VOL. 19 NO. 1
THE ART, SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY OF IYENGAR YOGA PLUS: YOGANUSASANAM LIGHTING THE WAY BELLUR TRUST
Spring / Summer 2015
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Simon email@example.com
Cynthia Bates firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Small email@example.com
Leslie Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Watson email@example.com
David Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Weeks email@example.com
Alex Cleveland firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Weiss email@example.com
Gloria Goldberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Cowdery (general manager) email@example.com
Michael Lucey firstname.lastname@example.org
Tori Milner email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com or 608.269.1441.
Cover: Dory Kanter, Misty Mountains, watercolor on paper. © 2015 Dory Kanter, www.dorykanter.com
Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar
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
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
Michael Lucey, Chair Chris Beach, Randy Just, Lisa Jo Landsberg, Manju Vachher, Jito Yumibe
Nancy Watson, Chair Carole Fridolph, Gloria Goldberg, Colleen Gallagher, Suzie Muchnick, Phyllis Rollins
David Carpenter, Chair Lynda Alfred, Gloria Goldberg, Stephen Weiss
Governance Committee Nancy Watson, Chair
David Carpenter, David Larsen
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
FROM THE REGIONS
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
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
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
Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar
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
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
ART, SCIENCE, AND PHILOSOPHY IN OUR PRACTICE BY LAURIE BLAKENEY
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.
Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015
THE LYRICAL LANGUAGE OF B.K.S. IYENGAR BY LAUREL RAYBURN
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
YOGA AND SCIENCE PART I: WAYS OF KNOWING BY SIEGFRIED BLEHER AND JARVIS CHEN Siegfried Bleher
Jarvis Chen Photo: Travis L. Kelley
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.
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
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
take: What is it that we are ultimately “pulled by”? What is our
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
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
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.
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.
Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015
BODY SENSATIONS: NEUROBIOLOGY, LEARNING TO FEEL, AND SENSORY TEAMWORK BY GIN MCCOLLUM
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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,
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,
Spring/Summer 2015 Yoga Samachar
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
U.S. IYENGAR YOGA COMMUNITY CELEBRATES GLORIA GOLDBERG
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.”
—Sunita Iyengar Parthasarathy
in 2001, Guruji’s visit to Estes Park in 2005,
“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
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
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
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
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
body, my cells knew something.’ Her first Iyengar Yoga teacher
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.
Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015
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
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
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.
Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2015
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
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 Trustâ€™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 Gurujiâ€™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 Gurujiâ€™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
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
Dues (less regions’ shares)
Event revenues (including receivables)
Store revenues less cost of goods (store sales at events are in parenthesis)
Charitable contributions to IYNAUS
Yoga Samachar advertising revenue
Restricted Revenue Certification mark (less payments to India) Charitable contributions to archives
Earmarked Revenue Assessment fees and manual
Salaries and employment taxes
Website design and maintenance
IYNAUS board meeting travel expenses
Office supplies and expenses
Merchant and bank fees (for store)
Nonemployee insurance and taxes
NET REVENUE—Excluding convention/regional conferences and store sales made at these events
PR consultant expenses Production expenses for Yoga Samachar
Yoga Journal advertising
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
(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
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
(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
IYNAUS BALANCE SHEET Oct. 2012
CURRENT ASSETS Unrestricted Assets IYNAUS bank accounts and cash equivalents Accounts Receivable Unpaid 2014 dues from NY region
San Diego conference/convention loan
IYASE loan on Maitri Conference loss
Store accounts receivable
IYNAUS store inventory
Computers and equipment
Certification mark bank accounts
Restricted Assets IYNAUS archives bank account
CURRENT LIABILITIES Accounts payable Prepaid 2015 assessment fees
Long-term notes (international archives)
EQUITY (NET WORTH)
TOTAL CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS
UNRESTRICTED CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug. 1.
fruit trees; close in yet bucolic. Gilbert, Arizona, 480.899.4803, email@example.com. Photos of the studio at
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.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
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
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 kinshipâ€” 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 â€” 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