle D. Williams Copy Editor: Denise Weeks Design: Don Gura Advertising: Rachel Frazee Members can submit an article or a practice sequence for consideration for inclusion in future issues. Articles should be well-written and submitted electronically. The Yoga Samachar staff reserves the right to edit accepted submissions to conform to the rules of spelling and grammar, as well as to the Yoga Samachar house style guidelines. Submissions must include the author’s full name and biographical information related to Iyengar Yoga, along with email contact and phone number. Submission deadline for the Spring/Summer issue is March 1. Submission deadline for the Fall/Winter issue is Aug. 1. Please send queries to yogasamachar@iynaus.org one month prior to these deadlines.

Advertising Yoga Samachar is now accepting paid advertising. Full-page, half-page and quarter-page ads are available for placement throughout the magazine, and a classified advertising section is available for smaller ads. All advertising is subject to IYNAUS board approval. Find the ad rates at www.iynaus. org/yoga-samachar. For more information, including artwork specifications and deadlines, please contact Rachel Frazee at rachel@yogalacrosse.com or 608.269.1441.

Cover: Dory Kanter, Misty Mountains, watercolor on paper. © 2015 Dory Kanter, www.dorykanter.com

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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IYNAUS Officers and Standing Committees President: Michael Lucey Vice President: Lynda Alfred Secretary: Denise Weeks Treasurer: David Carpenter Archives

Eric Small, Chair Kim Kolibri, Director of Archives Lindsey Clennell, Elaine Hall, Linda Nishio, Deborah Wallach

Certification Committee Leslie Bradley, Chair

Dean Lerner, James Murphy, Nancy Stechert, Lois Steinberg

Elections Committee

Letter

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Fellow IYNAUS Members, Tatah krtarthanam parinamakrama samaptih gunanam (Sutra IV.32) Before the first class she taught at the Yoganusasanam intensive in December, Geetaji reminded us of a word from the Yoga Sutras that Guruji was fond of: krtarthan. Guruji uses this word in his commentary on Sutra II.39 dealing with aparigraha, which, he tells us, “means not only nonpossession and nonacceptance of gifts but also freedom from rigidity of thought.” As Guruji notes in his discussion of that sutra: “When the sadhaka is free of worldly aspirations, he is a krtarthan (a happy and satisfied person).”

Michael Lucey, Chair

Lynda Alfred, Alex Cleveland, Anne-Marie Schultz

Ethics Committee

Michael Lucey, Chair Chris Beach, Randy Just, Lisa Jo Landsberg, Manju Vachher, Jito Yumibe

Events Committee

Nancy Watson, Chair Carole Fridolph, Gloria Goldberg, Colleen Gallagher, Suzie Muchnick, Phyllis Rollins

Finance Committee

David Carpenter, Chair Lynda Alfred, Gloria Goldberg, Stephen Weiss

Governance Committee Nancy Watson, Chair

David Carpenter, David Larsen

Membership Committee

Lynda Alfred & Alex Cleveland, Co-Chairs IYACSR – vacant IMIYA – Lynda Alfred IYAGNY – Ed McKeaney IYAMN – Elizabeth Cowan IYAMW – Becky Meline IYANC – Risa Blumlien IYANE – Kathleen Swanson IYANW – Margrit von Braun IYASC-LA – Wendy Alter IYASCUS – Jerrie Crowley IYASE – Diana Martinez IYASW – Carrie Abts

Publications Committee Tori Milner, Chair

Don Gura, Rachel Frazee, Denise Weeks, Michelle D. Williams

Public Relations and Marketing Committee Cynthia Bates, Chair

Ani Boursalian, Rachel Formaro, Shaaron Honeycutt, Louisa Spier, Holly Walck, Nagisa Wanabe

Regional Support Committee

Alex Cleveland & Anne-Marie Schultz, Co-Chairs IMIYA – Lynda Alfred IYAGNY – Ed McKeaney IYAMN – Katy Olson IYAMW – Jennie Williford IYANC – Heather Haxo Phillips IYANE – Jarvis Chen IYANW – Janet Langley IYASC-LA – Jennifer Diener IYASCUS – Pauline Schloesser IYASE – Alex Cleveland IYASW – Lisa Henrich

Scholarship and Awards Committee Denise Weeks, Chair

Leslie Freyberg, Richard Jonas, Lisa Jo Landsberg, Pat Musburger, Nina Pileggi, John Schumacher

Service Mark & Certification Mark Committee Gloria Goldberg, Attorney in Fact for Geeta S. Iyengar and Prashant S. Iyengar

Systems & Technology Committee Stephen Weiss, Chair

Ed Horneij, William McKee, David Weiner

Yoga Research Committee

Sutra IV.32 combines that word—krtarthan—with parinama (transformation) and krama (sequence). Commenting on IV.32, Guruji wrote: “Having transformed the yogi’s consciousness by the radiation of the rays of the soul, the orderly mutations and rhythmic sequences of the qualities of nature, sattva, rajas, and tamas come to an end… The essence of intelligence and the essence of consciousness both now retire to rest in the abode of the soul. The master, the seer or the soul, is independent.” This contentment, this satisfaction, this independence was Guruji’s at the end of his life, Geetaji reminded us; it was brought about by the successive sequential changes that were the fruit of years of devoted practice, a practice free from rigidity of thought and possessiveness. A krtarthan is a fulfilled soul, Geetaji told us, and this possibility of fulfillment is part of what Guruji offers to us through what he taught as well as through the example of his practice. Geetaji’s inspired teaching last December provided many of those present with a chance to mourn for Guruji but also to celebrate the gift of his life, his practice, and his teaching. Guruji himself insisted that younger practitioners be invited to this intensive. He insisted, Geetaji told us, that there is “a new generation whom we have to care about.” As I reflect on my time in Pune this past December and on what we can be doing as a community to care for a new generation, I find myself meditating on the relationships that might exist between these various concepts from the Yoga Sutras. Aparigraha is a letting go, a nongrasping attitude, an openness of mind, a welcoming of what comes next, of who or what comes after. Parinama is the transformation that devoted, rigorous, and efficacious practice can bring. Krama is the idea of sequence and sequencing so important to Guruji’s method, an idea that encompasses continuing, progressive learning from action to action, from pose to pose, from syllabus to syllabus, from year to year, and from generation to generation. Finally, krtarthan is a fulfillment, satisfaction, or contentment that can be ours if we allow aparigraha, krama, and parinama to be actualized in and through our practice. This, then, is surely our mission—as individuals and as an organization—in the years ahead: Out of a welcoming spirit of generosity, kindness, friendliness, and compassion and out of a spirit of devotion to the rich and rigorous practice that B.K.S. Iyengar taught us, we must find ways to find fulfillment as we cultivate and pass on the knowledge and the practice that have been passed to us. I look forward to continuing to work with you in pursuit of that mission, and I thank all of you who have contributed so generously in so many ways over the years and right up to today—be it as a teacher, an assessor, a community member, or a volunteer, be it with a contribution to the Bellur fund (see the Bellur Report on page 40), to our archives, or to IYNAUS generally (see David Carpenter’s Treasurer’s Report on page 42).

Kathy Simon, Chair

Jerry Chiprin, Renee Royal, Kimberly Williams

IYNAUS Senior Council Kristin Chirhart, Manouso Manos, Patricia Walden, Joan White 2

Michael Lucey, President IYNAUS Board of Directors Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


News

FROM THE REGIONS

IYAGNY

Community Outreach Classes

around the world including Father Joe Pereira and Stephanie Quirk have taught the class.

The Iyengar Yoga Institutes of New York and Brooklyn hold nearly 100 classes every week, ranging from Level I to Level IV

What has never changed is the spirit in the class—similar to

and including Pranayama, Restorative, Women’s, Prenatal,

that among survivors of breast cancer in the Breast Health

Gentle, and Specific Needs classes. Introductory classes and

Class and in the Veterans’ Class. The HIV Class began in 1994 in

series for students new to the method are offered as well as

the old New York Institute on 24th Street and was taught by

teacher training, including ongoing programs for certified

James Murphy, IYAGNY director, and Brooke Myers. The class

teachers. There is also a full slate of weekend workshops taught

still meets at noon on Fridays. In the early days, some students

by faculty on special themes such as “Asana for Anxiety,” “Yoga

were incapacitated; some did no more than lie on the floor with

for Depression,” “Working With Bunions,” “Anatomy of the

their heels elevated on blocks to quiet the abdomen and relieve

Breathing Mechanism,” and “Finding Your Balance.” In addition,

diarrhea. Changes in the HIV Class mirror changes in the

special workshops bring visiting teachers to the region.

epidemic. Conditions of the eye like retinitis, which meant students could not do inversions, are much more rare; so are

Still another kind of class mirrors the community outreach

fever and diarrhea. A second HIV Class, at the Brooklyn Institute,

efforts of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York

meets at 3 p.m. on Mondays and is taught by Richard Jonas.

(IYAGNY) and the universal reach of Guruji’s method: an HIV Class, a Breast Health Class, and a Veterans’ Class.

One current student says, “I would not classify it as yoga and HIV, but yoga and life. Yoga has an effect on our posture, our life

These free classes remind us that Iyengar Yoga is a vital, life-

choices, and our ways of thinking. Yoga has become an

affirming way to work with chronic conditions and to nurture

instrument for a healthier body and a cleaner mind.” Another

hope and fortitude in the face of difficulties. They show how a

adds, “The benefits I have achieved in a very short period of

yoga institute is more than a yoga studio in the way it reaches

time are amazing. The first thing I noticed was a real change in

out to people in its community. Most of all, these classes

my posture. I feel my body has enlarged. For the first time, I

demonstrate that, along with the striving for absolute

have found out how to have a relationship with all of my body,

alignment and constant focus, the nature of the Iyengars’

inside and outside. Another benefit is the level of relaxation;

teaching is profound compassion for students of all levels and

yoga makes it so much easier to reach that state of mind where

conditions. This compassion comes from and demonstrates

everything is peaceful.”

their sure knowledge of how profoundly curative and transformative yoga, correctly performed, can be.

— Richard Jonas

The HIV Class

The Breast Health Class

The Iyengar Yoga Institute’s HIV Class began in the days before

For the women who attend it, the Breast Health Class is a

anti-retroviral medications were available. As the nature of the

lifeline. It is both a place for like-minded women to meet and

AIDS epidemic changed, so did the class. People grew healthier

network and a place where they can begin to take charge of

and stronger, and along with sequences devised by Guruji and

their lives and learn yoga in a supportive atmosphere.

the Iyengars to control HIV infection, students began to do the kind of “regular” yoga that makes everyone stronger, more

Taught by Bobby Clennell, author of Yoga for Breast Care: What

flexible, and balanced.

Every Woman Needs to Know, the class is targeted to the particular needs of these women; only breast cancer survivors

There’s always been a special feeling in the HIV Class—

may attend. And since most of the women are over 60, they

friendly and supportive—and a sense of belonging. Longtime

know they can be in a class without fear of not being able to

students welcome and encourage newcomers. Along with

keep up.

firmness of body and steadiness of intelligence, which B.K.S. Iyengar tells us are two of the defining qualities of asana,

Breast cancer surgery brings a particular set of limitations and

one feels here the benevolence of spirit he names as the

a particular set of aspirations not found among any other group

third quality.

of students. Now in its fourth year, the class draws a mixed group. Many of the women, especially the dedicated group of

Over the years, we have lost students and mourned as a

regulars who make up the bulk of the class, are long-term

community. Newcomers have arrived. Senior teachers from

survivors. These women have made tremendous strides in their

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offered to all veterans from any branch of service—regardless of injury or past yoga experience. The biggest concern plaguing veterans today is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—and Iyengar Yoga really shines in this arena. Our approach to yoga is a clear breath of fresh air to all who enter the class. The discipline of our practice appeals to a veteran’s already-honed skills of attentiveness and focus, and the pranayama taught in Iyengar Yoga helps students take this Supta Baddha Konasana: Begin on a lower support (i.e., a narrow-fold blanket) immediately following surgery for breast cancer.

honed skill and turn it inward so the mind can become quiet and peaceful. The feeling in the room during class is one of community and

practices. Improvement in mobility around the affected site, in

openness. “Once you figure out what it’s all about, it becomes

particular the arm and shoulder, is one of the first benefits they

so meaningful. It’s like family,” says Anu Bhagwati, a longtime

gain from the class.

yoga practitioner and teacher in New York.

A less obvious, but extremely valuable benefit is regaining

IYAGNY is proud to offer the Veterans’ Class to honor and pay

confidence in a body that a woman may feel has let her down.

tribute to a group that has given so much.

It takes a while, but with regular attendance in the class (and for some with home practice), trust in the body’s ability to heal

— Adam Vitolo

itself through yoga builds, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Richard Jonas, Bobby Clennell, and Adam Vitolo are faculty members at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York.

This is a close-knit group. Navigating the health system and attempting to pull together the components that make up a

IYAMN

medical support system are among the subjects the students

In October 2014, the Iyengar Yoga Association of Minnesota

exchange information about.

(IYAMN) hosted senior teachers Mary Obendorfer and Eddy Marks to conduct a three-day workshop in Saint Paul at the

As teachers, one of our greatest rewards is watching the progress

Saint Paul Yoga Center. In their asana classes, Mary and Eddy

of our students. In many respects, this group is no different from

conveyed key philosophical concepts of yoga and demonstrated

students in a regular class. As their immune systems become

the seamlessness of practice and philosophy. They also taught

stronger, we see their health and strength improving. And if they

two pranayama classes during the well-attended and much-

stick around, something else happens—something wonderful:

appreciated workshop.

They become fascinated by yoga and interested in practicing beyond the initial confines of breast cancer.

We continued our tradition of holding a winter yoga day to honor and celebrate Guruji’s life and work. This was also held

A breast cancer survivor does not want to think about breast

at the Saint Paul Yoga Center and was attended by about 35

cancer all the time. She wants to move on. Yes, this class takes

people. Local teacher Jeanne Barkey taught an asana class,

into consideration the specific needs and concerns of the group,

using it to introduce some of the basic philosophical ideas of

including the aftereffects of chemotherapy (long-term and

the yoga tradition. Members of our association were

lingering fatigue), the initial immobility caused by scar tissue

encouraged to bring guests new to yoga to introduce them to

(most of these women have undergone some sort of surgery, a

the tradition of Iyengar Yoga, and Jeanne taught a class that

mastectomy, lumpectomy or reconstruction surgery), and, in

was amenable to that group. This proved to be a great success,

some cases, lymphedema. But this class also recognizes the

and we intend to do this once a year as a way to build

need to address the entire person—the body, the breath, the

community and increase membership in our association. The

mind, and the innermost self.

evening concluded with refreshments, including a cake to honor Guruji’s birth. IYAMN also sponsored a workshop with

— Bobby Clennell

John Schumacher in early June in Saint Paul.

The Veterans’ Class

We welcomed new board member Luanne Laurents to the

The Veterans’ Class takes place at noon on Saturday afternoons

board to succeed outgoing member Michael Moore. We are

at the New York Institute and is taught by Adam Vitolo. The

thankful to Michael for his service to the board. Our board

class gives IYAGNY the opportunity to give back to the men and

continues with its mission of building the Iyengar Yoga

women who have risked their lives for our country. The class is

community in this region, especially reaching out beyond the

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Twin Cities. Our association has a membership that includes

Convergence brings together Iyengar Yoga teachers from across

rural Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In

New England for a weekend of workshops and community

addition to the Twin Cities community of teachers, our

gatherings. This year’s teachers featured Patricia Walden (MA),

membership includes Iyengar Yoga teachers across our region—

Linda DiCarlo (RI), Jarvis Chen (MA), and Rebecca Weisman (VT).

in Fergus Falls and Tofte in Minnesota, Iowa City and Decorah in Iowa, and La Crosse and Madison in Wisconsin, for example.

“The Convergence is like a mini-Iyengar Yoga convention,” said

There are thriving Iyengar Yoga communities scattered

Jarvis Chen. “It’s an opportunity for students to experience

throughout our region. Nancy Footner, for example, reports

some of the wonderful Iyengar Yoga teachers we have right

from Iowa City that the Friendship Yoga Studio (founded in

here in New England and to celebrate our shared passion for

1993) is currently offering 10 classes year round and hosts two

Iyengar Yoga.”

weekend retreats a year with invited senior Iyengar Yoga teachers. One long-term student, Jenn Bowen, recently passed

It’s a powerful opportunity for teachers to work together and

her Introductory Certification, encouraging news for the Iowa

share their knowledge and for students to place themselves

community. We hope to include more news from around our

and their home studios in the context of the broader New

region in future reports.

England Iyengar Yoga community.

IYANE

IYANW

The Iyengar Yoga Association of New England (IYANE) held its

The Iyengar Yoga Association of the Northwest (IYANW) is as

annual general membership meeting on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in

diverse as can be with studios in large cities and lone certified

Providence, Rhode Island. In an effort to build participation in

teachers in remote areas. No matter the size, we’re all busy

IYANE across the region, annual meetings in Cambridge,

making connections with each other and growing our

Massachusetts, will alternate with meetings in other New

communities. In Pistol River, Oregon, a coastal community of

England communities. The 2014 annual meeting was preceded

200, certified Iyengar Yoga teacher Vimla Maharaj conducts

by a membership drive workshop with senior teacher Linda

small classes for 10 eager practitioners. The students are

DiCarlo. We also welcomed new at-large board members Claire

dedicated to their classes during the nine months Vimla is in

Carroll and Kim Peralta, and acknowledged the reappointment

the area. They have also learned the value of home practice

of Patricia Walden and Mary Wixted to their second terms on

and making connections with other practitioners to maintain

the IYANE Board of Directors.

and flourish as a yoga community—one that grows strictly by word of mouth.

The Community Service Committee of IYANE has been funding the teaching of yoga to underserved populations since 2012.

Ashland, Oregon, is technically considered a rural area. With a

Domestic violence victims in Massachusetts, developmentally

population of around 21,000, Ashland is a mini-mecca for yoga

disabled adults in Maine, and low-income women in Boston

entrepreneurs of all styles, and the Iyengar Yoga community is

have benefitted from yoga provided by teachers funded by

steadily growing. This year Rose Yoga of Ashland (RYA) had its

IYANE. This year, we are pleased to subsidize yoga classes for

first annual member class and several students joined IYNAUS.

transgender people in Burlington, Vermont. Also, in response to

In addition to two guest weekend workshops scheduled in 2015,

a request from an Iyengar Yoga student teaching at the

RYA is holding bi-monthly home practice support groups at the

Framingham Women’s Prison in Massachusetts, IYANE donated

request of its growing community and may add an additional

six yoga books to the prison library, including Light on Yoga,

guest workshop in 2016.

Light on Life, Yoga The Iyengar Way, and The Women’s Book of Yoga and Health.

Farther north, in a somewhat larger community, teachers and students at Yoga Northwest celebrated Ingela Abbott’s 35th

In 2014, IYANE made two Pune Study Scholarships of $500 each

year of teaching Iyengar Yoga in Bellingham, Washington.

available to New England students attending Geetaji’s intensive

Ingela calculated that during those 35 years, “close to 10,000

in December. The 2014 scholarships were awarded to Natasha

people have learned to do the dog pose, stand up tall, and

Judson (Massachusetts) and Marly Schneider (Vermont). The

breathe deeply, enhancing our beautiful Northwest region with

2015 Pune Study Scholarship recipient is David Yearwood

the yogic spirit.” The May 9 celebration included a yoga

(Maine). All IYANE members are eligible to apply for the Pune

presentation, awards to students, and a trip down memory lane

Study Scholarship; more information is available at

with studio flyers, photos, and reminiscences going as far back

www.iyengarnewengland.com.

as studio archives and memory allowed.

Our association was also proud to be a co-sponsor of the 2nd

IYANW has its big cities, too. Shaw-Jiun Wang arrived on the

annual Iyengar Yoga Convergence, May 1–3, 2015, at the

Seattle yoga scene in October 2014 committed to serving the

Portland Yoga Studio in Maine. The brainchild of certified

community of greater Seattle. In addition to offering quality

Iyengar Yoga teacher David Yearwood, the annual Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga classes, the Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio reached

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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out to the local community, offering community classes and

In January, IYASE and the Iyengar Center of Nashville

benefits to organizations that are known to “inspire and

co-sponsored an inspiring workshop led by Edwin Bryant,

contribute to humanity.” The studio has held two benefits in

expert on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Bhagavad Gita. This

2015 for Yoga Behind Bars and for YouthCare, an organization

is IYASE’s second co-sponsored event, in which our regional

providing alternatives and a second chance to homeless youth.

organization teams up with a community studio.

Earlier this year, Pat Musburger of Tree House Iyengar Yoga (also

Within the IYASE organization itself, the board of directors is

in the Seattle area) provided a forum for conversation in one of

working to more evenly distribute the workload and “sattvacize”

her pranayama/asana workshops and was pleased to discover

our overall efforts. Removing work that’s duplicative, dividing

the wealth of knowledge offered by one of her students, an

up and sharing jobs, having shorter but more frequent

ayurvedic wellness counselor. Later in the year, her student

telephone meetings, and more carefully considering added

Gayathri gave a workshop on ayurveda at the studio. Pat says,

services to make sure they add value, are some of the tactics

“As instructors, we learn so much from our students, which is

we’re trying.

just one of the many reasons we appreciate our yoga communities.”

Our biggest step toward removing duplicative work is deciding to have all members join or renew through IYNAUS, effective with

This summer, one of IYANW’s long-established studios in

the 2016 member year. The parallel paths to membership—via the

Portland, Oregon, Gudmestad Yoga Studio, will host Anatomy

regional or national organization—are confusing to members and

Awareness in Asana with Julie Gudmestad. Julie will be teaching

create extra work for our volunteers. We will better serve both

this 5-day intensive integrating essential anatomy with the

IYNAUS and IYASE in making this change.

yoga poses. Classes consist of about half anatomy study and half asana practice to illustrate the anatomy.

Another way we’re evening out effort is through job-sharing. The IYASE president’s job is being shared by Chris O’Brien and

Please visit www.iyanw.org for the many workshop choices

Jann Boyer for 2016. Other examples include multiple-member

offered in the region.

teams for the IYASE newsletter and cross-training for frequent

IYASE

tasks such as updating the website and sending out group e-mails, so we can help each other when needed.

The Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southeast (IYASE) has seen many wonderful workshops and events in recent months.

To achieve more useful telephone meetings with a greater

Audubon Yoga Studio in New Orleans celebrated in a special

number of board members, we have two teams, each led by a

way when more than 75 students and friends joined studio

co-president. The Communications team handles the website,

teachers to celebrate and honor the life of B.K.S. Iyengar on

social media, the newsletter, e-bulletins, and continuing

Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. Studio director Becky Lloyd, along with

education; the Operations team focuses on membership,

several teachers, provided a variety of offerings, including a talk

budget and accounting, scholarships, and organizational

on the effects of different categories of poses, comments on the

records (minutes, contact lists, etc.).

obstacles B.K.S. Iyengar overcame in his life, and a demonstration of an impressive and inspirational flow of asanas.

Finally, we added two new services—both carefully considered for value versus cost. Natasha Freeman is our first Social Media

Beloved Iyengar Yoga teacher Judi Rice passed away on Dec. 12,

Chair. She monitors our Facebook page, keeping it lively and

2014. Judi’s life was honored in early January at a “Gratitude

fresh. Our Continuing Education Chair, Lisa Waas, recently

Feast” planned by Judi herself. Family, friends, yoga colleagues

created our first online sign-up for an IYASE-sponsored

and students—an estimated 300 people—joined in this upbeat

workshop, the Intro I/II teacher training event with Suzie

commemoration. Judi’s strength, courage, and detachment were

Muchnick, which was held in Naples, FL, May 29–31. The online

greatly admired, even as her days on this earth came to a close.

service is designed to ease the registration process for participants,

Her teaching of Iyengar Yoga will be remembered and passed

as well as reduce the logistical work for the organizers.

on for years to come in the Louisville, Kentucky, area, in our IYASE community, and beyond.

IYASW The Iyengar Yoga Association of the Southwest (IYASW) has had

Our region’s teachers responded with enthusiasm to IYNAUS’

a busy 2015 so far! We started out the year in January with an

call for membership workshops, offering 10 events in six states

Iyengar Yoga teacher meet-and-greet workshop. Throughout

in late 2014 and early 2015. These workshops are an effective

the day, teachers from around Arizona took turns teaching to a

way to provide a service for and invite the support of our

room full of new and veteran students. Each teacher focused on

nonteaching practitioners. Averaging almost 10 participants per

a particular class of poses: standing, inversions, backbends, etc.

workshop, this activity accounts for almost half of our general

This format allowed new students to glimpse the full spectrum

(noncertified teachers) membership.

of poses that we practice in Iyengar Yoga, and all enjoyed the

6

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


full day of practice that touched on each category of poses.

innumerable problems of our muscles, bones, and joints can be relieved or improved with the correct application and

We organized this event to introduce students to teachers

practice of yoga. That’s wonderful. But that is just the

within our region whom they had never met or taken a class

beginning… Because Mr. Iyengar learned, and we have the

with before, and to bring awareness of Iyengar Yoga to the

opportunity to learn, again, and expand on it, through the

community at large. Students and teachers came to the Iyengar

practice of yoga that the subject is so much deeper than the

Yoga Center of Scottsdale at Scottsdale Community College

muscles and the bones. He would say it is the study of the

from all over, and attendees were treated to a light lunch and a

cellular basis of our existence.”

t-shirt. The biggest treat of the whole event was the joy of coming together as a community. The workshop was so

Our senior teachers continue to bring our community

successful that we intend to make it an annual event.

together. Manouso Manos and Gloria Goldberg come to our Institute to teach their dedicated students and to help them

We’ve also had the pleasure of visits from several senior

deepen their practices.

teachers. Dean Lerner and Rita Lewis-Manos held their annual workshops at The B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Center of Tucson. Both

On Feb. 21, Lisa Walford’s students, colleagues, and friends

Rita and Dean have been coming to Tucson for many years, and

came together at the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles

their work in helping Iyengar Yoga make inroads into Arizona

to celebrate her 60th birthday. The idea was that Iyengar Yoga

and the Southwest is immeasurable. It is so valuable to have

teachers who have been longtime students of Lisa’s, many of

senior teachers who make regular trips to RIMYI come to our

whom have been her classroom assistants and also formally

area and share their knowledge with us.

mentored by her in their own certification process, would choose poses or sequences of poses that they think of as

Carolyn Belko came to Scottsdale in February for her biannual

“classic Lisa poses.” These are asanas that Lisa teaches regularly

workshop and teacher training. Her work as a mentor for

in her classes and to which she has added her unique

teachers in training in our region has seen four teachers

perspective, emphasis, and techniques, designed to convey

through the assessment process since her first visit in 2009,

deeper understanding and more physical accessibility.

with three more new teachers assessing this year under her mentorship. It is with the support of these senior-level

Once teachers had selected their poses, a sequence was written.

teachers that we are able to strengthen and grow Iyengar Yoga

On that Saturday night, Lisa’s students and friends crowded

in our community.

into the studio, settled onto their mats, and were led by Lisa through the Invocation to Patanjali. She then turned the class

We have also had workshops pertaining to general wellness

over to the teachers and took her place among the students.

that are a wonderful compliment to regular yoga practice.

Following class, guests indulged in delectable brownies,

Scottsdale Community College hosted a workshop on

macaroons, and cookies, courtesy of Jeff Perlman. A special

transitioning to a vegetarian diet in March. In the workshop,

saffron-laced rice pudding, adored by Lisa, was made and

students learned how to healthfully make the move to

served by Affi Bakhtiar.

vegetarianism with attention to complete nutrition. Also at the SCC Iyengar Yoga Center, Professor Pamela Matt of Arizona

We have created a digital outreach program that reaches out to

State University taught a week-long training in Mindful

the greater Los Angeles area. We are so spread out here, and

Movement based on the work of Mabel Elsworth Todd. These

many Iyengar Yoga students go to studios in their immediate

workshops were not just for yoga teachers and practitioners,

area, so many dedicated practitioners do not gather at the

but for all who want to understand their physical selves more

Institute to learn about B.K.S. Iyengar and his philosophy.

completely, so as to gain wisdom on the rest.

Therefore, we have expanded our newsletter to include articles and essays written by teachers and students. It turns out that

IYILA

we have a lot of good writers in our community who are eager

On Dec. 14, 2014, Dr. Ed Feldman, a longtime Iyengar Yoga

to share their thoughts. Every week, we post one piece on our

practitioner and medical doctor, helped the Iyengar Yoga

website (www.iyasc.org/articles-essays).

Institute of Los Angeles (IYILA) celebrate Guruji’s birthday with a talk titled “B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga, and Western Medicine.” He

In the fall, IYILA plans to expand to three asana rooms, add ing

spoke from years of studying yoga and medicine when he said:

another 50 percent to our teaching and support facilities. We are excited to have the room to offer more workshops and

“Despite our progress in Western medicine, much of the

forums for our community.

needed care for a patient remains beyond the scope of our training and our system. Enter B.K.S. Iyengar. Through his insistence, and I want to emphasize this word ‘insistence,’ on anatomical detail and alignment, we have learned that Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

7


ART, SCIENCE, AND PHILOSOPHY IN OUR PRACTICE BY LAURIE BLAKENEY

W

hat I love about the study, practice, and teaching of Iyengar Yoga is that it helps us to live an artistic, philosophical, and investigative life. Guruji, Prashant Sir, and Geetaji have often spoken and written about the art, science, and philosophy of yoga.

Gita, and the Upanishads among other texts. These works add color and texture to the asana and pranayama we practice. We have been advised by our teachers at RIMYI to study seriously, and often, the philosophical texts. As a result, our practice is not allowed to be merely physical or “health-oriented.” The scientists in society are the ones who have the creative and expansive intellects to consider new ideas, explore unknowns, and discover knowledge that has not before been examined. I am amazed by, and try to share, the science of yoga practice, as it has been developed by our Guruji, B.K.S. Iyengar. His penetrating understanding of human minds and bodies and his innovative approach with props and sequences makes us appreciate the “laboratory” approach as we investigate the subject. To live like scientists means we have to summon the courage and curiosity to surge into the unknown. Our practice gives us the tools to do this.

Laurie Blakeny takes Eka Hasta Bhujasana.

To live philosophically, scientifically, and artistically, we must be acute listeners and appreciative watchers. We need to

These three intersecting aspects, or perspectives, intrigue me,

embrace the art and science of learning itself. We must learn to

and I try to share that curiosity with my students. The artists of

be expressive—expressive and clear with our words, our

society are the ones among us who observe and comment on

movements, our actions, and our thoughts. And as artistic as

human life and nature—and God. They sing, sculpt, write,

the practice of yoga is, it is only on rare occasions a

dance, and paint our point of view into greater appreciation for

“performance art.” So there is no pressure to perform, and the

the nuance, variety, and glory of life. When we practice, we are

ego need not worry itself with that possible strain. Yoga is for

involved with this artistry and can devote it to a sacred awareness.

our own evolution, a philosophy that took B.K.S. Iyengar well into his nineties.

The philosophers in society are the ones who ask hard questions and challenge the human mind to explore truth,

Laurie Blakeney (Advanced Junior I) is the director of the Ann Arbor

aspects of knowledge, and moral living. I love to study and

School of Yoga. She has been studying Iyengar Yoga since 1971 and

share the philosophy of the Patanjali Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad

has studied at RIMYI every year since 1983.

8

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


THE LYRICAL LANGUAGE OF B.K.S. IYENGAR BY LAUREL RAYBURN

I

was lucky enough to be with my teacher and much of our Boston yoga community when Guruji’s body passed from Earth last summer. In the midst of so many stories and memorials, Patricia Walden spoke of the need to preserve B.K.S. Iyengar’s language and, in particular, the images

through which Guruji imagined and experienced asana and the path of yoga. I don’t know that it is possible to fully pay tribute to a man who rendered the muscles of the legs “free-flowing rivers,” the rib cage “tigers’ claws,” and the pores of the skin “inner eyes.” These images will live on as

Illus tration

: Curtis

o Settin

long as we feel them in our cells.

But as a student of both Iyengar Yoga and poetry, I am

Language always misses its mark, swerves, redirects, fails.

interested in how or why such images—and Guruji’s “poetry” in

Poetry was practically invented to call our attention to this fact.

general—have the power they do. While we take the beauty of

In poems, words are no more important than the white spaces

Guruji’s poetic language for granted, what exactly do we mean

among them. Poetry honors the gaps, double-meanings,

by “poetic” in this context? What do we hold to be true about

silences; it calls our attention to the way words either say too

poetry when we say that B.K.S. Iyengar’s language is “poetic” or

much or never enough. One thinks of Emily Dickinson’s famous

“lyrical”? How might his language work on us the same way

injunction: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant — / Success in

lyrical language does? And finally, what does “poetry” have to

Circuit lies.”

do with feeling on a cellular level? My hope is that in more closely examining the lyrical qualities of B.K.S. Iyengar’s language, we might better understand his philosophy of yoga

Mr. Iyengar’s language of asana is rife with poetic device

asana—the means through which the body becomes a “divine instrument” for the realization of the Self.

Literal and Imaginative Possibilities

To take a common example: In Basic Guidelines, Mr. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar instruct teachers that their words should “shoot

Any practitioner of Iyengar Yoga will attest to the precision of

like arrows to the part of the body [they] are teaching.” This

the method in general; for B.K.S. Iyengar, precision in language

instruction declares an allegiance with precise language.

is directly correlated to the precision of the body. And yet,

Comparing words to arrows suggests that the moment one

almost as frequently, his language is regarded as poetic. The

grasps for language that is direct, efficient, and unencumbered

two terms seem to contradict one another. If precise or direct

by figurative trappings is the exact moment in which figures of

language suggests an attempt to make language efficient, then

speech are necessarily summoned. The very attempt to

“poetic” implies the opposite. “Poetic” gives away the language

evacuate language of its symbolic or associative function

game, swerving the listener’s attention from what is being

produces more symbols, more associations. The instruction

communicated to how the communication is accomplished. Mr.

continues: “Charge their body with your verbal explanation and

Iyengar’s language of asana is rife with poetic device, from

charge your own body to show them. Do not use ambiguous

anthropomorphism, personification, and apostrophe to

words such as ‘charging.’” Here, they call attention to the way

hyperbole, chiasmus, simile, and metaphor. Such figures of

they are depending on linguistic indirection to achieve their

speech are hardly ever mistaken for direct language. How do we

meaning. “Charge” is the wrong word to use if a teacher wants

make sense of such a paradox?

to achieve the effect of charging!

As an Iyengar Yoga student, I have certainly been on the

Guruji’s language resists deciding between literal and

receiving end of language that feels like a direct address to my

imaginative possibilities. The instruction to “extend the inner

body. As a poetry student, I know that language is never direct.

edge of the big toe away from the foot,” for example, is

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

9


If Orpheus’ song inspires stones to move, Guruji, from the dullness of bodily tamas, awakens intelligence.

was said to move even rocks and stones through the beauty of his music. Ovid’s Metamorphoses tells of the way that even the trees, hearing such singing, uprooted themselves to converge in the place where he played. The lyric poet, epitomized by Orpheus, thus shifts the terms of the world itself: What is once

absolutely direct; the student’s attention is immediately drawn

still and stagnant gathers motion; what was once rooted

to a concrete and specific part of the body. Still, depending on

unbinds itself from the earth.

the experience and sensitivity of the student, this language may be as much “poetic” as it is “precise”; the instruction may

Although my claim is that Guruji’s language positions him—or

indeed lead to a physical shift in the body but also might

any Iyengar Yoga teacher—in this role to appreciate what

remain at the level of the student’s imagination. Whether or

address can do, I want to turn to an example of a nonaddress.

not the sadhaka can literally move the skin on the inner edge of

In one of my favorite passages from Light on Life, Guruji

her big toe, the assertion that she must, right now, take her

describes the innermost layer of the self as a doorway toward

attention to that tiny, specific site is an imaginary leap that

which prakriti longs: “An opening is like a doorway, and there is

shifts her to a different place altogether: “Can I feel the skin of

no such thing as a doorway that you can only go through one

the big toe? Is it moving? Is that the muscle or the skin?”

way. Yes, we are trying to penetrate in, but what is trying to

Whether or not the outer form appears different, the

come out to meet us? It is the light of the innermost sheath of

psychological landscape of the asana has changed completely;

bliss (ananda), which wants to shine out.” The beauty of the

the change in psychology in turn can have a physiological or

passage perhaps derives in part from the image of a living,

emotional effect. If the figure of speech misses its first mark, its

breathing purusa, greeting us as if we were long-lost travelers.

refracted trajectory nonetheless moves the sadhaka to a state of

The image of the doorway led me back to one of my favorite

deep concentration—a state of “toe intelligence.” We might say

poems. Jean Valentine’s “Door in the Mountain” describes a

that indirectness appears in the guise of directness, and yet the

weary body, running through valleys and (literally) carrying the

sadhaka performing asana is moved toward a meditative state.

burden of death:

Description Versus Direct Address

Never ran this hard through the valley

Directing an instruction to the inner edge of the big toe is one

Never ate so many stars.

example of Guruji’s play with modes of address. This is where, to my mind, his language truly becomes lyrical, in the technical

I was carrying a dead deer

sense of the term. Such modes of address flaunt one of lyric

tied on to my neck and shoulders

poetry’s great devices—the call to an inanimate object or absent being. Lyric forms address anything and everything.

deer legs hanging in front of me

(While most often the addressee isn’t the big toe, there is no

heavy on my chest

reason why it couldn’t be.) Consider the well-known lines from the Beatles’ “Blackbird”:

People are not wanting to let me in

Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these broken wings and learn to fly,

Door in the mountain

All your life

let me in

You have just been waiting for this moment to arise.

In some ways, the poem rewrites Guruji’s passage, but here, the emphasis falls on the one running toward the door; we don’t

The lines address a being that cannot possibly respond—at

yet have a vision of the one who will “come out to meet [her].”

least not in language as we know it.

There is another important difference between the two excerpts, however, which has nothing to do with the content of

In our everyday lives, we are less likely to initiate such a calling.

the poem and everything to do with the address—the trajectory

We don’t commonly find ourselves speaking to a blackbird as in

that the language takes. Guruji describes the image of “opening”

the lines above or conversing with a snail as American

as a doorway; he is addressing us as readers and students. The

modernist Marianne Moore does or praising a pair of socks as in

poem’s speaker, however, addresses the door in the mountain

the ode by Pablo Neruda or instructing death itself as in the

directly; she turns away from the reader to talk to the door

poem of John Donne. Importantly, in all of these instances, the

itself. The difference may seem small, but in the world of

lyric speaker endows an inanimate object with life in the very

poetry, everything can turn on the distinction between

gesture of speaking to it. And in fact, this role of the lyric poet

description and address. Consider the difference in the context

can be traced back to the story of the Greek god, Orpheus, who

of asana instruction: The description of an action in asana isn’t

10

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


The beauty of Guruji’s images and his penchant for figurative language is everywhere in his writing and continues in the voices of our senior teachers.

By the last stanza, however, he abruptly shifts to make demands on the innermost “soul”: speak! o soul of the soul of the soul o face that renders

as powerful as a direct address. Description reports on what’s

every created atom

there: The outer heel presses into the floor. Direct address has

articulate with love!

the power to invoke an action: Press the outer heel into the floor. Our attention swerves from the image of the wine bottle to this While we do not know exactly what a door in the mountain

sudden and urgent injunction. We do not know in the end

could be, we assume that both doors and mountains are

whether this innermost soul “speaks,” but we know our

inanimate, at least in the world as we know it. They do not

attention is moving in a different direction altogether.

move on their own. The call to the door in the mountain asks for a kind of cooperation that would defy the laws of physics; it

Guruji’s language takes a similar form when he renders parts of

asks something inanimate to move or act or open. The “I” in the

the body into addressees, listeners, or potential speakers

poem presumes that calling to the door might, in fact,

themselves. This gesture is consistent with his teaching that

accomplish its opening. In this way, lyric forms assume the

awareness is blocked if we experience consciousness only in

power of voice to invoke—to invoke motion where there was

the brain. In one passage in the “Stability” chapter in Light on

stasis, to invoke speech where there was muteness, even to

Life, he goes so far as to give voice to parts of the body.

invoke silence where there was restlessness or violence. In this

Instructing in how to work with the body’s limitations, he tells

sense, the job of the lyric poet is not to represent the thoughts

us, “Your brain may say, ‘We can do it.’ But the knee may say,

or feelings of a speaker whose presence precedes the poem but

‘Who are you to dictate to me? It is for me to say whether I can

to act out the somewhat outlandish attempt to animate

do it or not.’ So you have to listen to what the body says.

presence from absence. B.K.S. Iyengar’s language of asana

Sometimes the body cooperates with you, and sometimes it

mimics this ambition of the lyric poet. We have heard it again

thinks things over.” Like Valentine’s “door” and Rumi’s “soul of

and again—the invocation of the cells to awaken, to activate, to

the soul of the soul,” the brain abruptly becomes the object

pierce through their dullness. Referring to asana practice, Guruji

addressed. This example in particular shows how addressing a

tells us in Light on Life, “Never repeat. Repetition makes the

(presumed) inanimate entity renders them potential

mind dull. You must animate.” If Orpheus’ song inspires

responders. Although initially the brain has its say, the logic of

stones to move, Guruji, from the dullness of bodily tamas,

lyric address implies that the very fact of its speaking to the

awakens intelligence.

knee endows the knee with the power of response. The throwing of voice—the shift of address—enacts the hierarchal

As one instance of a poetic trope, lyric address is a mode of

reversal. And of course, this is exactly the reversal that Guruji

language that is constantly turning or shifting the attention of

asks us to pursue: a shift in awareness that renders the brain as

the reader or listener. (Indeed, the Greek root of the word

the observer—or the listener—rather than the actor.

“trope” is “to turn” or “turning.”) Lyric address often results in a play of voice trajectories—a poet invokes an inanimate object,

The beauty of Guruji’s images and his penchant for figurative

an “I” calls out to a “you,” a speaker turns away from his

language is everywhere in his writing and continues in the

audience to address the sky, the sunset, the clouds. In the

voices of our senior teachers. And yet, when we are at home,

previous example, the speaker seems to be describing her

practicing alone, our bodies also hear his words. Our bodies are

actions to her readers until she abruptly turns to address the

addressed. This is the lyric moment: the invocation to animate,

“door” itself. The position of the reader shifts quickly as she

the perpetual call to our cells that endows the smallest parts of

becomes an eavesdropper to a different conversation

our bodies with the capacity to think, respond, awaken. From

altogether. We see this also in the mystic poets. In one instance,

our first Tadasana, he has written, we begin to move toward the

the Sufi poet Rumi begins the first stanza of his poem “No

innermost sheath. He has called to our dullest places, and we

Longer Drunk but the Wine Itself” describing to us, his readers,

are calling back: Door in the mountain, let me in.

an image of a gnat drowned in wine: the gnat

Laurel Rayburn (Introductory II) received her Ph.D. in English from

is in the wine jar

Brown University, where she defended a dissertation on 20th-century

he is no longer drunk

American lyric poetry. She teaches academic writing for the Harvard

he is wine itself.

Extension School and for the college program inside the women’s prison in Washington State.

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

11


YOGI-ARTISTS EXPRESS THEMSELVES HOW DOES YOUR YOGA PRACTICE INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE LIFE? AND VICE VERSA?

“Iyengar Yoga helps me connect with myself in order to express

notice this in asana practice. The five kleshas (afflictions), for

the soul, to be courageous enough to put my art out to the

example, are easily recognizable when painting. When I’m in

public. Yoga makes my body and mind a clearer passage for

deeper concentration, all of this disappears. Through painting,

the spirit to create through the body. By learning to recognize

I understand what is meant by the act of painting, the painter,

the states of mind in yoga practice, I recognize those same

and that which is being painted, and in rare moments, it

states of mind when painting, so the painting as well as the

happens that it all comes together, and there is nothing but the

asana become a tool for reading the processes on the field of

state of being. Also, strangely, when painting asana, the area in

consciousness.

the body that I have not understood in practice comes out distorted and out of balance, and this points me toward the

“The processes in the consciousness that I notice when painting

direction of focus in my practice.”

are more easily recognizable when practicing asanas. For example, I notice using too much rational thinking when I’m

—Jana Chadimova, painter, Czech Republic

painting, rather than being present in the moment—and I also

Jana Chadimova working on Urdhva Dhanurasana in her studio. Photo: Daniel Papousek

12

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, work in progress by Jana Chadimova Photo: Daniel Papousek

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


“Iyengar Yoga has improved my painting process on a physical,

“Art helps me to be disciplined and practice yoga regularly, and

mental, and spiritual level. I now have no back pain. I carefully do

it gives me the patience required to work in other nonartistic

twists and turns when I place the brush on canvas, palette, water,

fields and the strength to confront some of life’s obstacles. The

cloth, etc. I am always conscious when coming in and out of a

process of creation has also given me a spiritual sense of

position. I’m also more relaxed, in the NOW, rather than focused

meaning, and I enjoy it immensely.”

on a deadline. I have a sense of meaning in what I do. —Mario Dubovoy, painter, Miami Beach, Florida

Mario Dubovoy at work

Mario Dubovoy painting

“I consider yoga an art and art to be yoga-like, so the process of creating all becomes one. Whether I’m painting, curating, practicing asana, or tying my shoe, they all feed each other in some mysterious way. At least that’s how I think about it!” —Sharon Hawley, painter and art curator, San Francisco

Sharon Hawley paints or sketches portraits of the mentally ill people she works with. She then photographs the portraits and transfers the images to other paper via chemical processes that erode the images, thereby depicting what she believes to be a more accurate image of the complexity of the human condition. “These downtrodden were ‘hung out to dry,’ so to speak, on a clothesline.” Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

13


“To create original, new art, I need time and a free mind. This

“Above all, I need to stay calm and keep the children safe and

doesn’t just happen; it takes work and practice and an

on a path of learning.

understanding husband. Practicing yoga helps my mind come to a present state, like a child’s mind, so I can actually see and

“I read in Light on Yoga about the art of teaching. After 12 years

feel what is going on around me and in front of me and in me.

of teaching yoga, it is becoming like art. The students become my material. I see how I can best mold or guide the material in

“When I create art, it is intuitive, a reaction based on years of

that moment, giving change a chance, experimentation a

training and practice.

chance, intuition a chance. In my personal practice of yoga, just like in my art, I fail frequently. It took me nearly eight years to

“When I teach art, I have a general plan, but that general plan

do a headstand on my own. My art has helped my yoga by

can go out the window when teaching children—I have nearly

allowing me the freedom to fail and to move on and try again

500 students in a week. Then it becomes the art of teaching. I

and again.”

have to see what materials I have, what students I have, what their abilities are, and how much time I have.

—Michelle Hill, painter, New York City

Michelle Hill’s class painting rain forest layers.

Michelle Hill, WaterTower, oil on copper

“In the early part of my exposure to Iyengar Yoga, the asanas

process of refining the asanas and truly seeking a meditation in

greatly influenced my dance language. Exaggerated versions of

action—which is such a huge part of the Iyengar system—that I

standing poses began appearing in the vocabulary of my

began to realize I needed to undo some of what I was bringing

dances. Twisting and spiraling motifs, with a pretty big

to yoga from my dance background. I thought I understood the

emphasis on breath and flow, broadness and span, became the

body and its mechanics, so it was like discovering for the first

basis from which I generated movement and how I built and

time that ‘that trick isn’t going to work here.’… I think perhaps

shaped the architecture of any given dance. However, now that

the thing that has most affected my Iyengar Yoga practice from

I am further along and perhaps deeper in my practice, the

my art is that I finally understood the importance of—to use

influence of Iyengar Yoga has moved beyond the physical into a

Geetaji’s term—donkey work. One has to go through the

place that has much more to do with the ability to arrive at a

process of holding poses—not necessarily moving through

clarity of intention for any given rehearsal period and the

them—to achieve a basic external understanding of the

ability to engage with what is happening right in front of me, at

structure of any given pose. In that sense, I brought to my

that present moment, in any given choreographic process.

practice a pre-existing understanding of the importance of refinement that is necessary in any artistic or creative endeavor.”

“There are certain obvious connections between asana practice and dance—flexibility, balance, and execution came somewhat

—Nicolo Fonte, choreographer, New York City and Portland, Oregon

easily from the beginning. However, it’s when you start the 14

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Nicolo Fonte, choreographer, New York City and Portland, Oregon

“Over the years, yoga has helped me learn to love and appreciate the process in both yoga and art. Finding content within the process instead of being so concerned with the end result has given me freedom from my perfection-seeking mind. Yoga has also taught me to listen to both my body and my art. In art, like yoga, nothing can be forced, you have to have a relationship with the material. But like the body in yoga, sometimes the ‘voice’ of the material is so quiet it will surely be missed by those who aren’t listening. Yoga has dramatically changed my perspective, my mindful action of making art, and my life. “My art helps me have a visual experience of some of the emotions I feel in my practice. Like yoga, art helps me clean out extra rubbish in the mind and body. Art has always been a place of constructive failure for me. One painting, successful or not, will inform and inspire the next painting, and so on. This has grounded me in a yoga practice that accepts and even embraces the challenges of failure in both practice and life.” —Margaux Jacobs, painter, Bellingham, Washington

Margaux Jacobs in Urdhva Mukha Vrksasana in front of a work in progress. Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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“At heart, both art and yoga grace me with space and breathing room for the spirit… When I calm my body, I calm my mind and start the free flow of imagination. When my mind is hijacked by thoughts of the everyday, my creativity is hijacked too. Yoga has taught me through asana and through the breath to slow down, quiet the mind, and awaken the spirit… “The sutras tell us that the goal of yoga is to bring your attention to one single point. Painting teaches me to focus my attention on the brushstrokes of the canvas in front of me. In fact, you have to focus or the result is a mess! “I have also learned that neither the study of yoga nor the study of painting will ever end. I’ll never know it all. Renoir’s last words about painting, at the age of 78, were, ‘I think I’m beginning to learn something about it.’ I’ve come to understand that observing how I react to the frustration and embarrassment of repeated attempts at a pesky pose is the practice itself. This understanding has helped me when the resolution of a creative project is maddeningly elusive. I’ve learned through yoga to breathe, relax, stay detached, and stop the self-talk of limitations.” —Dory Kanter, painter, Portland, Oregon

Dory Kanter, Misty Mountains, watercolor on paper. © 2015 Dory Kanter, www.dorykanter.com

“Yoga and writing poetry came springing up together in my life nearly 40 years ago, and each continues to be an essential wonder and a help to the other. A voice is embodied! To listen inwardly, to hear a live voice within, and to begin to write from a flow of sounds, rhythms, and images that surprise and spur me on to explore new territory in a poem: All of this happens most frequently when I’m deeply at ease in my body. “Any mindful practice of yoga—three handstands or a week’s intensive—can spark the muses, but an ongoing practice—continually growing and cultivating a calm mind, open heart, and strong body—is what, for me, feels needed to keep inspiration fresh in my life. “A new poem, from start to revision after revision to finish, lightens me, gives back insight. The whole creative process encourages me to keep my yoga practice a discipline and a delight. “To clarify, deepen, and expand awareness of the intricate harmonies of body and mind—that’s what we’re born for, we yogis!” —Rosie King, poet, Santa Cruz, California

“The physical part of creating fused glass and watercolors is harder on the body than most people realize. Physically, yoga helps me, and mentally and spiritually, it balances me. Yoga practice and teaching are creative acts for me.” —Josie Lazarus, glass artist, watercolor painter, Gilbert, Arizona 

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


“In my work, I look for moments that transcend time and the personal and touch the universal. My paintings are about the experience of such moments, when the ego steps aside and we just ARE, when the fabric of ‘reality’ is drawn back to reveal the true nature of things. “The stuff of life—your life—becomes the fodder for your art, intentionally or not. So that approach to life, that pressing desire to learn, to better understand myself (and the world outside) has helped to deepen my yoga practice. It is the constant relooking at the asanas, my experience of them from day to day, deconstructing and reconfiguring them as my body and understanding require: That is why I am an Iyengar Yoga practitioner and why the subject has held my interest for 25 years. There is always something new to discover, right within the confines of my own body, that incredible vehicle of the soul.”

—Melinda Morey, painter, Oakland, California

“As an artist, I once thought that abstraction and realism were simply the poles of a continuum, a way to identify what kind of art it is and produce it as such. Yoga’s influence has helped me see these things more as a circle containing no distinction between the abstract and the real and no particular set of reasons to make art other than to make art. Yoga has helped me see within my whole self, as a person, and therefore, as an artist.”  — Jim Orvik, painter and woodworker, Bellingham, Washington

Shelter by Melinda Morey Photo: Melinda Morey

“For me, creativity and yoga as practice has become a model for

myself. The greatest return, however, is looking into the eyes of

understanding the singular richness of integration. As a visual

another and knowing that all of these attributes are carried

artist, musician, writer, cook, gardener, and yoga practitioner, I

inside each living being.”

have been gifted with a deeper understanding of meditation, full presence in the moment, and a continuing residence in

— Judy Orvik, glass artist, Bellingham, Washington

gratitude. This, of course, happens when I get out of the way of

Spawn I watch you from the rotting wooden bridge in this long anticipated season repeating your ritual swim against the current, Imagining yourself into a silted conception. Are you weary in your wisdom as your deepened scaly shades wash away in creation, leaving some new deposit of possibility? Your old softening bones float out to sea one small ripple at a time. —Judy Orvik Spawn II by Judy Orvik Photo: Jim Orvik Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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“I find it challenging to do both [my creative work and my yoga practice]. Yoga and art are both practices that require tremendous amounts of time, contemplation, and devotion. For me, they are similar in some ways and also very different. At their essence they are both interested in form. In yoga, we do asana and pranayama to create a container, or form, for consciousness. I am an installation artist, so the discipline of yoga can be helpful in thinking about the way in which material forms in art create space. They are both creative practices at this level, open to innovation and imagination. However, in art that inner space is full of meaning and content, and in yoga I experience that space as empty—a kind of joyful void. Because my art form leads me to a space that is very content-rich, there is a lot of material to mine there. My art practice ensures a kind of awareness at that level. It keeps it real.” —Rebecca Weiseman, installation artist, Burlington, Vermont

“I have been a working artist making drawings, paintings,

“The path of Iyengar Yoga for me often starts in my feet as I feel

sculptures, and videos for over 30 years. My process is at times

Tadasana to be the ground within all my asanas, allowing for

meditative, repetitive, and precise; it also includes wondering

expansion in all directions while staying rooted. Bringing the

and wandering. I often work with structure; however, the

body both in toward and out from the center allows for

results are not always predictable.

movement and expansion both internally and externally.

“In my art-making, I tend to work in series, delving into

“Both yoga and visual art are embodied practices that begin

investigations that hold my attention, require my action, and

with shape and form and require intellect, sharpness, and

keep me curious. Different bodies of work activate or require

clarity. What holds my attention in both is when I find the

different kinds of attention from me and from the viewer as

balance that allows the body to recede along with the mind, as

well. Some guide the viewer in a way that allows the ego or the

in Savasana, and the freedom that comes with that.”

intellect to recede and invites them to see the work less with the mind and more with the body, while other work might

—Nancy Brooks Brody, visual artist, Brooklyn, New York

activate ideas and thought. Measure, repetition, and patterns in my work provide a ground that allows the viewer to go in or expand out while still having a path.

Nancy Brooks Brody,Yellow Shell

Nancy Brooks Brody, Merce Drawing, 2011 12” x 9“ 18

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


“For me, creating art is similar to Iyengar Yoga in the sense that I am present, very present. I am not at all concerned with the outcome of my piece. In fact, I don’t even know where it is going so there is no point in thinking or worrying about it. The process is the work for me. The pen goes down over here, the paint goes there, and while not arbitrarily placed on the page, the lines created inform me of my next move. But I must remain loose and not force the work for it to flow. “My art is always in my blood and bones, meaning it never leaves. I can take time off and I will always remember how to make beautiful lines on a page. However, if I take too much time off from producing work, it will take me a bit longer to get into the heart of creating. I may overthink things and have doubt if I haven’t practiced drawing in a Laghuvajrasana, with Sutra I.12 - Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tannirodhah by Jana Chadimova Photo: Daniel Papousek

while, and it doesn’t flow out of me with the same ease as it does when I am consistent

with my craft. In these ways, Iyengar Yoga reminds me to keep practicing and to not let too much time pass in between. Because as much as my nerves and muscles remember the poses, my head is too involved when my heart would serve me better.” —Eve Hammer, painter, Long Beach, New York

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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YOGA AND SCIENCE PART I: WAYS OF KNOWING BY SIEGFRIED BLEHER AND JARVIS CHEN Siegfried Bleher

Jarvis Chen Photo: Travis L. Kelley

I

ntermediate Junior III Iyengar Yoga teachers Jarvis Chen and Siegfried Bleher recently arranged to have an informal conversation about yoga and science. Jarvis is a public health scientist, a social epidemiologist who studies the effect of the social environment on health. Siegried teaches physics and studies nonlinear (chaotic) systems and their application to lowtemperature plasmas. The following is a portion of the conversation that took place Feb. 13, 2015. The intention of their

conversation was to inquire into the role science can or does play in the study and experience of yoga. The conversation will be presented in three parts: Part I: Ways of Knowing, Part II: Layers of Utthita Trikonasana, and Part III: Science and Samadhi. Siegfried Bleher: My deepest interest in talking about yoga

deeper interest? I have a deeper inquiry in mind. For example, I

and science is related to ways of knowing, but it is in the

have been drawn to physics and science out of a sense of

limits of knowing.

curiosity, but the more I understand, the more I am guided by a deeper drive to know. I am very much interested in, for

Jarvis Chen: I think that would be a fruitful way to frame it—

example, news about the Big Bang not being well-founded: If I

about the limits of the ways of knowing.

went into the state of samadhi, would I get any insights into such questions as the Big Bang? What intrigues me is the cross-

SB: I am not clear about your background…

over between Samkhya cosmology—cosmology informed by subjective experience—and scientific cosmology.

JC: Because my background is epidemiology, clearly the scientific project of proving the efficacy of yoga is something I

JC: It is interesting about Samkhya cosmology—are the

am familiar with—those techniques and how such studies are

assertions of Samkhya cosmology testable?

designed. And I have some ideas about critiquing what has been done so far, how it’s being approached by the scientific

SB: Well, here we go! They are the product of deep subjective

community. There is a set of contradictions between the way

experience. As such, they satisfy certain criteria for validation.

clinical science would prove the efficacy of yogic techniques

But are they testable in the usual scientific way? That is the

with the way we would approach yoga as a healing technique. I

question we are trying to address. That is, is the question well-

am also interested in the question “how do we know?” because

posed? And I don’t have answers for that.

the scientist part of me is interested in things like objective knowledge and replicability, and at the same time, I read the

JC: When people pose the question of testability, when people

Yoga Sutras and know that the highest forms of correct

conceive of their subjective experience of being-ness and

knowledge, of pramana, are direct experience, inference, and

tattvas (primary substances) that are articulated in Samhkya

testimony. But they are more subjective ways of knowing. To me

philosophy, are they articulating it as subjective experience or

that’s part of the essential way of framing different ways of

are they making assertions about the material reality of that

knowing: yoga as science and the scientific method as science.

subjective experience?

SB: I have been interested over the years in work by Ken Wilber,

SB: That is a great question! What I understand is that these

who has written about the “eyes of knowing,” which are

are assertions about objective truth, about objective reality.

numerous, but the simplest way of formulating this is as the physical eyes, eyes of the mind, and the eyes of spirit. Each is

JC: For me the question, “Is it well-posed?” hinges a little on the

valid, but deals with different kinds of information and so

relationship between the being that knows, or the process of

requires different ways of validating information. In a sense, we

knowing, and the prakritic world around us. When people say

could address the question of ways of knowing from this sort of

they have a subjective experience of something, what is that as

framework.

a way of knowing, exactly? What is the process by which a subjective experience becomes an assertion about the nature of

I am also wondering about giving our discussion a personal

material reality?

take: What is it that we are ultimately “pulled by”? What is our

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


It is the limitations in one way of knowing that reveal a different way of knowing.

that touches on the truth. But I don’t know what that is compared with what I have been trained to think of as external, valid, replicable, verifiable ways of knowing. These are different activities. There is this experience I have with sadhana, especially with Guruji’s method, that gives me the experience that

SB: There are two issues, from my perspective. One is, if I have

something is true, that is different from other ways of knowing.

an experience, what is my inner criterion that tells me I can believe it to be a true experience? That is independent from

SB: Suppose you were to pose a question that is amenable to

whether this experience is verifiable by others.

scientific inquiry, something I have experience in or that you have experience in. Suppose you or I went into a deep intuitive

JC: That is a bit like Sutra II.22 krtartham prati nastam api

state, either absorption or a deep meditative state. Would we be

anastam tadanya sadharanatvat: “The relationship with nature

able to discover or find answers, before generating scientific

ceases for emancipated beings, its purpose having been

results, that might be confirmed or discount our answer?

fulfilled, but its processes continue to affect others.” For the person who has achieved Kaivalya, the material world still

JC: I don’t know the answer to that!

exists. To me this has always been dealing with the fundamental question of whether beings can have their own

SB: I am going to bring in a couple of things. I am familiar with

experience of material reality, or is material reality entirely the

work of neuroscientist Donald Hoffman, who talks about

projection of the one purusha projecting into prakriti?

conscious agents that, in a way, create a shared reality as a result of the mutual interactions of conscious agents. He claims

SB: I recall a sutra in the fourth pada as well that speaks about

that nothing can be discovered beyond those mutual

and discounts solipsism, which I think is related to what you

interactions. By the nature of how the senses work and how we

are referring to. Sutra IV.16 says: na ca ekacitta tantram ced vastu

interact with one another, to claim that something is really “out

apramanakam tada kim syat: “An object exists independent of its

there,” independent of us, independent of the observer, is

cognizance by any one consciousness. What happens to it when

missing the point of our interactions. So that’s one thing. The

that consciousness is not there to perceive it?” (B.K.S. Iyengar,

other thing I wanted to mention is that from a fundamental

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)

view of nature founded in quantum physics, there is also the idea that whatever we see or believe to be true is in part a

JC: I think this is one of the foundational concepts in Samkhya

reflection of our own views, what we bring to the observation.

philosophy, as opposed to those philosophies that claim

They are inseparable from each other.

subjective experience is all maya (illusion). JC: Although it is also true that most physical things we observe SB: So, which of these “darsanas” do we subscribe to? I myself

in the regular world are well-enough described by Newtonian

believe that one’s life is to a large degree determined by our

mechanics. For most regular things we observe in the world, we

personal answer to this question. But we may never really

don’t see the underpinnings of the observer-related

know, beyond our choice.

phenomena. But it’s the stuff at the edges where that becomes relevant.

JC: So even in Samkhya philosophy, all of prakriti, from the most subtle and undifferentiated to the most differentiated, has all

SB: That’s right, but on the other hand, yoga brings us to the edge.

the undifferentiated or unmanifest elements as potent or potential within it. So as a result, mind is present: both cosmic

JC: Exactly, that’s a good way of putting it!

consciousness (mahat) and individual consciousness (buddhi) are present in the evolutes of prakriti. So it does speak to all of

SB: Our instruments and our senses bring us to that edge.

our material reality being, if not a projection of the mind, at

Microscopes that reveal things we can’t see with our unaided

least generated and evolved out of a more primal intelligence.

senses show us that the process of “seeing” is more involved

For me the other thing I want to bring into this is, to go along

than we think. With the visual sense, for example, which we

with subjective knowledge, “flashes from inside,” in the way

take for granted, there is a deep, complicated process that takes

Guruji talks about instinct and intuition in one’s practice: Often

place.

the body responds in an instinctual way, but the way we apply our intelligence makes it possible to have intuition. And I think

JC: In a way, this helps to frame why these ways of knowing feel

of that intuition as the part of the subjective way of knowing

quite different. It is that they deal with the inquiry about the

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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The new way of knowing becomes active and influences the former ways.

Each person or perspective requires its own form of inquiry and process of validation. When we talk about the benefits of yoga, there is such a complex mixture of the different persons: If I have back pain, I may have pain without noticeable structural dysfunction as shown by X-rays. Or there may be a structural

nature of experience, the nature of existence and experience in

issue but without pain. There is a kind of physical verifiable

different domains of existence, sort of the everyday versus the

structural dysfunction, but the subjective experience may not

stuff at the edges.

match. We assume there is a degree of matching between the physical verifiable world and the inner world of experience, but

SB: And interestingly enough, it is the limitations in one way of

there is enough evidence to show that is not always true—they

knowing that reveal a different way of knowing. We push one

don’t always match. The idea of layering, the idea that deeper

particular way of knowing to its limit, and it doesn’t simply

forms of prakriti are embedded in more differentiated forms, to

disintegrate, but it reveals, through its limitations, another

me implies a kind of ordering—one is more primary. If you are

domain. That’s what I see has happened in 20th-century

able to view life from the undifferentiated layer, then you have

physics: the revelation of the depth of involvement of the

a different view that is influenced by that perspective of the

observer in what she is observing, as a limitation of Newtonian

physical layer—you experience the physical layer in a different

physics. And now quantum physics is encountering limitations

way; the physical eyes are changed by the spiritual eyes. So

as well. And so, embedded within the way of knowing described

there is a kind of backward causation. The new way of knowing

by quantum physics, I believe there is another realm that is

becomes active and influences the former ways. There is a

embedded within that as a seed—and maybe the intuitive

temporal ordering in the sense of the new ways of knowing

realm is embedded?

emerging when the former way reaches its boundaries. But there is also an ordering in terms of layering or complexity.

JC: I think that one of the reasons we were asked to talk about this is exactly the perception of contradictions between the

JC: This reminds me of things Guruji said about his experience

scientific ways of inquiry and yoga: framing this in terms of

of doing and seeing as someone who has done versus, for most

what is revealed at the limits of one method and as the place

of us, the experience of doing and seeing as people who are still

where another method comes in is a really great way of

seeking to do and see.

framing it and a nice perspective. I have been thinking about what Guruji means when he says “intelligence.” What is the

SB: In a simple way, I think we can probably all experience

intuition that gives us that certainty that “this is correct, this is

something similar as practitioners. When we first practice

true”? A different part of me would have been encouraged to be

Utthita Trikonasana we have whatever that experience is like.

quite skeptical about me being a single observer, making an

After 10 or 20 years, we still practice Utthita Trikonasana, but

observation, and asserting that it’s true. I do think that most of

that experience is different, isn’t it? I can recall Prashant’s

the questions about efficacy of yogic techniques happen

description of Utthita Trikonasana as almost a pivot for every

entirely within the real world, and you can use standard

other pose, but that was certainly not my first encounter with

scientific methods for them. At the same time, I think there is a

the pose. But now I can have some inkling what he means. The

problem with a tendency in clinical studies to assume there is a

other dimension of this is that now when I practice Utthita

large population of exchangeable subjects that we can test

Trikonasana, the layers I’m touching in myself are multiple,

something on, when in fact, even doing something quite simple

whereas the first few years it was strictly the muscular, or

with a yoga student who has a problem is a very individualized

physical, layer. So once a different way of knowing becomes

process and a very subjective one. Even there, the tension

active, it starts to reframe the previous layer, what came before it.

between making replicable observations in the day-to-day world versus the importance of the individual’s experience and

JC: I think talking about Utthita Trikonasana is a great way to

the perception of that experience—the fact that these run into

frame this idea of the involution of the way of knowing in a

each other is a problem.

clear way.

SB: So, Ken Wilber tried to address the different “voices” or

In Part II, Siegfried and Jarvis will continue their conversation on Utthita Trikonasana and the many layers we touch when we practice this and every other asana.

persons during speech and inquiry. First person can be individual or multiple (“I” or “we”), second person “you” as individual or multiple, and “it” can also be individual or plural.

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


BODY SENSATIONS: NEUROBIOLOGY, LEARNING TO FEEL, AND SENSORY TEAMWORK BY GIN MCCOLLUM

M

ost of us must learn to feel, as an artist learns to see in order to draw. All of the physiological processes of feeling and seeing can happen with no awareness at all, when the mind is wandering elsewhere. Essential to the learning process is awareness, prajna. With no awareness, we have unconscious sensations, not conscious perceptions.

The light striking the retina of the eye is the first step in seeing. A

temperature. Of the many types of touch receptors and

great deal more happens in the visual part of the cerebral cortex,

sensations, body position and movement are sensed

at the back of the head, and along the pathways to it. The

particularly with deep pressure, skin stretch, and light touch.

conscious experience of seeing is typically correlated with neural activity in the visual part of the cerebral cortex. Probably the

Deep pressure is typically felt at the base of a pose, where the

whole brain is reorganized in the process of becoming an artist.

body rests against the ground. Such foundations include the soles of the feet in Tadasana and the skin under the sit bones in

Similarly, body feeling, or somatosensation, starts in receptors

Dandasana, along with the skin under the thighs and calves.

in the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Pathways

Deep pressure is also felt in the forearms in Sirsasana. In

through the spinal cord to the brain communicate sensations.

addition to the deep pressure at the base of the pose, deep

At the same time, the neural activity is combined, as light

pressure may be felt where two body parts press against each

sensations are combined into lines and shapes before we see a

other. For example, in Marichyasana III, the back of the upper

scene. The process of learning to feel brings awareness, prajna,

arm presses against the outer knee, with both experiencing

to these combinations of body sensations and to the whole

deep pressure. In Bakasana, the inner knees press into the upper

experience of feeling.

arms. The inner knees also press into the upper arms in Bhujapidasana, where they are draped over the arms, and the

We each learn individually how an asana feels. For example, in

deep pressure between the limbs serves as a guide for staying

Tadasana, I feel the pressure on the soles of my feet, the muscle

in position and avoiding slipping.

feel of straightening the hips and lifting the chest, and the skin stretch in the arms and hands. What do you feel? To stand upright, we also use vision, aligning ourselves to the trees or walls around us. The receptors of the inner ear communicate further gravitational information along pathways to the eyes,

Practicing the various asanas provides a framework for learning to feel, as drawing provides a framework for learning to see.

neck, and spinal cord. Practicing the various asanas provides a framework for learning

Skin stretch may be more individual. I feel skin stretch in my

to feel, as drawing provides a framework for learning to see. An

upper arms in Urdhva Hastasana in Tadasana. In Utthita Hasta

asana is typically experienced as a whole, rather than as a

Padangusthasana I, I feel skin stretch at the back of my lifted

scattering of sensations. That whole experience is formed as

thigh. In Utthita Trikonasana, I feel skin stretch over the upper

the body sensations are combined in spinal pathways, the

hip. Basically, skin stretch is felt where the asana asks us to

brainstem, and the brain. We will start with the receptors in the

elongate more than we usually do. As with deep pressure, skin

skin, familiar as touch, because their separate qualities tend to

stretch is often a good guide to the integrity of the pose. For

be easier to perceive.

example, in Utthita Parsvakonasana, am I really stretching well,

Touch and the Various Receptors in the Skin

all the way from the back foot along my side to the fingertips of my up arm? Skin stretch can answer that question.

The menagerie of touch receptors in the skin remind me of the tiny curlicues found in embroidery and filigree but placed

Light touch is often felt during movement. For example, your

separately. And they are much tinier. For example, the ball of

t-shirt may brush lightly against your skin as you move into a

each thumb contains about 500 touch receptors. Furthermore,

pose. Similarly, your hair may lightly brush your skin. The hair

there are different kinds of receptors for different sensations,

itself has its own receptors, spiraling around the hair follicle,

such as light touch, deep pressure, motion of a hair, pain, and

giving hair a wonderful sensitivity to touch. A breeze may stir

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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Becoming aware of the separate sensations is one way to deepen the experiences of an asana and of movement.

follicle receptors wrap around hair follicles. About the hip, sensation is primarily by means of muscle receptors. However, more generally, position and movement are sensed by a combination of tendon, ligament, joint, and muscle receptors.

your hair or lightly touch your skin. These light-touch receptors contribute almost all the time to the sensation of motion, as do

Muscle spindles include a special system that allows them to

the deep pressure and skin stretch receptors. T-shirt motion

be particularly adaptable, as we change position or, perhaps,

often forms part of the mix when performing simple trunk

over time as our body changes with practice. A muscle spindle

twists, such as are used to get into any number of asanas, for

sits in the muscle tissue and feels it lengthen. Within the

instance, Parsva Upavista Konasana. I notice light touch

muscle spindle are separate little muscle fibers that keep the

especially when I am practicing at home in loose, fleece pants,

muscle spindle taut when the muscle contracts. The sensitivity

doing standing poses or inversions.

of the muscle spindle and the little muscle fibers within the spindle cooperate to produce sensations appropriate to the

Becoming aware of the separate sensations is one way to

movement. That cooperation gives the muscle spindle system

deepen the experiences of an asana and of movement. However,

extra adaptability, as we practice and learn to feel.

body feelings are typically mixed. Awareness typically focuses on the feeling of a coherent body position or movement, not of

Standing poses such as Virabhadrasana III and Utthita

a scattering of separate touch sensations.

Trikonasana challenge us to gain awareness of the muscle sensations associated with hip movements. Most people come

The sensations most characteristic of the touch receptors of the

to yoga with an ability to stand upright or align themselves

skin are known because it has been convenient to do

visually with the walls, or both at once. However, sensitivity to

experiments in which special probes, such as fine hairs, are

hip movement and position is less common. Therefore, in

used to stimulate receptors separately. In addition, it has been

learning Utthita Trikonasana, we are taught to visually align our

possible to follow the way neural activity from receptors in the

feet to the walls and our trunks over the line between our feet.

skin is combined as it follows pathways to the brain. Sensations

Vision tutors body feeling. Gradually, with the help of vision, we

on the fingertips and face are finely separable in awareness,

learn the sensations in our hips associated with rotating the

whereas those on the back are only coarsely so. When

front leg, with rotating the trunk over the front leg, and with

sensations from a large area have been combined, especially

turning the trunk up so that the top arm can reach straight up.

from places that are more obscure, the brain sometimes assigns

These hip sensations are likely to be individual, because of the

awareness to a different part of the area than the part that was

complexity of the hip musculature, shape and proportion

stimulated. For example, stomach discomfort may be felt in the

differences between people, and differences in flexibility, which

shoulders. Similarly, rotator cuff inflammation is often felt

change with time and practice.

halfway down the upper arm. Such examples are called “referred pain.”

Awareness of the Whole Motion For movement, it is more important where you are reaching

It has been more difficult to experimentally separate out the

your arm or leg—in which direction and how far—rather than

sensations from muscle, tendon, ligament, and joint receptors.

at what angle you are holding your knee or elbow. For example,

This difficulty arises partly from the way the nervous system

coming down out of Ardha Chandrasana, the top foot reaches for

mixes the various sensations as they follow pathways to the brain.

the floor at a suitable distance behind the standing foot. You

Awareness is thought to happen in the brain but can be of

can’t see, but everyday practice has given you the body feeling

anything the nervous system contacts. In those pathways and in

to place that foot. Everyday movements include reaching a foot

the brain, sensations become part of the team that shape a

toward a step or a hand toward a pencil, so that unfolding an

movement, such as walking or bringing a cup to your lips.

arm or leg to the right combination of hip-knee-ankle or

Muscle, Tendon, Ligament, and Joint Receptors

shoulder-elbow-wrist angles is well-practiced. One of the early tasks in asana practice is to jump or step the

In my current stage in Virabhadrasana III, I move slowly into the

feet four to four and a half feet apart for standing poses. At

pose, keeping my body well balanced over the standing foot. In

first, we peer at our feet, visually estimating the distance

holding the pose, I take pleasure in the feeling of activating the

between. With practice, body feeling can take over in sensing a

muscles of the upper back and of the lifted leg, especially the

wide, wider, or very wide stance. A person could probably

back of the thigh. The balance issues make me aware of the

become quite accurate at jumping the feet to a particular

small shifts in activity among the hip muscles of the standing

distance with the eyes closed. However, it’s natural to continue

leg. All of these muscle sensations use the muscle spindles,

using cooperation between vision and body feeling. Teamwork

which wrap around muscle fibers somewhat the way hair

among senses is the norm in movement, where the cooperation

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


can be between vision and body feeling, or other senses, or among the various body-feeling receptors.

Attention to one’s own body senses has to be an individual practice; it is not a treatment that someone else can perform on you.

This sensory cooperation forms an active system that you mold with your movements, including your yoga practice, as you learn

foam rubber and learned to distinguish different hardnesses of

to feel. Learning to see involves eye movements and the brain.

foam rubber with their feet. This exercise brought their

Learning to feel involves spinal pathways, the brain, learning

attention to body feeling. The researchers found that the elders

new movements, and change of muscle and connective tissue as

who became more aware of the feeling in their feet improved

we practice.

their balance abilities.

Maintaining Sensory Teamwork

Attention to one’s own body senses has to be an individual

With age, some people lose the teamwork among their senses

practice; it is not a treatment that someone else can perform on

(an aspect of sensorimotor integration, which is important for

you. I would like to see more knowledge and methods become

people of all ages). By using awareness, we build up the

available to those inclined to take personal responsibility for

teamwork among our senses. By ignoring one sense or

their own resilience in balance, mobility, and general health. In

overemphasizing another, a person can lose that teamwork.

Iyengar Yoga, there is a helpful emphasis on precision in asanas

Most commonly, elders overemphasize vision. Vision is easily

and on svadhyaya, which includes the awareness of body feeling.

available to awareness and seems precise. That’s why we use it in learning asanas such as Utthita Trikonasana. However,

Body feeling is an essential part of our balance and mobility

depending on vision alone limits balance resilience. As in

system that, when ignored, tends to fade over time. However,

finance, diversification is a good idea for sensing where your

awareness and practice can keep it strong and vivid.

body is in space and for avoiding a fall. Gin McCollum is a theoretical neurobiologist (www.works.bepress.com/ In an experiment by a Japanese team published in the June 2009

gin_mccollum) who has been practicing yoga, mostly the Iyengar

issue of Clinical Rehabilitation, elderly people stood on blocks of

method, for about 24 years.

PREPARING FOR PRASHANT BY ANNE-MARIE SCHULTZ

I

first went to Pune in July 2007. During that trip, my sister and I took the majority of our classes with Geeta Iyengar. Our first practice session coincided with Prashant’s birthday, so Pandu escorted us to a space right in front of Prashant. What an auspicious start.

Anne-Marie Schultz in front of the institute—Pune, India

Prashant gave a short talk on the importance of learning the

exposure to Prashant, I realize that my perplexity resulted from

subject of yoga. He is a teacher of yoga, not a guru. He teaches

a lack of familiarity with him. Unfortunately, I didn’t take his

that learning the subject of yoga prepares us to be worthy of a

classes often enough for his teachings to make as much of an

guru-sisha relationship. His humility was remarkable. I

impression on me as our five classes a week with Geeta did.

embraced the opportunity to learn the subject of yoga more deeply while we were there. However, our main contact with

Nonetheless, his ideas worked their way into me. “Prepare

Prashant was the “Tuesday Evenings with Prashant” class. We

yourself” and “The outfit of the mind” and “Create a culture for

listened to a highly nuanced philosophy lecture while hanging

yog” became permanent parts of my internal discourse about

in Rope Sirsasana or coiling over a chair in Dwi Pada Viparita

how I prepare myself for yoga practice and for what I hope to

Dandasana or studying ourselves in Utthita Trikonasana.

achieve both on and off the mat. Prepare yourself, prepare yourself, prepare yourself. Any time I’m in chair Dwi Pada for

As a professional philosophy teacher, I didn’t mind the

any length of time, this one comes to my mind and a smile

philosophy, but I found the format pedagogically perplexing.

comes to my face. Prashant didn’t say much about exactly what

Was I supposed to concentrate on the pose or the philosophical

we are preparing ourselves for. At first, I took it like the Boy

point? Should I pay attention to the sequence of postures or the

Scout motto, “Be prepared.” After a couple classes, I sensed that

unfolding of the philosophical ideas? As I reflect on that initial

philosophy for Prashant is, much like philosophy was for

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


When I heard “prepare yourself” this time, I realized almost immediately that Prashant was preparing us for the practice of YOG in the absence of B.K.S Iyengar.

repeated claim that “yoga happens under a spell.” I started a blog during my 2007 trip and have kept up that regular practice. In 2014, it was quite natural to write every day about Prashant. There was so much to say. The blog developed

Socrates, a protreptic endeavor. This view of philosophy regards

quite a following while I was there. The fact that I knew people

the practice as a continual process of engagement, not as a

were reading encouraged me to write in more detail. I wanted

means of acquiring truth. Philosophical instruction aims at

to share as much of the experience as I could. Its popularity

engaging students in the process of becoming prepared to be

illustrates a bit of the collective yoga mentality that Prashant

philosophical. Teaching is preparation, not the transmission of

exhorted us to cultivate. My blog is not just for me. It is beyond

knowledge. Not long after that first trip, I asked Eddy Marks if

me, mine, and in me. Sometimes I wrote about daily life in

Prashant thought philosophy was anything other than this

Pune: the rickshaws, the pigs, the pollution. Other times I wrote

preparation, and Eddy said, “Yes. But the majority of people are

about parallels between Prashant’s philosophy and the Ancient

not ready.”

Greek philosophy I study professionally. Sometimes I tried to describe class. Other times I tried to capture a few important

I guess I was not quite ready either. For a variety of personal

points and write a bit about them.

reasons (moving to Austin, getting a golden retriever puppy named Milo, buying a new house, and marrying my wonderful

Here’s a post from our third day there:

husband, Jeff), Pune faded into the background of my new life. It was something I had done but not something I was definitely planning on doing again.

1. “You may think that what I am talking about is complicated. You are complicated. My teachings are not.” We are complicated because we are distracted by what is not

Then early in 2012, Jeff decided he wanted to make the trip. I

important, or not real. When our focus is on essential things,

said, “Okay. Let’s do it.” We started to “prepare ourselves.”

we become simple. Prashant’s teachings aim to take us there,

Imagine my delight when during one of the first classes

but because we are complicated, we do not recognize the

Prashant said, “I’m going to assume that you are prepared, so

simplicity of seeing the seer.

now the project is to go further.” 2. “Cultivate the difference between sensitivity and literacy.” I thought to myself, “Well, maybe he’s just going further

From a yoga perspective, we have to do more than be sensitive

anyway.” It is hard to believe we were collectively more

to what is going on within ourselves. We have to develop the

prepared. But perhaps our collective studentship had

capacity to know why yoga works. We must know how the

developed. I’m certainly more prepared than I was in 2007. I’ve

various techniques and poses have the effects that they do. We

spent eight more years in practice and study. I’ve completed

must learn to read and interpret the text of the body.

another level of certification and am studying for yet another one. Not that Prashant himself considers that process any kind

3. “You must become a student of the master inside of you.”

of real preparation, but I felt more prepared.

That is the real teaching of yoga. Don’t look for the spiritual master to be outside. You already know enough to be your own

When I heard “prepare yourself” this time, I realized almost

teacher. What timely advice for those who are here looking for

immediately that Prashant was preparing us for the practice of

some glimpse of the master.

YOG in the absence of B.K.S Iyengar. My memories of this 2014 trip are colored with the reality of Guruji’s passing. Almost every evening in June, we saw Guruji outside in the courtyard,

4. “99.9 percent of yoga students who come here are heading toward disappointment.”

beatifically receiving pranams (a respectful greeting made by

While this claim seems harsh, it is probably true.

putting one’s palms together and often touching the feet of the

Disappointment comes because we work only with the physical

person greeted). We witnessed Guruji’s last days in the practice

body. Therefore, “can’t do” is a major problem. We have to

hall in early July. I remember my experiences in Prashant’s

cultivate the resources to approach the practice differently. In a

classes in this special light of yoga.

sense, we need to practice detachment, the second wing, while we can still do. If we wait until we “can’t do” to start cultivating

Prashant almost completely defined our class experience. I had

those other aspects of practice, it will be too late.

Prashant three times a week. Jeff had him four times a week. My mentor, Laurie Blakeney, suggested that I read some of Prashant’s writings and listen to some of his tapes before we went so that I

5. We have to move from pose to asana and beyond asana to yogasana.

would not waste the first couple of weeks learning how to listen to

Yoga is citta vrtti nirodha. We have to know the mindset that we

him. That was excellent advice. From the first class on June 1, I

are looking for. Prashant also mentioned the Bhagavad Gita to

was completely captivated. I experienced quite vividly Prashant’s

help us understand this aim (Book 2, 14, 18). We have to

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

27


cultivate the mind of the yogi in asana. If we are not going

object. Then, treat the mind that knows or the process of

toward yogasana, then asana falls back into mere pose or

knowing that as an object. The part of you that is able to do

posture.

that is the knower. Treat that too as an object and you are approaching the yogic state of mind.

6. “You have to be your own social media network.” We must work with integration with the various parts of

10. “Create a better lesson for yourself.”

ourselves. Work with the breath, particularly the exhalation. We

After we cycled through rope Sirsasana (by the way, ladies did

must isolate various parts and see the effect. We must

not get to go first), he gave us a choice between doing Janu

coordinate the effect of these parts.

Sirsasana, chair Sarvangasana, or Viparita Karani. The idea of getting out a chair and finding a place for it was a little much

7. A humorous interlude about income tax.

for me. Also, finding a place at the wall seemed daunting. I had

Prashant told this very funny story about using his “crafty

just come out of rope Sirsasana, which I was in for the whole

mind” to provide the Indian government with documents that

knower, knowing, and the known talk. I was feeling a bit dizzy. I

proved yoga was an art form.

created the lesson of Janu Sirsasana for myself. As we were in this final pose, Prashant said, “I’ve attempted to teach you

8. “I haven’t taught a new point about asana in many years.”

something. You probably won’t do your homework, so I’m

The point is to move beyond the accumulation of points. At the

giving you time to do some now. Review what you’ve learned

same time, you can’t just do whatever you want in a pose. At

and what you think you need to learn. Create a better lesson for

slightly after an hour in, Prashant paused, looked at the clock,

yourself than I’ve been able to give you.”

and said, “This part of the lesson is adjourned. We should be clear that it is not over but adjourned.” We went onto part two:

Anne-Marie Schultz (Intermediate Junior I) teaches philosophy and

epistemology.

yoga in Austin, Texas. Read her blog at www. teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.

9. The knower, knowing, and the known. First, recognize that you know something. Treat that as an

IS YOGA A RELIGION? BY JOHN SCHUMACHER

I

n the 70s, I taught yoga for the Montgomery County Department of Recreation (in Maryland), which held many of its adult education classes, including yoga, in local public schools. Shortly after I began teaching, someone filed a separation of church and state complaint, claiming that a government facility shouldn’t be promoting any religion

and that yoga was a religion. The Rec Department officials asked me if I thought yoga was a religion. I said I did not, so they asked me to write a letter to that effect. Apparently it was convincing enough, because I continued to teach those classes for several more years.

John Schumacher in Sidhasana

Now, after 40 years of teaching and study, my reply to the question, “Is yoga a religion?” is a bit more nuanced. This question has been floating around yoga and religious

major schools of thought, or darshanas: Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya,

circles for a long time and still evokes everything from fierce

Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The underlying thread

partisan debate to shoulder shrugs. Some fundamentalist

between these six darshanas, they say, is the acceptance of the

Christian groups claim that yoga is a false religion and is really

Vedas as the supreme revealed scriptures. They declare that it is

the work of the Devil. Father John A. Hardon, a close associate

with this very basic understanding in mind that yoga should be

and advisor of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Mother

examined and its roots in Hinduism be properly acknowledged.

Teresa, says that yoga is incompatible with Catholicism because it is the best known practice of Hindu spirituality.

On the other side of the coin, many yoga teachers and

Father Gabriele Amorth, the former chief exorcist (!) of the

practitioners strongly resist the idea of yoga as a religion, claiming

Vatican, says yoga can lead devotees to Hinduism. “Practicing

that it is, in fact, a spiritual practice quite apart from religion.

yoga is Satanic,” he says. B.K.S. Iyengar, in an email interview for Beliefnet with Corinne The Hindu American Foundation, as part of its Take Back Yoga

Schumann, said, “Yoga has a lot to offer to people, whatever [their

movement, points out that Hinduism contains within it six

faith]. It has no geographical boundary, gender, caste, or religion.”

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


At the closing ceremony of the “Yoga into the 21st Century”

perhaps, based on the Latin religare, “to bind.” Wictionary says that

conference in New York City in September 2000, T.K.V. Desikachar,

ligare means “to tie, bind, or unite.” (Think ligament.) Of course, it’s

Krishnamacharya’s [Guriji’s guru] son and Mr. Iyengar’s nephew,

fairly well known that the word yoga derives from the Sanskrit

offered some thought-provoking comments on the subject,

root yuj, meaning to yoke or unite. So it can be seen that from a

especially in relation to the preceding comments by the Hindu

linguistic point of view, at their roots, religion and yoga share the

American Foundation. “Yoga was rejected by Hinduism,” he noted,

same meaning of uniting or joining.

“because yoga would not insist that God exists. It didn’t say there was no God but just wouldn’t insist there was.” And, he added,

As far as I know, most of the established religions of the world,

there was an important lesson for yogis inherent in this schism:

and certainly all of the major ones, grew out of one person’s or a

“Yoga is not a religion and should not [affiliate] with any religion.”

small group of persons’ direct experience of some force, power, presence, being, essence that transcends our mundane experience

Phil Catalfo, in a 2007 article for Yoga Journal, suggests, “Perhaps it

of the world and our place in it and touches a state of

would be helpful to consider the difference between the word

consciousness that sees (in the deepest sense of that word) the

‘religion’ and another word commonly associated with it,

divine nature of the unity of all things, including you and me. In

‘spirituality.’ Spirituality, it could be said, has to do with one’s

Light on Yoga, Guruji says, “The system of yoga is so called because

interior life, the ever-evolving understanding of one’s self and

it teaches the means by which the jivatma [the individual human

one’s place in the cosmos—what Viktor Frankl called

spirit] can be united to or be in communion with the Paramatma

humankind’s ‘search for meaning.’ Religion, on the other hand,

[God].” In that sense, then, yoga is religious in that it deals with

can be seen as spirituality’s external counterpart, the organizational

the experience of our essential connectedness to the Cosmos—

structure we give to our individual and collective spiritual processes:

and it’s a system, a structure.

the rituals, doctrines, prayers, chants, and ceremonies, and the congregations that come together to share them.”

Going back to Catalfo’s comments on the distinction between “religion” and “spirituality,” perhaps one source of the problematic

Although it’s a tidy distinction and recognizes a role for both

nature of the question is relying on the dictionary definition of

religion and spirituality, it seems to imply that the difference

religion especially as it relates to the issue of organization.

between spirituality and religion is that religion is an organized

Restricting the use of the word “religion” to refer to God or gods or

“structure” and is essentially external or worldly, while spirituality is

defining it, as Catalfo says, as “the organizational structure we

not structured or organized and is, instead, internal.

give to our individual and collective spiritual processes” is too limiting, too narrow.

While I have a great deal of sympathy for these ideas, I don’t see the question quite so neatly. To look at it in a different way, let’s

In a way, the question becomes a semantic one, depending

consider the word “religion.”

on how one defines what a religion is. Some yoga groups are quite structured with hierarchies and distinct rules and dogma. Some

Webster’s Dictionary online defines “religion” as the belief in a god

religions are very loose with no requisite belief structure or

or in a group of gods; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies,

theism.

and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods; an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

If we rely more on the third definition—an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group—then we

Couldn’t these definitions apply to yoga as well? Patanjali’s Yoga

could very well speak of yoga as a religion. Along this line,

Sutras speak of Ishwara/God in numerous places, and in the

Einstein said, “Try and penetrate within our limited means the

Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, who is the manifestation of God, speaks to

secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible

Arjuna about dharma, samnyas, karma, or the means to worship

laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible,

God. Thus, two of the essential texts or scriptures of yoga could

and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that

correspond to the first two definitions of religion, respectively. The

we can comprehend is my religion.”

third definition would probably be relevant to everyone reading this and, I hope to show shortly, provides a clue for penetrating to

Not surprisingly, the Dalai Lama is more succinct. “My religion is

the heart of our question.

simple,” he said. “My religion is kindness.”

While the definitions offer us a starting point in exploring the

Me, I’m one of the shoulder shruggers. “Is yoga a religion?” No. No

relationship between religion and yoga or the distinction between

church, temple, synagogue. “Is yoga a religion?” Yes. Through yoga,

religion and spirituality, delving into the etymology of the word

when I’m lucky, I feel the unity, the oneness of everything. So I guess,

“religion” is more revealing.

in the sense of Einstein and the Dalai Lama, yoga is my religion.

Oxford’s Dictionary online says that “religion” derives from the

John Schumacher is certified at the Advanced Junior I level and lives in

Latin religio, which means “obligation, bond, or reverence” and is,

Bethesda, Maryland.

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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G E E TA’ S I N T EN SI VE: TH REE P ER SP EC T I VES

Atha Yoganusasanam: Now Begins the Practice of Yoga BY JENNIE WILLIFORD More than 1,300 attendees from 57 different countries came

Pranayama began on day four. Geeta continued her emphasis on

together in Pune to share in the gift of yoga and the gift of

the need to develop full sensitivity and awareness from the

Guruji himself at Yoganusasanam, Geeta’s 10-day intensive in

gross to the subtle, “from the soul to the skin and the skin to

December. During these 10 days, Guruji’s presence was palpable

the soul.” She was adamant that without the external practices

and his light shone through Geeta and onto us, giving us all the

of yama, niyama, and asana, you cannot “willy nilly” just sit for

opportunity to rejoice in and mourn for him together. Story

the more sensitive practices of pranayama, pratyahara, dharana,

after story of Guruji’s experiments and experience through

and dhyana. Without awareness, the mind will always be getting

yoga set the tone for the intensive and teachings. Geeta guided

the better of us, so we spent a lot of time in experimentation

us toward an approach to practice that squeezes the essence

with pranayama practice as well. She taught us to practice with

out of the eight limbs of yoga and of life. Guruji’s dedication to

eyes closed and open to change our alertness and gave us

the subject of yoga exemplified the yamas and niyamas in

numerous ways to self-adjust our Jalandhara Bandha for better

action. With discipline and surrender to God, truthfulness, and

comfort and ease of breath.

self knowledge, Guruji lived and died in the practice of yoga. Geeta encouraged us to do the same.

On day seven, all the kids from RIMYI came out to play, introducing a whole new mood to the intensive. Whereas Geeta

The idea of keeping a “beginner’s mind” and developing

had seemed tentative on day one, by day two she was charged

sensitivity in practice was ever present. Geeta led us through

up and excited to be teaching. But on day seven, she became a

the experience of familiar asanas from differing approaches. We

kid again. Geeta always encourages us as teachers to put

did Utthita Trikonasana moving first from the thigh, the hip, or

ourselves into students’ bodies, and she brought this advice to

the trunk, and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, keeping the heel down

life as she taught those kids. She glowed with the spirit of a

or twisting the trunk first. She emphasized the foundations and

child, encouraged them and lifted them up, reminding us all

reasoning for each category of asana, particularly the

that playfulness also lies within the path and practice of yoga.

inversions, and reminded us that Guruji used a relentless and playful experimentation on the physical plane, “juicing” the

Playfulness and profundity: That is the way of yoga. On day

essence out of every pose to more clearly access the deeper

eight, Geeta gave a long, in-depth discourse on the essence of

planes within. Sitting for pranayama was the target for most of

pranayama, putting the “intense” into the intensive. Her message

the teaching of asana.

was that “embodied asana awakens the universal energy within,

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Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


GEETA’S INTENSIVE: THREE PERSPECTIVES

but pranayama is needed to balance it.” Alignment in asana is

The afternoons of the intensive were full of other amazing events:

not just for the sake of physical health, but it increases our

Abhijata and Birjoo Mehta told moving stories of Guruji’s passing;

mental sensitivity and awareness and clears energetic blocks

we met representatives from the newest members of our Iyengar

where our prana may not be free to run. Without this, we will

Yoga world; we learned of ancient yogini cults; we were uplifted by

falter on our path to samadhi. Listening to the recording of this

Indian classical dance and music; and we were gifted with

session will be an essential guide to any practice.

numerous films and photos of Guruji.

Along with her teaching of the essence of pranayama, Geeta

Abhi left us by saying, “Where there is yoga, there is Guruji,”

instructed us about the invocation to Patanjali. She referred to

and it is evident that the sparks he and Geeta have lit within us

it as a “darsana,” a direct vision, of Patanjali. As we remember

will shine brightly on.

him and visualize his form, we must sit with absolute alertness and use Anjali Mudra to invite Patanjali and his wisdom directly

So now, the practice of yoga begins…

into the seat of our soul. Almost pleadingly, she requested that we not allow the invocation to become rote or ritual but to

Jennie Williford (Intermediate Junior I) is currently transitioning out of

experience it fully to delve into the very heart of yoga.

Rockford, Illinois, where she ran Pranayama Yoga Studio. This was her third trip to Pune, and she was ecstatic that the timing for it was just right.

Reflections on Our Belated First Trip to Study in India BY DAVID CARPENTER Although my wife and I have been regular Iyengar Yoga

practitioners of less than 10 years, it seemed like we could

practitioners for 15 years, we had never studied in India. The

handle it, although we still had some trepidation.

nominal reason was that the demands of my career precluded an extended stay at the Institute, although the truth is that we

We are so thankful that we overcame our fears and made this

were also a little intimated by the prospect of studying there.

trip. It was transformative to experience 10 consecutive days of

But when Geeta announced her intensive last summer, we

Geeta’s remarkable and heroic teaching and to commune with

signed up immediately. I had just retired, so the excuse of my

1,200 other Iyengar Yoga practitioners from around the world.

job was gone. And because the intensive was geared to

And it was poignant to do so in the aftermath of Guruji’s death.

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

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G E E TA’ S I NT EN SIVE: TH REE P ER SP EC T I VES

Before the event, I had heard that Geeta was not in good health.

Geeta’s profound teachings were not limited to technical

Still, I was amazed and inspired when I saw her hobble into the

aspects of yoga. For example, on day eight, she surprised us (or

convention hall and struggle to climb onto the stage the first

me anyway) by taking a 90-minute session that had been

day of the convention. In her opening remarks, she said that

scheduled for asana and devoting it to impromptu remarks on

she is “not well,” that her “energy is low,” that she had

pranayama. Most of this was over my head. But I was fascinated

considered canceling the intensive, but that Guruji had “put the

by her explanation of why asana and pranayama are not

willpower in [her]” to go ahead, and that she would “try [her]

separate. She said that, in asana, each subsidiary action and

level best” to do justice to Guruji’s teaching.

each position of each appendage generates pranic energy that flows in a particular way, and such seemingly minor matters as

She certainly did that. The intensive was in a stadium the size

how weight is distributed on a particular toe can cause energy

of several football fields. But she exuded a glow that filled and

imbalances. She said that is why there are such detailed

commanded the entire hall, and I felt like she was speaking to

instructions in asanas and why the more one does an asana, the

me directly. She motivated me in ways I have seldom

more parts of the body are involved. She then went on to

experienced and led me deeper and deeper into my body, my

explain that the same is true in pranayama. There are different

mind, and my fears. Before the intensive was over, she had me

pranas in each organ, bandha, and appendage in the body, and

doing things that I had long ago convinced myself were

practitioners should know how to relate inhalations,

impossible for my short muscles and calcified joints.

exhalations, and retentions to all the body’s different pranas. But she said that most practitioners find pranayama boring and

From the outset of the intensive, Geeta made it clear that her

do not have the patience for penetrating these mysteries. She

focus would ultimately be on pranayama. To do that, of course,

even joked that she was using the intensive to express these

required that she begin with asana, and the major theme of the

views because if she scheduled a lecture on this subject,

first few days was opening up the armpit chest and dorsal

nobody would show up.

spine. And open them up she did. After countless Urdva Hastasana and Baddhangullyasanas and fervent commands that

Part of the thrill of the intensive was that after hearing about

we move our arms behind our heads, I actually did that. She

the Institute for the past 15 years, my wife and I went there

then wanted our heads on the ground in Adho Mukha

several times during our stay. It was like walking on hallowed

Svanasana, and I did that too. And before the intensive was over,

ground. The practice rooms and the fabled library are much

my newly awakened dorsal spine was holding my chest up in

smaller and more intimate that I had imagined them, but the

seated pranayama, with the sensation that my chest was

Institute itself is far grander.

pointing at the ceiling. These were all huge breakthroughs. During the intensive, I told John Schumacher that I had never

Having broken through our fears, my wife and I have now

had my shoulders worked like that, and he said that no one

signed up to study at the Institute in October 2016.

else had either. So I was not alone. David Carpenter has been a student of Iyengar Yoga for 15 years and now serves as the treasurer for IYNAUS.

David Carpenter and his wife, Orit, in the badminton stadium during the Yoganusasanam intensive in Pune, Dec. 1–10, 2014. Photo: Laurie Blakeney

32

David Carpenter and his wife, Orit, meet with Geetaji during the Yoganusasanam intensive in Pune, Dec. 1–10, 2014. Photo: Kelly Soblanski

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Yoganusasanam BY MELISSA LORRAINE HAGEN

Geeta seated at the 2014 Yoganusasanam intensive Photo: Nancy Baldon

After more than two days of half-sleeping in airports and on

Abhijata impressed us all

planes, the taxi ride from Mumbai to Pune was like a dream:

with wonderful metaphors

the speed at which we drove, racing tiny rickshaws, familiar

and storytelling. Her first

plants that I recognized from home—esperanza,

lecture was on the

bougainvillea—but massive because they never have to face a

speciality of the Iyengar

freeze. Everything looked slightly different: the tall brown and

system. She explained that

grey stained buildings, laundry strung out on lines, the English

yoga is the individual consciousness merging with the universal

advertisements for cleaner living in fancy condominiums, the

consciousness. She told many stories of Guruji, including one

lack of sidewalks. I had never imagined I would have the

where he had slipped and fell in the library during monsoon

opportunity to come to Pune so soon!

season and hurt his knee. He didn’t say that it hurt, but she could see it in his Virasana and in his eyes when he practiced.

In January 2014, I had decided to go up for my first assessment.

She told him to take a day off from medical classes and to rest,

It was scheduled for September, but last summer, Geeta

but he insisted on going. He said, “Yes, my knee has a pain, but I

announced her Yoganusasanam intensive. When I casually

am fine!” This story came into my mind many times during the

expressed that I wished I could go, my mentor, Peggy Kelley,

following week as I was doing my best to take care of a

lifted her chin slightly and said that I should. It seemed

recovering injury in my thoracic spine that mostly didn’t hurt

impossible to me at first; my part-time job barely covered the

but always felt tight and induced anxiety when I thought about

cost of my teacher training and the extra classes I was taking.

having to do Sirsasana without ropes or chairs. On Day 5, we did

But Peggy said we could do some fundraising, so I submitted a

a lot of Eka Pada Sirsasana work, and from the very first one,

hopeful request to IYASCUS for a scholarship. (Thank you,

there was a lingering dull pain beneath my right shoulder

South Central association!)

blade. After these, I did take full Sirsasana without much problem, but it was already too late. I was fearful that I had

For me, the theme of this entire trip was community. I couldn’t

reinjured my back. I felt lucky to be able to ask a few senior

have gone without the support of my teachers and students,

teachers for advice: Should I avoid deep backbends? Is Sirsasana

and once I arrived, I was immersed. Each morning, the

harmful?

gymnasium slowly filled with people, laying down mats, taking photos, and making friends. I was thrilled to be among my

Laurie Blakeney told me that when someone experienced pain,

tribe! Austin has a relatively small Iyengar Yoga community,

Guruji would say to give it a few hours to settle and not to

and it was lovely to share ideas and stories and talk endlessly

worry too much right away. She also reminded me that when

about my passion with people who feel the same way, have

we have had an injury for a long time, it can be more helpful to

read the books, and have put in the practice. Some who even

work the areas around the injury instead of the injured place

met the man himself. To many, he was real. He was flesh and

itself. The biggest lesson, though, was to not be so attached to

bone, fire and fury, on and off the mat. Many had made the

the pain I was experiencing. I came to realize that my injury is

journey to Pune before I was born and were now sharing

a strength—a teacher—and not simply a weakness that

treasured memories of his grace and gratitude.

prevents me from standing on my head for five minutes at a time. I have to be sensitive and aware enough to protect myself,

The asana classes were, of course, brilliant. We worked

while not beginning every practice with only the memories of

primarily from the Introductory syllabus, and each day after

yesterday’s asanas. I was able to adjust my spine in Parivrtta

lunch, we assembled for presentations. What an honor to see

Janu Sirsasana and a long Paschimottanasana the next day, and I

Geeta in action, explaining with clarity what is required in even

didn’t have too much trouble for the rest of the intensive. Upon

the simplest of asanas: skin of the back moves toward the front,

returning home, I began doing Sirsasana again, this time

skin of the front lifts, eardrums soften and recede, shoulders

counting to 60 in my head, and coming down gently without pain.

down away from the ears—then drawing our awareness inside in preparation for the invocation. Her eagle eye could spot a

My first trip to India was more amazing than I can possibly find

misalignment from across the room, and we held poses while

words for. I returned home full of gratitude for my path and for

she directed the nearest volunteer in how to help, sometimes

my community, and excited to take on Introductory II this fall!

calling the person on stage so we could all learn from them. I asked one of the tight hipped French men what it was like to be

Melissa Lorraine Hagen has studied Iyengar Yoga in Austin, Texas, for

up there. He said it was terrifying, and her voice was stern, but

over four years and will take her Introductory II assessment in the fall.

he could see a little twinkle in her smiling eyes. Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

33


Light on Life book signing, Booksmith, Boston. Photo: Todd Semo ©2005

IN MEMORY OF JUDI ANN RICE 1946–2014 BY ALEX CLEVELAND Judi Rice in Krounchasana

Judi Ann Rice, beloved Iyengar Yoga teacher from the southeast

upon those for personal inspiration

region, passed away on Dec.12, 2014. She enjoyed telling people

and direction. Judi was insightful,

she was from “Pewee Valley,” a quaintly unique “southern” town

honest, and direct. She saw

outside metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky. Judi’s integrity and

greatness in others, and reflected

professional dedication was tempered with a quick humor and

upon the “flaws” in others as opportunities to learn, recognizing

delight in friends and students. Simultaneously courageous and

that any of us might be that person in another circumstance.

vulnerable, she valued all the challenges life could offer.

She looked deeply into life and all it offered. As she moved through multiple myeloma, she found time to gather together

A dedicated student of the Iyengars and Patricia Walden,

longtime students, now teachers, to share her props,

Judi skillfully shared the teachings of Iyengar Yoga with

photographs of the Iyengars, and her vast yoga library. She was

many students locally in Kentucky, around the country, and

especially happy to share her books, knowing that others would

in regular retreats here and in Mexico. Judi had a discerning

have years to draw comfort, peace, and understanding from

eye and easily helped students move deeper in their practice

sources that had served her well.

and understanding.

She poured herself out to her students in teachings that were clear, beautiful, and transformative.

Judi drew great strength from her faith. Before her diagnosis, she had prayed to be an instrument, a servant for God. She was thankful for all she had—family, the path of yoga, being able to travel to India annually for many years, as well as the experience of other cultures and countries. She was very grateful and prayed for God to use her life in whatever way was

In fall 2014, Judi told a handful of longtime students she was

meant to be. Her years receiving medical treatments were times

making her final arrangements and planning a Feast of

of prayer and reflection. She worked with scripture, sutras, and

Gratitude. There would be no eulogies or formal speeches but,

poems during the long sessions of treatment. Judi did not wish

instead, a celebration. On Jan. 4, 2015, more than 300 people

to struggle or fight against death but asked instead for inner

came to her Gratitude Feast—people she loved, friends, family,

guidance. She did not wish to go, did not want to fight, but

students. The gathering opened with the song “Let Us Gather by

asked to stay as long as she was meant to and no longer. She

the River” and closed with “Amazing Grace.” Thoughts and

wished for direction in her course of action. Sometimes this

remembrances left by Judi were shared as two huge banquets

was not as her doctor would have advised, but he grew to

were enjoyed: one of vegetarian Asian fusion food, the other

appreciate and respect her sense of what needed to be done or

southern comfort food, with delicious fruit tarts for dessert.

needed to be avoided.

Judi wanted there to be plenty of food and small group tables for people to meet, laugh, cry, and reminisce. A beautiful

After the first round of treatments and a period of not

gathering, the Feast of Gratitude was a lovely and meaningful

instructing, she returned to teach a weekly intermediate yoga

reflection of Judi.

class. The class could last for hours; there was no fixed end. She poured herself out to her students in teachings that were

Judi’s practice was inspiring to many. She described herself as

clear, beautiful, and transformative. We marveled among

“relentless” in her teaching, which challenged us, but we knew

ourselves at how beautiful she looked, though much thinner

that what she asked of us was nothing more than what she

and with a scarf covering her head. She continued to draw

asked of herself. Her intensity was quickly experienced, and

upon an inner wellspring of vitality. Judi often recalled an

many recognized the underlying compassion of that

interview that Prashantji had given her. She had asked, “What

commitment. She often reminded us of Geetaji’s comment that

role does ‘grace’ have in yoga?” He replied, “It is all grace.”

“Too much of a good thing is still too much.” The work Judi did in her life for the local community and for the greater yoga

That was true for Judi; she was all grace.

community was always guided by “How is this helpful?” and “Who does it serve?”

Alex Cleveland (Introductory II) teaches at Yoga at Crescent Hill in Louisville, Kentucky, and co-chairs the membership and regional

Guruji’s integrity and clarity spoke deeply to Judi, and she drew 34

support committees on the IYNAUS board. Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Lighting

U.S. IYENGAR YOGA COMMUNITY CELEBRATES GLORIA GOLDBERG

the Way

GATHERED BY RICHARD JONAS Senior teacher Gloria Goldberg received IYNAUS’s sixth Lighting

was director of the

the Way award honoring distinguished volunteer service to the

Iyengar Yoga Institute

U.S. Iyengar Yoga community Sept. 27 in Los Angeles at the

of Los Angeles from

30th anniversary celebration of the Iyengar Yoga Institute

1990–1993 when she

of Los Angeles.

moved to La Mesa, where she is director

Members of the Iyengar family, teachers, and students

of the B.K.S. Iyengar

reminisce about Gloria’s long record of volunteer service:

Yoga Center of La Mesa. She was very

“Congratulations, Gloria! You deserve it as you have worked so

involved in the

hard for the U.S. Iyengar Yoga community.”

Pasadena convention

—Sunita Iyengar Parthasarathy

in 2001, Guruji’s visit to Estes Park in 2005,

Gloria Goldberg

“As the old saying goes, ‘If you need something done, ask a busy

the 2010 Portland

person to do it.’ Clearly they were talking about Gloria Goldberg.

convention, and the

Over the years, I have witnessed Gloria come to the forefront of

2013 San Diego convention featuring Birjoo Mehta.

our community. Giving of herself over and over, and taking little credit, she has founded and helped to found several Iyengar

“Her commitment to the teaching and upbringing of new

Yoga studios. She has chaired two national conventions, as well

teachers is unparalleled! Her service as the director of the

as assisted in the planning of nearly every local and national

teacher training program in Southern California underscores

convention and conference. She spearheaded the establishment

her commitment to bringing up the highest quality teachers.

of the service mark that protects Guruji’s name and works—all

Now she’s breaking new ground and training a whole new

the while raising a son by herself and teaching, tutoring, and

population of teachers in China. I’ve been blessed to study

mentoring thousands of students worldwide. Gloria started and

under her expert stewardship. Her dedication to Guruji and his

continues to nourish teacher training programs in our country,

work is inspiring and infectious.”

Europe, and Asia. We all owe a great deal to Gloria Goldberg for

—Garth McLean

her selfless service.” —Manouso Manos

“What I admire and appreciate most about Gloria is her devotion to Guruji and to disseminating Iyengar Yoga in this

“I worked with Gloria on the IYNAUS Board during my two

country and around the world. Her teaching is pure Iyengar

years as president. Gloria found the Las Vegas location for that

Yoga: I always feel connected to the Iyengars and Pune during

convention, and with a very short lead time, brought everything

her classes. She sets high standards for herself in her practice,

together to have Geetaji teach. Gloria had one gear: fast

and her teaching inspires and energizes us to reach for those

forward! Having her on the board was such an advantage

standards ourselves—even though we don’t always get there!

because of the historical perspective she brought. She is knowledgeable about the evolution of IYNAUS from its

“Gloria is a powerhouse of energy. Recently, we secretly planned

inception. She showed her fierce loyalty to Guruji at every turn.

a celebration for her 70th birthday, but no one could believe she had reached that age, and we checked with more than one

“When I plugged back in as a member of the New England

source to make sure we weren’t committing a faux pas. Now we

group that spearheaded the first regional conference. Gloria’s

have to believe it, although her activity level is that of someone

energy kept me going. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Gloria is

very much younger.”

the essence of the Energizer Bunny. There is no end to her drive

—Jenny Hartman

to do the needful.” —Linda Di Carlo

“Gloria worked with other local teachers in the mid-90s to create a teacher training program in San Diego. She has

“Gloria is extremely involved in making things happen! As long

ongoing teacher training classes, weeklong workshops, yoga

as I can remember, she has served on the IYNAUS Board. She

therapy, and philosophy classes. She maintains a level of

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

35


instruction that I find most similar to

“Her first contact with Guruji was

the teachings of the Iyengar family—

in 1988 when she left her two-

and all while traveling to China,

year-old son at home to go to India

Russia, Denmark, San Francisco,

for an intensive.

and wherever Guruji sent her to provide teacher training. She is a

“She always refers to Guruji and

valuable asset to our community,

Geetaji when she teaches, always

beloved by students.”

quotes them, and explains that this

—Sharon Maruca

is the way they teach. She makes sure she brings the essence of their

“Gloria started yoga because she had asthma and was sick most of her early life. During college she looked

teaching into her classes. Manouso Manos and Gloria Goldberg at the Lighting the Way award celebration in September 2014.

into alternative ways of living. She

“Gloria is gone a lot of the year. She travels the world teaching yoga, and

found a book on nutrition and started doing Hittleman’s 28-day

she’s so humble about it. She lives very modestly. She’s so

yoga plan, learning what felt right and what didn’t, making

approachable; she always makes herself available to her

adjustments. ‘I didn’t know anything,’ she told me, ‘but my

students.”

body, my cells knew something.’ Her first Iyengar Yoga teacher

—Chere Thomas

was Jenny Smith Lemon; she also studied with Ariane Hudson and Mary Dunn. Gloria has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in

Richard Jonas (Introductory II) is a faculty member at the Iyengar Yoga

social ecology and ended up teaching yoga by default. She has

Institutes of New York and Brooklyn. He began a “life sketch” of B.K.S.

lived in San Diego and Los Angeles, and studied and taught

Iyengar with Guruji’s participation in February 2014; it became the

yoga in both cities.

basis of the obituary for Guruji, which ran in our last issue.

36

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Lifelong

Practice

BEN AND TOMMIJEAN THOMAS BY JOSEPHINE LAZARUS

On March 23, 2014, I had the good fortune to spend most of the day with Ben and Tommijean Thomas at their home in Oro Valley, Arizona. Ben is 76 and Tommijean is 73. They generously shared their thoughts on yoga, teaching, and aging. We had a lot of laughs and some tears. Josie Lazarus: What are your

best effort? Do I back away or

physical challenges in teaching as

confront the issue? Every day is a

you age?

balance of what to do. The mind and ego must examine the self-image. Age

Tommijean Thomas: I’ve taught

and maturity have helped me come to

mostly private lessons since the

understand my nature.

age of 68. I used to teach very large classes, which included students

JL: What are the issues your aging

who may not have been aware of

students face? Has your student

how to follow the principles. One

population aged along with you?

has to maintain control, i.e., no talking, giving 100 percent attention—and to attend.

Tommijean and Ben Thomas in the courtyard garden of their home in Oro Valley, Arizona. Photo: Alfio Procopio

BT: I understand the concept of divinity within (Sutra I.3) better, and

therefore, it is more teachable. Similarly the concept of Ben Thomas: How you demonstrate only on one side then walk

contentment, regardless of life’s challenges. It’s important for

around is not good for the body. I am more conscious of myself

my students to come to their own understanding. Students give

and my joints as I practice and teach. For example, I don’t

me their joy of personal evolution.

demonstrate Pincha Mayurasana anymore. I am not able to demonstrate as much due to my own issues.

JL: What are the spiritual changes that you have noticed in yourselves and your students?

As I age, I have to be aware that the ego doesn’t get in the way. Balance is more of an issue in many asanas, such as Vrksasana.

BT: As a rule, young people don’t care as much about knowledge

Now I use a wall. It’s good for students to see how their teacher

or the relevance of change. My life perspective has changed; I am

is aging. They are like us, and it is helpful for the student to

more at ease with life. Pride is a factor, seeing the changes as a

observe how we handle what we go through over time.

blessing rather than focusing on I what can’t do.

JL: What are your physical challenges in your own practice as

I have more compassion and contentment. Yogis have the

you age?

opportunity to enter into contentment with the mental perspective to counterbalance the physical decline.

TJT: Guruji said to us, “It is not what you do, it is how you do.” The poses change. The practice has become more of an

TJT: My practice is more spiritual. I spend more time alone

internal, private practice. It is more self-focused. I find I do

focusing on devotion and prayer and surrendering myself. I

more writing. Yoga saved my life after having four children and

cannot imagine not having that time. I have lost the desire for

developing problems with my legs and bad circulation.

achievement, but I do experience those scared moments. I am indebted to B.K.S. Iyengar for this.

BT: I asked B.K.S. Iyengar at various stages, about every 10 years, “What is your practice at age 68?” He said, “How much

JL: What does retirement mean for you as a teacher?

more can I do?” Then 10 years later, he said, “How much can I maintain?” At age 85, he said, “Can I age gracefully? What is

BT: The opportunity to experience beauty in life and nature.

that? I have to have support on the stairs. The joints become a

The ability to contemplate youth versus maturity. To be part of

problem. I must evolve and adapt.”

the change to a new phase of life. There is less need to attract more students, but I’m grateful that I can teach and share. It is

I do more self talk: What can I do with full attention and my Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

a time to truly appreciate and resolve issues with life itself. 37


Yogis get to experience youth and vitality in their maturity

JL: How did you get to the practice of IyengarYoga?

unabated until the late 60s. BT: After one month, I could feel a change in the breath and Teachers do not retire in the traditional sense. We become

the rhythm. There was not much detail moving from beginning

different teachers; we accommodate but we do not stop

to intermediate to advanced asanas. Six months later, we got

teaching. Active retirement keeps us all healthy. When I retired

Light on Yoga and began to study. Tommijean had trained as a

from my career as an engineer and transitioned to teaching 20

dancer, and I had played baseball, which helped us focus. After

yoga classes a week, I did so for money.

three years, we went to the 1979 intensive in Pune at the Institute. It was our first meeting with Manouso Manos, Patricia

JL: Does having a full practice have a new meaning?

Walden, Kofi Busia, and Ramanand Patel. It was quite a culture shock to be in India and with such a class of students.

BT: Yes, a “full-spectrum practice” (abhysaha and sadana) has much more meaning. It comes with more knowledge about the

TJT: I could do all but five of poses in Light on Yoga and was

self and the practice, which are essential to care for and train

nicknamed “Showoff.” Mr. Iyengar called Ben “Strongman.”

the body, mind, breath, and intellect. The fullness of physical practice deals with seeing that the end is near. Deaths of

BT: I realized I was with a master teacher. When I was asked to

friends and family bring a new perspective on life and practice.

demo for the class, I realized I was being given a private lesson.

We are now down to 10 quality years before our mortality. Josephine Lazarus owns Archana Yoga in Gilbert, Arizona, has been JL: What started you on the path to yoga?

teaching Iyengar Yoga since 1984 and was certified at the Introductory II level in 1993. She has traveled to Pune six times to study at RIMYI and

TJT: I went to a yoga class to relax. I was caring for a family

continues to study with senior teachers in the U.S.

of 10. The yoga was for me. I was in a group class when Manju Jois came to California. I took classes six days a week, doing 100 postures a day. Ben came and watched and then joined right away. That was in January 1976.

38

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


IYNAUS

Store News

Check Out These New Resources The IYNAUS store was created to provide props, reference materials, and study aids to enhance the practice of Iyengar Yoga and raise funds to support our operations in the United States. The store focuses primarily on items produced in India that are not available from popular retail and e-commerce sources. Additional inventory items include books, audio CDs, and DVDs from senior teachers in the U.S.

YOGANUSASANAM RECORDINGS We’re pleased to offer video recordings from

FUNDAMENTALS OF PATANJALI’S PHILOSOPHY

Yoganusasanam, Geeta Iyengar’s December

by Prashant Iyengar

2014 intensive in Pune, India, in celebration

This text explains the kleshas and karma, and

of her 70th birthday. The beautifully boxed

how a true seeker of yoga sincerely aims at

set includes 35 discs.

“evolution of consciousness.”

Note: The recordings were formatted in India and will play in the disc drive of your computer; however, they will not play on most stand-alone DVD players.

ASHTANGA YOGA OF PATANJALI by Prashant Iyengar

GEETA ON PRANAYAMA

This book challenges the serious student to

This 12-disc set of video recordings offers

go beyond yoga as the physical practice of

pranayama instruction from Geeta’s

asana and pranayama to delve deeper into

December 2013 pranayama intensive.

understanding the philosophy and practices of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga.

YOGASANA: AN ADHYATMIK ACADEMY

A MANUAL ON HUMANICS

by Prashant Iyengar

Prashant Iyengar began writing this work in

Adhyatma is a concept in the timeless

1985. On his 65th birthday, this manuscript

ancient Hindu Vedic philosophy. It is loosely

is being made available to the student

understood as something spiritual, ethereal,

community in book form. It is a treasure

trans-mundane, and transcendent. The

trove for anyone interested in philosophy.

essential nature of Adhyatma is that there

“I saw a vast ocean before me. The subject of

must be no component in our action that is

yoga is an endless pursuit of knowledge.

by Prashant Iyengar

external to us. Prashant Iyengar explores this concept in depth

That is why I embarked upon this writing as a compendium of

in this text.

philosophy and religion,” Prashant says. Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews of one or more of Prashanji’s new books in the fall issue of Yoga Samachar.

Gulnaaz Dashti and Geeta at the 2014 Yoganusasanam intensive. Photo: Nancy Baldon Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

Brittany Klipper and Geeta at the 2014 Yoganusasanam intensive. Photo: Nancy Baldon 39


Report From

Bellur

WHAT’S NEW WITH THE BKSSN TRUST? BY MICHAEL LUCEY

Students from the high school and pre-university college provide a yoga demonstration for visitors. Photo: Michael Lucey

Toward the end of the Yoganusasanam intensive with Geeta

Trust included the construction of a yoga hall over the primary

Iyengar in Pune, the organizers held an auction for various

school in the village. That hall also serves as an additional

banners that had been on display around the room. All the

classroom and as a place for village social functions. The Trust

proceeds, we learned, would be donated to the Trust

also built a huge water storage tank to meet the needs of the

established by B.K.S. Iyengar to improve and enhance

village for clean drinking water.

conditions in and around his birthplace. On Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, two days after the end of the intensive, a group of

In the early years of the Trust, a hospital, a high school, offices,

participants from around the world made its way to Bellur,

and a guest house were built on its own nearby campus. The

Guruji’s native village, about an hour’s drive from the Bangalore

Trust runs the school and provides uniforms, books, materials,

Airport. We visited the village itself as well as the campus of

and a daily meal to the students enrolled there. Students come

the Bellur Krishnamachar & Seshamma Smaraka Niddhi

from Bellur itself as well as the surrounding region. More

(BKSSN) Trust, set up by Guruji in 2003.

recently, the campus has seen the addition of a pre-university college, where students who have finished high school can

Guruji’s first philanthropic project in Bellur dates to 1967, when

continue their studies. In May 2014, Guruji attended the

he built a primary school in the village. That school is now run

inauguration of a new technical vocational training and

by the Indian government. The 16-acre campus of the BKSSN

research center on the Trust’s lands.

Trust is a short distance from the village. Early activities of the 40

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Exterior view of the yoga hall under construction on the Bellur Trust campus Photo: Michael Lucey

Interior view of the yoga hall under construction on the Bellur Trust campus Photo: Michael Lucey

Construction projects currently underway include a large yoga

goals are to raise the general standard of living, provide clean

hall with accompanying accommodations and dining facilities.

drinking water, and help create awareness about the latest developments in agriculture. Its goals in the area of health have

The program arranged for those of us visiting on Dec. 12 began

been to improve public health and establish healthcare centers.

with a tour of the site of the new yoga hall, which will be big

Finally its cultural goals have been to promote the technical

enough for a group of 300 students to practice together. After

and artistic skills of rural people in the field of traditional

touring the site and hearing about various features in its

handicrafts and other cottage industries. It was wonderful to

design, we were taken to the village, where we attended pujas at

experience this vision in action and see the latest addition to

three temples, including the Patanjali temple, built in 2004 with

the project taking place: a yoga center that will bring more

the support of Guruji and his family, the Hanuman temple, and

visitors to the region, enhancing the economy and creating new

also the ancient Rama temple, which Guruji helped to restore.

forms of cultural exchange. I hope that many IYNAUS members will have the chance to visit the area and practice yoga in the

After our tour of the village, we returned to the Trust’s campus

new hall in the years ahead.

to attend a program prepared for us by the administrators of the Trust and the students and teachers of the high school and

I also want to thank all of the yoga centers, teachers, and

the pre-university college. At the beginning of the program, we

students across the United States who made time in late 2014

watched an interview with Guruji from May 2014 while he was

and early 2015 to hold fundraisers for the Bellur Trust. As I

visiting the campus. Then the students gave a truly remarkable

write, contributions are still coming in from across the country,

yoga demonstration as well as music and dance performances.

from Unity Woods Yoga Center in Washington, D.C., to Clear Yoga in Rhinebeck, New York, from the Southern California

After the school program, the staff of the technical training

Regional Association to the Ann Arbor community, from Rose

center demonstrated for us the prototype of a mini power tiller

Yoga Center in Ashland, Oregon, to Bija Yoga in San Francisco.

that they had developed. Useful for small farmers, this

Many individuals have made contributions both large and

prototype was made at a cost of Rs.17,000 (approximately $273),

small as well. Every contribution helps us sustain a connection

whereas imported models cost Rs. 100,000 (approximately $1,605).

with Guruji’s vision for uplifting the place of his birth. We hope to encourage a strong yearly tradition of benefit classes and

The program concluded with a lunch provided for us by our

workshops for Bellur around the time of Guruji’s birthday, so

attentive and generous hosts.

that IYNAUS and its members continue participating in this remarkable project as it goes on unfolding.

The BKSSN Trust has an ambitious set of aims for Bellur and the surrounding region. In the area of education, its aims have

Michael Lucey is president of IYNAUS and a professor at UC Berkeley.

been to improve existing schools and build new ones, creating

He teaches yoga at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco and

better prospects for the young people of the region. Its social

around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

41


treasurer’s

Report—IYNAUS Finances

ONGOING IYNAUS FINANCIAL NEWS BY DAVID CARPENTER Since last fall’s Yoga Samachar was devoted to commemorating

IYNAUS’ operations. Instead, we determined that our goal

Guruji’s life, I will provide two issues’ worth of information:

should be that—exclusive of events—our annual revenues

IYNAUS’ 2014 financial results, our current balance sheet, some

equal or exceed our expenses. We met this financial goal in

of the financial issues now before the IYNAUS Board of

2013. We came very close to doing so again in 2014 but did not

Directors, and questions that have been raised about planned

because of an extraordinary occurrence that was an unpleasant

gifts to IYNAUS.

reminder that IYNAUS is affected by events outside our control.

2014 Financial Results

The following table shows IYNAUS’ cash revenues and

Several years ago, the board of directors concluded that

expenses in 2014 as well as in the three prior years. For ease of

IYNAUS should end its historic practice of relying on profits

comparison, I have moved all event revenues and expenses to

from our triennial conventions and other events to subsidize

the year in which each event occurred.

IYNAUS PROFIT AND LOSS STATEMENT REVENUES

2011

2012

2013

2014

Dues (less regions’ shares)

72,650

84,920

74,360

89,368

Event revenues (including receivables)

35,366

-24,000

48,968

Store revenues less cost of goods (store sales at events are in parenthesis)

69,522 (3,389)

58,443 (6,053)

82,062 (7,565)

60,142

Charitable contributions to IYNAUS

4,750

1,720

1,550

3,703

Yoga Samachar advertising revenue

0

0

4,000

2,604

16,580

16,785

16,743

17,768

Unrestricted Revenue

Restricted Revenue Certification mark (less payments to India) Charitable contributions to archives

8,621

Earmarked Revenue Assessment fees and manual

47,985

46,850

63,784

84,955

Bellur donations

7,658

4,290

26,717

20,811

TOTAL REVENUES

254,511

189,008

318,184

$287,972.00

Bellur donations

7,658

4,290

26,717

20,811

Salaries and employment taxes

76,807

64,531

69,817

70,412

22,012

25,516

24,242

Assessment expenses

52,470

54,559

63,818

Legal fees

13,919

17,631

0

Website design and maintenance

29,002

25,929

21,082

21,995

IYNAUS board meeting travel expenses

12,035

10,532

12,413

14,906

Bookkeeping

5,475

4,853

1,550

995

Office supplies and expenses

6,004

5,981

11,499

16,899

Merchant and bank fees (for store)

22,565

15,429

17,696

32,498

Nonemployee insurance and taxes

5,612

2,434

3,896

2,512

TOTAL EXPENSES

253,559

231,685

252,730

$308,706.00

NET REVENUE

952

-42,677

65,454

-$20,734.00

NET REVENUE—Excluding convention/regional conferences and store sales made at these events

-37,803

-24,720

8,921

-$20,734.00

EXPENSES

PR consultant expenses Production expenses for Yoga Samachar

2,625

Yoga Journal advertising

42

29,413 10,000 85,640

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Although we had a $20,734 cash operating deficit in 2014, we

additional member, the vast majority of the increased dues

would have had positive cash revenues of about $17,000 if it

revenues can be used to improve and enhance IYNAUS’

had not been for one unanticipated occurrence. As many of you

programs. We hope that we can add even more new members

know, the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York

in 2015.

(IYAGNY) is not merely a regional membership association but also owns and operates Iyengar Yoga institutes in Manhattan

Third, we had strong results in 2014 despite the fact that our

and Brooklyn. Last year, IYAGNY was unexpectedly required to

store revenues were over $20,000 less than in 2013. This decline

move its Manhattan studio. This obliged the New York regional

was expected because 2013 store sales were higher than normal

association to make large capital expenditures in 2014 and to

because of the demand for Geeta S. Iyengar’s Yoga in Action:

incur debts that they inform us cannot be fully paid off until

Intermediate Course-I. Since the initial demand for this book was

the end of 2016. Consequently, IYAGNY had cash flow problems

met, store sales in 2014 returned to normal levels for

that were severe in 2014 and that will continue to be significant

nonconvention years. As noted below, we are making additional

in 2015 and 2016. One result of the situation was that IYAGNY

investments in the store and hope this will lead to increased

did not remit to us $37,030 of the dues it had collected on

store revenues in 2015 and future years.

behalf of IYNAUS during 2014. As of this writing, IYAGNY is engaged in a good faith effort to work out a clear payment plan,

Finally, it is noteworthy that despite last year’s decline in store

which we hope to have in place by the end of the second

sales, there was a $15,000 increase (from $17,696 to $32,498) in

quarter of 2015. Our expectation is that we will then sign an

the merchant bank fees that we incur when we process credit

agreement with IYAGNY to resolve the outstanding dues

card transactions. We incur these fees not just for store

payment. IYAGNY resumed making current dues payments in

purchases but also when we process credit card transactions

December 2015, and it has assured us that it intends to

for assessment fees, dues, donations to Bellur, donations to

continue to do so. In all events, our 2014 cash revenues were

IYNAUS, event tuition, or any other purpose. In addition to the

$37,030 lower than they should have been by virtue of these

substantial store sales and the increases in donations and

unanticipated occurrences.

membership, 2014 was a year in which the number of assessments increased (from 194 in 2013 to 294 in 2014) and in

Our 2014 performance was positive in virtually all other

which we collected tuition for the approximately 250 Americans

respects. First, in addition to contributions that we pass through

who attended Geetaji’s intensive in Pune in December. So the

to the Bellur Trust, the charitable contributions made to

increased merchant fees are indicative of IYNAUS’ increased

IYNAUS itself increased to $12,000 in 2014, with $8,621 of the

level of economic activity in 2014.

donations restricted to the archives project and $3,703 in unrestricted donations. These monies gave the board significant

IYNAUS’ Balance Sheet

latitude to enhance existing programs and to pursue new

A balance sheet is a snapshot of an organization’s assets,

initiatives. We thank all of you who have made donations to

liabilities, and net worth at a particular moment in time. My

IYNAUS, and hope that IYNAUS will continue to receive annual

practice has been to publish our balance sheet, as of Oct. 31, in

charitable donations from those of you who have the ability to

each fall’s issue of Yoga Samachar. I do that because October is

make them. As I explain below, planned gifts can also be made

the time of year when our cash position is often weakest

to IYNAUS.

(because we receive most of our dues revenue in December and January), and our balance sheet as of October has provided a

Second, even without the $37,030 from New York, our total dues

conservative picture of our finances. To allow “apples to apples”

revenues increased in 2014. Some of the increase is due to

comparisons with prior years, the following table shows

matters of timing, but a major portion is attributable to the

IYNAUS’ balance sheet as of October 2012, October 2013, and

growth in IYNAUS’ membership: We had 453 more dues-paying

October 2014 (with the $37,030 in unpaid dues from IYAGNY

members last year than in 2013. This increase resulted from the

shown as a receivable):

successful membership drives that several of the regions held last year. While IYNAUS incurs some additional costs with each

RIMYI archives


IYNAUS BALANCE SHEET Oct. 2012

Oct. 2013

Oct. 2014

73,484

105,485

155,177

CURRENT ASSETS Unrestricted Assets IYNAUS bank accounts and cash equivalents Accounts Receivable Unpaid 2014 dues from NY region

37,030

San Diego conference/convention loan

18,750

0

0

IYASE loan on Maitri Conference loss

6,000

6,000

3,000

Store accounts receivable

2,456

2,061

3,852

IYNAUS store inventory

83,272

79,219

95,046

Prepaid expenses

2,414

864

669

Computers and equipment

5,585

3,452

3,452

Certification mark bank accounts

70,041

84,915

83,394

TOTAL ASSETS

262,002

281,996

$385,360

1,634

2,110

1,837

Restricted Assets IYNAUS archives bank account

3,740

CURRENT LIABILITIES Accounts payable Prepaid 2015 assessment fees

3,300

Long-term notes (international archives)

9,250

9,250

9,250

TOTAL LIABILITIES

10,844

11,360

$14,387

TOTAL EXPENSES

299,566

253,559

231,685

EQUITY (NET WORTH)

251,158

270,636

$370,973

TOTAL CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS

143,525

190,400

$242,321

UNRESTRICTED CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS

73,484

105,485

$155,117

As this table shows, our financial position has improved

An organization like ours needs to have substantial cash

steadily over the past three years. Our equity or net worth—

reserves. It gives us the financial strength to put on events such

that is, the difference between our assets and our liabilities—is

as the forthcoming convention in Boca Raton in May 2016

$100,000 higher than it was a year ago, and if we ignore the

(which require substantial upfront payments to hotels and

$37,030 IYAGNY receivable, our net worth in October 2014 is

others), to launch new initiatives, to take calculated risks, and

still some $63,000 greater than in October 2012. But as

to withstand unanticipated events (such as the unpaid dues

treasurer, my focus is always on our cash position. I primarily

from IYAGNY in 2014). As treasurer, I rest better at night

focus on the unrestricted cash that is held in IYNAUS accounts

knowing that our cash is nearly equal to six months’ expenses.

and is available to us for any purpose. It increased from

That said, with the positive financial trends and growing

$105,000 in October 2013 to $155,000 in October 2014. In

strength of our balance sheet, the IYNAUS Board recently

addition, there is the separate certification mark account that

launched some new initiatives and will consider still others. At

is jointly controlled by IYNAUS and by Gloria Goldberg in her

the same time, to the extent that there is uncertainty relating

capacity as the U.S. attorney in fact for Prashant and Geeta

to IYAGNY (which represents about a third of our nonteacher

Iyengar. Moneys in this account are restricted because it can

members), that is a factor that will counsel caution.

only be used for programs to promote Iyengar Yoga and is not subject to IYNAUS’ exclusive control. We also have established

Current financial issues and challenges

a restricted account for the archives project. There was a total

In response to our improved financial position, the IYNAUS

of about $87,000 in these two restricted accounts in October

Board authorized some investments in 2014 that were designed

2014, so our total cash was then about $242,000—up about

to promote broader public awareness of Iyengar Yoga. We hired

$52,000 from the prior year. (The IYAGNY receivable is, of

a public relations consultant and a news agency (at the modest

course, irrelevant to our cash position).

cost of about $2,500); they assisted us with several issues during the year, including the aftermath of Guruji’s death. The

44

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


certification mark account also funded informational ads that

credentials required to chair the certification committee. While

appeared in five issues of Yoga Journal (at a cost of $10,000). We

we have a history of board members who have made financial

know that these ads were popular with some of our members

sacrifices in order to serve the community in this critical

and have been questioned by others. It is difficult to assess the

position, there are limits to the financial sacrifices that can be

impact of the Yoga Journal ads, but they were a definite step in

reasonably expected. If there are substantial increases in

the direction of increasing public awareness of Iyengar Yoga.

compensation for the certification committee chair, it will

The new chair of our public relations committee—Cynthia

obviously mean increased costs for the assessment system.

Bates—has formed a strong committee of public relations

Other factors are increasing these costs still further. For

professionals, and this committee is comprehensively assessing

example, with the growth in the number of assessments, the

our various initiatives and how best to invest the dollars that

certification committee has concluded that there are not

can now be prudently devoted to these initiatives.

enough assessors, and the committee is training large numbers of new assessors. So in addition to the travel expenses of

Our improved financial position also allowed investments to

assessors, we will now pay for large numbers of assessors-in-

enhance our store. We have hired a new employee whose sole

training to travel to attend and observe assessment. There are

responsiblity will be to manage the store and who will work

also certification-related website expenses.

20–25 hours a week initially, growing to full time if sales warrant. We are hopeful that having an employee devoted

In anticipation of all these increased costs, the assessment fee

exclusively to the store will lead to an increased focus on the

was increased from $310 in 2013 to $365 in 2014. In the next

items that we stock, to better marketing, and to increased sales

year, the IYNAUS Board will consider whether and how much to

and higher net revenues.

increase the compensation for the certification committee chair. Also because concerns have been expressed about the

The board will also be addressing financial issues relating to

costs that assessment candidates must incur, we will—before

our assessment system. Historically, all the assessors and

we set the assessment fees for 2016—consider whether we

members of the certification committee donated their time and

should modify our historic policy of striving to recover all the

the studios that hosted assessments did not charge rent, so the

costs of the assessment system from assessment candidates

costs of assessment were just the travel expense of assessors

and whether we should instead have some costs (e.g., the

and of the members of certification committee (who meet in

certification chair’s compensation) funded out of membership

person at least once annually). Assessment fees have been set

dues or other IYNAUS revenues.

at a level designed to recover all these costs, as it seemed fairest to have the costs of assessment covered by those who

Another issue that has major financial implications and that

use the assessment system in a given year. These fees have

will be addressed this year involves our website. We all

thus increased in lock step with increases in travel expenses.

understand that it needs to be upgraded technologically, and we all similarly understand that the content and presentation

Assessment costs are now increasing for other reasons as well.

of the content can be substantially improved. As with many

For example, with the growth in the number and levels of

matters before IYNAUS, the issue of how, when, and to what

assessments, the demands placed on the certification

extent changes can be made is one of cost and requires the

committee chair long ago increased to the point that the job is

exercise of due prudence in incurring them.

close to—or much more than—a full-time job for much of each year. To offset some of the resulting financial burden, the board

In all these regards, we will be closely monitoring IYAGNY’s

began providing modest compensation to the certification chair

situation as it relates not only to our ability to collect the

several years ago, with the compensation having averaged

$37,030 that was not paid in 2014 but also to other factors that

about $1,000 per month and having recently been formally set

could affect our future dues revenues. To the extent that we

at that level. In the past two years, however, the demands on

face greater uncertainty as a result of these events, it will

the chair have multiplied because the number of candidates

counsel greater financial conservatism.

nearly doubled—from 160 in 2012 to 294 in 2014—and because of other factors that increased the amount of time that the

Planned Gifts to IYNAUS

chair was required to spent on assessments. So the board is

In the past year, several of our members have asked if IYNAUS

concerned that the current level of compensation may now be

has a planned giving program: that is, a program designed to

both unconscionably low and insufficient to assure that there

enable or assist people who want to leave money to IYNAUS

will be a worthy replacement when Leslie Bradley’s term

through wills, trusts, or other estate-planning documents.

expires. We have to be mindful of the fact that there are relatively few teachers in our system with the experience and Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

45


We have thus far not had a formal program but will be

it is subject to restrictions, which mean, at least in the absence

establishing one. Let me emphasize that even in the absence of

of extraordinary conditions, that only the earnings or income

a formal program, people can now provide for gifts to IYNAUS

from the investment can be used to support the programs of

in their estate plans. Coincidentally, my wife and I redid our

the not-for-profit corporation and the underlying investment

estate plan in early 2014, and it contains a bequest to IYNAUS.

itself (that is, the principal) cannot be spent. IYNAUS does not

The gift made in my will is unrestricted: That is, it can be used

currently have an endowment, but we will consider

by the IYNAUS Board of Directors for any purpose, any time. For

establishing one, and we would do so immediately if we

this reason, a board of directors of a not-for-profit corporation

received notification that one of our members wished to make

will almost always prefer unrestricted gifts, and the IYNAUS

a planned gift to the IYNAUS endowment.

Board of Directors is no exception. In short, if any of you want to make a gift to IYANUS in your That said, many people who make planned gifts prefer to

will, there is no impediment to doing so now. Additional

restrict them so that they can be used only for a specific

information will be forthcoming in the next several months.

purpose and long-term projects. Currently we have one longterm program to which restricted gifts have been made: our

David W. Carpenter

archives project.

IYNAUS Treasurer April 3, 2015

The question has also been raised whether IYNAUS has an endowment. An endowment is a permanently restricted fund. Specifically, an endowment is a fund that that is invested, and

Classifieds YOUR DREAM

questions related to how or when to use props, how best to deal

Yoga studio/professional, 676 sq. ft. space, with beautiful 2,345

with specific health conditions, philosophical help with the

sq. ft. split ranch, four bedroom home on one acre.

sutras, tips on teaching or doing certain poses, and more. Please

Studio fully equipped for Iyengar practice. Lap pool, 47’;

send questions to yogasamachar@iynaus.org by Aug. 1.

fruit trees; close in yet bucolic. Gilbert, Arizona, 480.899.4803, archanayoga@earthlink.net. Photos of the studio at

JOIN IYNAUS

www.archanayoga.com. Interested parties only.

To join IYNAUS or renew your current membership, please visit our website and apply online: https://secure.iynaus.org/join.php.

CALL FOR MUSINGS

Membership fees begin at $60, with $30 of each membership

Yoga Samachar seeks submissions for our “Musings” column,

going to support teacher certification and continuing

which features a range of short thought pieces from members.

education.

These can be philosophical in nature or might focus on more practical topics—for example, a great idea for managing your

YOUR AD HERE

studio or for creating community in your home town. Please

Yoga Samachar accepts short, text-only ads to announce

send your own Musings to yogasamachar@iynaus.org by Aug. 1.

workshops, offer props for sale, list teacher openings at your studio, or provide other yoga-related information. Ads cost $50

ASK THE YOGI

for up to 50 words and $1 per word over 50 words, including

Yoga Samachar seeks questions for our “Ask the Yogi” column.

phone numbers, USPS addresses, and websites. Please contact

Rotating senior teachers provide answers to a range of

Rachel Frazee at rachel@yogalacrosse.com or 608.269.1441 for

questions submitted by IYNAUS members. We welcome your

more information or to submit an ad.

CORRECTIONS Martin Brading took the cover photo on the Fall 2014/Winter 2015 issue of Yoga Samachar as well as the photo on p. 36 of that issue. We apologize for the mistaken attribution. In the Spring/Summer 2011 issue, we printed an interview with Prashant Iyengar conducted by Bobby Clennell and 46

Richard Jonas. On p. 4 of the magazine, when Prashant was asked why he stopped playing the violin, he referred to an accident. The accident took place in 1989 rather than 1979, as was mistakenly printed. Thanks to Lee Sverkerson for noticing this mistake and researching the correct date of the accident.

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar

47


2014 Iyengar Yoga Assessments Here are the names of those who went up for and passed an assessment in 2014. Our method provides ongoing education for teachers at every level. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication!

Intermediate Senior II Ray Madigan Carrie Owerko

Intermediate Senior I Lara Brunn Colleen Gallagher Randy Just Sue Salaniuk

Intermediate Junior III Naghmeh Ahi Karen Allgire Sara Azarius Eichmiller Jarvis Chen Shelley Choy Isabela Fortes Christine Havener Peggy Kwisuk Hong Gary Jaeger Michelle LaRue Lisa Jo Landsberg Kiha Lee Nancy Mau Aretha McKinney Blevins Octavia Morgan Heather Haxo Phillips Nina Pileggi Manju Vachher Lucienne Vidah van der Honing

Intermediate Junior II Cynthia Bates Nikki Costello Mary DeVore Jennifer Edwards Scott Hobbs Holly Hughins Joy Laine Lori Lipton Ritland Rosa Lopez-Santana Diana Martinez Patricia McLoughlin Allen Mulch Tamarie Spielman

Intermediate Junior I Tricia Amheiser Winnie Au Anne Barbaret

48

Jessica Becker Amy Block-Hamilton Ruth Ann Bradley Natasha Caldwell Waraporn N. Cayeiro Katie Davidson Jonathan Dickstein Anneke Faas Signe Hartmann Andrea Isco Patricia Kalman Larry Lane Susan Marcus Lori McIntosh Kelly Moore Melinda Morey Tzahi Moskovitz Vladimir Nekrasov Sarah Nordin Kathleen Quinn Nadja Refaie Lisa Rotell Charlotte Sanpere Mari Beth Sartain Lauren Schumacher Jacqueline Shea Murphy Carlyn Sikes Brad Smith Cara Sorkin Julia Sterling Lori Theis Denise Weeks

Introductory II (newly certified) Cathy Adamo Anne Adams Nil Akin Susan Allen Sara Arends-Haggith Barbara Bair Jeanine Berlocher Nathan Blum Jenn Bowen Mary J. Bridle Kirsten Brooks Paula Brown Huijung Campbell Enrique Cayeiro Helen Chandler Darren Christensen Christine Corsa Sharon Cotugno Deanna Cramer Jerrilyn Crowley Leanne Cusumano Roque

Laila Deardorff Marilee Dejacimo Linda Dobbyn Dahlia Domian Kerry Doyle Rachel Feinberg Michael Furmanek Mary Garbiesi Shari Goldin Ana-Mari Hamada Penny Hanna Emi Harnden Gretchen House Susan Johnson MaryEllen Jurchak Anna Karasek Robyn Katz Holly Korab Louiza Koumoutsakis Coreene Kreiser Nadzeya Krol Linda Kundla Diane Lassman Deb Lau Achala Jeff LeGro Laura Lenee Vered Levy Randy Loftis Lisa Longton Jennifer Macgregor Dennis Tessa Manning Michelle Pilar Mansfield Elizabeth Marple Patti Martin Hector Jairo Martinez Kathryn McKinney Linda McReynolds Marjorie Minkler Olya Mokina Willamarie Moore Inge Mula MyllerupBrookhuis Beth Nelson Lori Neumann Danielle Ou Elizabeth Pagan Prakash Parameswaran Becky Patel Sue Phan Shannyn Joy Potter Scott Radin Laurel Rayburn Tara Rice Mary Rotscher Orli Rudolph

Julia Seaward Mary Shelley Jessica Sherwood Leslie Silver Cyndi Simpson Heidi Smith Kelly Sobanski Margaret Spear Celina Streeper Julie Tamarkin Ross Temple Virginia Tominia Dan Truini Sarah Tuttle Lisa Waas Ellen Wagner Tatyana Wagner Suzannah Walker Asha Watson Richard Weinapple Sachiko Willis Nancy Witters

Introductory I (not yet certified) Sara Agelasto Rose Alexander Jarad Barkeim David Berson Camille Bharucha Michele Bohbot Nathaniel Brown Jeffrey Brunner Michael Carpenter Patrick Carroll Izabel Carsalade Alfonso Castano Sheila Catapane Jane Caulfield-Cerchiaro Yoon Cho May Mei Chong Ute Johanna Claassen Joanna Colwell Samuel Cooper Rita Cruz-Zaterka Paula Curtis Cher de Rossiter Paul Defacio Gwendolyn Derk Diane Doran Jeanne Elliott Jerry Farmer Yelena Faynburd Taylor Ferry Carmen Fitzgibbon Kate Flock

Elizabeth Ford Carol Gardner Lucy Geever-Conroy Brina Gehry Rhonda Geraci Michelle Gindele Shari Goldin Melissa Hagen M. Lue Hartman Scarlett Headley Gwen Heisterkamp Anna Hindell Shivayogi Hiremath Lisa Incognito Monika Jaeckle Tina Jen Cory Johnston Shari Jones Meritaton Rose Kamego Kristen Kepnick Alvin Lau Stephanie Lavender Randy Loftis Ananda Ma Mike MacDonald Erin Malone Maureen Martin Kathy McDonald Mona McNeely Jolanda Messman Sandee Moreta Elizabeth Muzyka Jennifer Neil Layla Newman Tanya Patrovna Renee Razzano Denise Rowe Mary Scott Leigh Seacord Julia Seaward Victoria Seff Dushyant Shah Amy Sprys Amy Stewart Lisa Swanson Ute Swerdloff Tammy Talarico Whitney Taylor Karen Tercho Virginia Tominia Lisa Tsetse Casandra Walters Beate Weidemann Smith Richard Weinapple Irene Wong-Bushby Galit Yair

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015


POEM FOR OUR SKELETONS Limber akin to tree upright or leaning a little wind-swayed green and leafy in summer sycamore or live oak rock, chunky boulder these pebbles that a foot with its many little bones might kick and feel a kinship— the living sap flows through toe-bone to heel ankle, shin, and knee up longest bone to hip cradle that rocks us as we walk a miracle uprooted — Rosie King

Nancy Brooks Brody, Mountain and Desert, 2011


B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States P.O. Box 538 Seattle, WA 98111 www.iynaus.org

A student in Bellur provides a yoga demonstration for visitors. Photo: Michael Lucey Painted portrait of B.K.S. Iyengar at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India

Spring summer 2015  

The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the oga Samachar, the newsletter of the Iyengar Yoga community in the U.S. and beyond, is published...

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