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Vol. 17 No. 1

Spring/Summer 2013

Journey to India Journey Inward



Yoga Samachar’s Mission

Letter From the President — Janet Lilly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

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:

News From the Regions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Journey to India, Journey Within —Tori Milner . . . . . . . . . 6 Early Days at RIMYI Public Classes in Poona — Fred Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Pune Without Pollution (Almost) — Joan White . . . . . . . . . 11 First Impressions — Bobby Clennell . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Diary Excerpts Gifts From the Source — Sharon Conroy . . . . . . . . .


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

Finding the Grill — Vicky Grogg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

• Communicate information regarding the standards and training of certified teachers

Traveling to India: Two Trips in One — Siegfried Bleher .


• Report on studies regarding the practice of Iyengar Yoga

History and Highlights of the Pune Guide — Denise Weeks . . .


• Provide information on products that IYNAUS imports from India

Guruji’s Birthday Gifts and Maitri in Bellur — Gaye Painten . . . 25

Paksha Pratipaksha on Results-Oriented Versus Indifference — Robin Lowry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Samachar Sequence Jet Lag Sequence — Julie Lawrence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 2012 Iyengar Yoga Assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

• Review and present recent articles and books written by the Iyengars • 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

Musings Memory — Carrie Owerko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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

Book Review Yoga Philosophy On and Off the Mat: B.K.S. Iyengar’s Core of the Yoga Sutras — Peggy Hong . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yoga Samachar is produced by the IYNAUS Publications Committee


Classfieds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Treasurer’s Report – IYNAUS Finances — David Carpenter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 On the Rolling Seas — Mary Ann Travis . . . . . . . . . . . .


IYNAUS Board Member Contact List Please contact your board members at iynaus-board-staff. David Carpenter

Kathy Simon

Alex Cleveland

Eric Small

Kevin Hainley

Nancy Watson

Rebecca Lerner

Denise Weeks

Janet Lilly

Sharon Cowdery (General Manager)

Michael Lucey Tori Milner Mary Reilly Phyllis Rollins

Contact IYNAUS: P.O. Box 538 Seattle WA 98111 206.623.3562

Editor: Michelle D. Williams Copy Editor: Denise Weeks Design: Don Gura 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 Sept. 1. Please send queries to in advance.

Advertising Yoga Samachar is now accepting paid advertising. Fullpage, 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. For more information, including rates, artwork specifications, and deadlines, please go to

Cover photo by Jake Clennell

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


IYNAUS Officers and Standing Committees


from the President

President: Janet Lilly Vice President: Michael Lucey Secretary: Denise Weeks Treasurer: David Carpenter

Dear Fellow IYNAUS Members,

Archives Committee

I would like to begin by thanking our former IYNAUS board president Chris Beach and

Eric Small, Chair

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

ByLaws Committee

outgoing board members Patrina Dobish, Leslie Freyberg, Elizabeth Hynes, and Christine Nounou. This dedicated team contributed so much to the association and has left behind large shoes to fill for those of us following in their footsteps!

Janet Lilly, Chair

David Carpenter, Kevin Hainley, David Larsen

Certification Committee Mary Reilly, Chair

Marla Apt, Linda DiCarlo, James Murphy, Lois Steinberg

Elections Committee

Alex Cleveland, Chair Chris Beach, Patrina Dobish

Ethics Committee

Rebecca Lerner, Chair

One of the initiatives that the previous board oversaw was the 2011 amendment of the IYNAUS Bylaws, which brought us more into alignment with the Pune Constitution. The most obvious benefit of this change was apparent at our November 2012 board meeting. For the first time, the incoming board members sitting around the table— Alex Cleveland, Kevin Hainley, Tori Milner, Kathy Simon, Eric Small, Nancy Watson, and Denise Weeks—had been elected or appointed from their regional associations.

Joan White, Sue Salaniuk, Michael Lucey

Events Committee

Nancy Watson, Chair Patrina Dobish, Gloria Goldberg, Diana Martinez, Phyllis Rollins

Finance Committee

David Carpenter, Chair Kevin Hainley, Janet Lilly

Membership Committee Phyllis Rollins, Chair

IMIYA – Leslie Bradley IYAGNY – Elisabeth Pintos IYAMN – Elizabeth Cowan IYAMW – Becky Meline IYANC – Risa Blumlien IYANE – Kathleen Swanson IYANW – Margrit von Braun IYASC-LA – Kat Lee Shull IYASC-SD – Lynn Patton IYASCUS – Michelle Mock IYASE – Diana Martinez IYASW – Lisa Henrich

Publications Committee Tori Milner, Chair

Carole Del Mul, Don Gura, Richard Jonas, Pat Musburger, Phyllis Rollins, Denise Weeks, Michelle D. Williams

Public Relations and Marketing Committee Tori Milner, Chair

David Carpenter, Sharon Honeycutt, Michael Lucey

Regional Support Committee Alex Cleveland, Chair

IMIYA – Melody Madonna IYAGNY – Ann McDermott-Kave IYAMN – Katy Olson IYAMW – Jennie Williford IYANC – Heather Haxo Phillips IYANE – Jarvis Chen IYANW – Anne Geil IYASC-LA – Kat Lee Shull IYASC-SD – Lynn Patton IYASCUS – Anne Marie Schultz IYASE – Alex Cleveland IYASW – Lisa Henrich and Josephine Lazarus

Scholarship and Awards Committee Denise Weeks, Chair

Chris Beach, Leslie Freyberg, Richard Jonas, Lisa Jo Landsberg, Pat Musburger, John Schumacher

Service Mark & Certification Mark Committee Gloria Goldberg, Attorney in Fact for B.K.S. Iyengar Rebecca Lerner, Board Liaison

Systems & Technology Committee Kevin Hainley, Chair

Ed Horneij, William Mckee, David Weiner

Yoga Research Committee Kathy Simon, Chair

Jerry Chiprin, Jean Durel, Alicia Rowe, Kimberly Williams

This issue of Yoga Samachar, “Journey to India, Journey Inward,” includes stories from members about their experiences studying at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI). Having just returned from my sixth course of study at RIMYI, I remain amazed by the depth of knowledge and continued innovation that the Iyengars bring to their daily teaching. It is gratifying to witness what an international center RIMYI has become with students from all over the world, including China and the Middle East, coming to study with the Iyengar family. As a professor of dance by profession, while in India, I also travel to other cities to teach dance and choreography. When I mention that I study Iyengar Yoga, I am always struck by the degree of respect people have for the Iyengars and their method. This observation has led me to reflect that there is often not the same familiarity with the value of the Iyengar method in the United States. I hope this is not everyone’s experience, but many IYNAUS-certified teachers have contacted board members requesting that IYNAUS help them find ways to increase public exposure to the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. To this end, IYNAUS hosted an in-service panel, “Building Your Student Base,” at the Sarvabhauma San Diego Convention. This event invited convention attendees to join a panel discussion of strategies for creating thriving Iyengar method classes in a crowded marketplace. We are particularly grateful to our panelists—Peggy Hong, Holly Hughins, Randy Just, Pat Musburger, and John Schumacher— for volunteering their time and expertise. The board received many positive responses to IYNAUS Treasurer David Carpenter’s Financial Report featured in the Fall 2012/Winter 2013 issue of Yoga Samachar. We plan to include financial updates in subsequent issues with the goal of keeping members informed about the factors involved in making fiscal decisions that best serve all of our members. To this end, we also are initiating a multistaged strategic planning process that begins with addressing the core values of the organization and imagining our collective future. I know that I speak for the entire IYNAUS board when I say that we look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can serve the Iyengar Yoga community better. With many thanks, Janet Lilly, President Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States

IYNAUS Senior Council Chris Saudek, John Schumacher, Patricia Walden 2

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013


from the regions


Yogathon, the centerpiece of the afternoon, features yoga

The InterMountain Iyengar Yoga Association (IMIYA) launched

demonstrations by teachers, students, and board members who

“Studio Walk” as a way for members and other students to

hold a pose, repeat a pose, or show creativity, with sponsors

connect and to reach out to people new to the Iyengar method.

pledging them. This year’s profits will support the association

Each month between May and September 2013, a different

and help outfit the new Brooklyn Institute.

member-owned studio is hosting an IMIYA-sponsored class taught by a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor. Classes are free

The Brooklyn Institute furthers IYAGNY’s mission of bringing

to IMIYA members and nonmembers alike. For schedule

Iyengar Yoga to as many people as possible while increasing

information, contact Angie Woyar at manager@

opportunities for teachers. Many current Institute students and Also, IMIYA can provide marketing

teachers live in Brooklyn, and the borough has been in

for your studio event.

IYAGNY’s expansion plans for years.

IMIYA will hold the Second Annual Iyengar Yoga Day, Saturday,

A goal of $300,000 has been set for outfitting the studio, and

Oct. 5, 2013. Iyengar Yoga Day will be held at Iyengar Yoga

more than $160,000 has been raised so far. Donations are

Center Denver. This year, Yoga Day teachers will offer eight 1.5-

welcome; please go to for details.

hour classes and four alternative classes. All-day pass holders can choose four sessions. Sessions will be taught by a variety of

25 Years Lighting the Way

certified Iyengar Yoga teachers. A complete listing of teachers,

Auspiciously timed to coincide with Diwali—India’s festival of

descriptions of their classes, and times they’ll teach each class

lights—IYAGNY celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala

will be available on the IMIYA website no later than July 15, 2013.

themed “25 Years Lighting the Way.” On Nov. 14, 2012, nearly 200


association students, teachers, and supporters enjoyed a night of festive delights and appreciation. Via a video recording, Abhijata Iyengar welcomed attendees and expressed her

Bridges to Brooklyn

gratitude for all that IYAGNY is doing to promote Iyengar Yoga.

The Mary Dunn Celebration/Yogathon, the yearly event that brings the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York

Sponsored by Dana and Michael Goldstein, the celebration

(IYAGNY) together, took place on Sunday, June 2. This year’s

honored Martha Stewart, who has long championed Iyengar

edition, “Bridges to Brooklyn,” spotlighted IYAGNY’s soon-to-

Yoga, and also recognized Judy Brick Freedman and Carol

open second studio in Brooklyn.

Eugenia Burns, two founding IYAGNY teachers. Proceeds from the event will support the association’s three-fold mission of

The Institute has hosted the celebration since 2005. Students,

enabling progressive lifelong learning and practice of Iyengar

teachers, and association members attend special classes,

Yoga, offering teaching of the highest standards, and fostering a

including the annual Spirit of Mary Dunn class, in which

community of practitioners within New York, New Jersey,

association teachers pay tribute to Mary’s teachings by

Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

presenting an asana as they remember her teaching it.

Architectural rendering of the lobby at the new IYAGNY Brooklyn Institute by Mitchell B. Owen Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

The Sa Dance Company performs at the IYAGNY 25th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Liam Cunningham) 3


from the regions

Among the specific association initiatives funded in part by gala donations are the opening of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Brooklyn, as well as a continuation of a student scholarship program, specific needs classes, and free classes for amputees, survivors of breast cancer, students living with HIV, and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. IYAGNY would like to thank supporters and volunteers who helped make the 25th anniversary celebration a success, and who continue to help IYAGNY thrive. To view more photos from the 25th anniversary celebration visit and click on the “Photos” tab.

IYAMN In November, the Iyengar Yoga Association of Minnesota (IYAMN) was privileged to host Jawahar Bangera from Mumbai, India. In addition to managing two yoga centers in Mumbai,

Students participate in a three-day teacher-training course at the Yoga Institute of Champaign Urbana.


Jawahar is also a director of the Iyengar Institute in Pune and a

The Iyengar Association of Northern California (IYANC) has

Trustee of the Light on Yoga Research Trust. He also has

seen a renewed interest in supporting regional activities beyond

traveled to many conventions with Guruji over the years, so we

the Institute in San Francisco. There is interest in establishing a

felt very fortunate to have him teach here. This was Jawahar’s

regional committee that would elevate awareness and attract

first visit to Minnesota. On Nov. 1–2 he taught a series of

students to Iyengar Yoga throughout Northern California,

intermediate classes at the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Center of

support certified teachers in our region, and create a more

Minneapolis, followed by two days of general classes at the

meaningful sangha (community or association) among Iyengar

Minneapolis Yoga Workshop, concluding his workshop with a

practitioners. Specific goals include increasing the number of

pranayama class. His classes gave students a wealth of asana

members and certified teachers in our region. Next steps are to

instruction and knowledge of the Iyengar method threaded

formalize the committee and create an action plan for

with philosophical insights into the practice of yoga. His long

2013/2014. For more information or to get involved with the

association with the Iyengars provided a sense of the history

regional committee, please email

and depth of study that his teachers engage in. It was an inspiring weekend for everyone.

The Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco (IYISF) is excited to announce a new, free restorative class for members. The class

On Dec. 14, IYAMN held one of its biannual Yoga Days to celebrate

will take place quarterly and be taught by local Iyengar Yoga

Guruji’s birthday. The event was held at the Saint Paul Yoga

certified teachers. The next class is on June 15, and details are

Center, and William Prottengeier donated his teaching. After class

available at under Community Events.

there was a celebration of Guruji’s birthday with tea and cake. IYAMN Yoga Days provide the Minneapolis and greater region an

In April, IYISF held a successful Yogathon, bringing together

opportunity for members to connect with each other and build

members of the Northern California community to practice all

community. These events allow students to celebrate their

108 asanas while raising funds for the Institute. IYISF has

dedication and devotion to the Iyengars and the subject of yoga.

hosted this fundraiser for seven years, but this was the first

IYAMW A member studio of the Iyengar Yoga Association of the Midwest (IYAMW), the Yoga Institute of Champaign Urbana

time the event has been open to beginner students. Beginners were invited to participate for the first 54 asanas and stay for the rest of the event, which included a movie, potluck, and prizes.

recently held a three-day teacher education course. Dr. Sucheta


Paranjape from Pune joyfully lectured on The Bhagavad Gita, The

Iyengar Yoga is alive and well in the South Central region.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and The Upanishads. Student teachers

Check out the Iyengar Yoga Association of the South Central

practiced their syllabi and taught in groups as well as teaching

U.S. (IYASCUS) blog at , written and

mock assessments and learning adjustments.

maintained by Karen Phillips.


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Austin Yoga Institute has moved to a new location and

Student projects ranged from poems to glass sculptures to a

sponsored George Purvis and Gabriella Guibilaro this spring.

10-foot by 3-foot poster created by Inge Mullerup-Brookhuis.

The Boerne Yoga Center, also in a new location, hosted H.S Arun

The colorful poster covered all kinds of mind and brain

in May. Arun also will teach workshops in Denton, Dallas, and

activities and would have fit in at a science fair.

Austin this summer. O’Bannon says she made the assignment “because I feel too Many of our local teachers are quite busy as well:

many people are turned away from their creativity as children.

• George Purvis (Senior Intermediate III) came to San Marcos

Many never know the beauty that lies with them.” Yoga unlocks

School of Yoga in the fall and visited Austin and Houston this spring. • Randy Just (Junior III) teaches numerous workshops around

this inner beauty—and “connects us to our soul.”

IYASW On Nov. 3–4, 2012, Open Spaces Yoga in Pinetop, Ariz., hosted

the region and is involved with a teacher-training program

the first membership workshop for the newly formed Iyengar

at his studio and in the San Angelo area.

Yoga Association of the Southwest (IYASW). Taught by certified instructor Josephine Lazarus, the workshop theme was

• Peggy Kelley (Junior III) has been traveling to Mexico quite

“Opening to Transformation,” based on a sequence developed

frequently. She helps with assessments in Mexico and does

by B.K.S. Iyengar and Manouso Manos. Thirteen students

teacher training for studios in Veracruz and elsewhere.

attended the workshop—many of which were new to yoga or the Iyengar method.

• Pauline Schloesser (Introductory II) is hosting a series of special Saturday workshops at Alcove Studio in Houston,

Senior teacher Caroline Belko taught a weekend workshop at

and Devon Dederich is offering a series of Saturday classes

Scottsdale Community College Feb. 22–24, 2013. Caroline is a

on how to use props at Clear Spring Studio in Austin.

regular instructor in the ongoing teacher-training program.

• Anne-Marie Schultz (Introductory II) maintains the Iyengar

Tucson is not the dry desert after all. Life-giving showers have

Yoga in Austin blog as well as a Teaching Philosophy and

supported the B.K.S. Iyengar Studio in the form of a Rita Lewis

Yoga blog. Both blogs (

Manos workshop in February. Just back from Pune, Rita shared

and have more

the messages from Guruji’s morning classes.

than 1,000 views per month.


Dean Lerner will offer a workshop at B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Tucson in October, marking more than 20 visits to this studio. Everyone in

A member studio of the Iyengar Yoga Association of the

Arizona appreciates the willingness of senior teachers to come to

Southeast (IYASE), Audubon Yoga Studio in New Orleans hosted

a small community over many years to share their knowledge.

Karin O’Bannon for a teacher training in January. O’Bannon is an inspirational trainer of teachers and a yoga practitioner who urges us to teach from our intuition. “Give up your analytical mind,” she says. “Be one with your students.” O’Bannon (Intermediate Senior III) has taught yoga in Los Angeles; Rishikesh, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Brazil; and most recently, China. Since 2009, she has been traveling from her current home in Shreveport, La., to New Orleans to conduct teacher-training workshops five times a year at Audubon Yoga Studio, which is owned and directed by Becky Lloyd. In January, O’Bannon gave participants in this year’s teachertraining program an open-ended assignment: Look at all parts of citta, and come up with a way to relate them to each other. Be creative, she said. Make a chart, a poem, a play, or a picture.

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

Students participate in the first membership workshop in the Southwest region.


Journey to India Journey Within


By Tori Milner hen I reflect on my five trips to India so far, I am most struck by how each trip is different. Each time I go, I am different. India changes and becomes more

Westernized. Being in Pune with the Iyengars and the Indian teachers and students gives me a perspective that I just couldn’t find anywhere else in the world. The journey, like yoga itself, is like a mirror, reflecting back exactly where I am and who I am at that point in time.

Illustration by Curtis Settino Photos by Tori Milner 6

Yoga Samachar Spring/Summer 2013

When I first began taking yoga classes at 25, I really wasn’t looking for a journey inward, nor did I think I had any interest in visiting India. I had done yoga out of books with my mother as a child but nothing that stuck. Then I saw my friend’s 65-year-old mother do a headstand and variations at a party to entertain her grandchildren. I was fascinated. She looked so graceful and stable. I was completely inspired. I had a motivation to begin: I wanted to be able to do what she did with her body and look as graceful. But there was something else; I wanted to be able to concentrate like that. The closest yoga center happened to offer Iyengar Yoga. I took one class a week for about six months. Then it crept up to two, three, and four classes, and before I knew it, I was completely hooked. My first teacher, Joe, used to tell very funny stories of going to study with the Iyengars. I never imagined I would go at some point. years of seeing him in black and white in Light on Yoga. His skin I wound up moving to New York in 1999 and had the good

looked soft like a child’s, his body even more supple than the

fortune to begin studying with Mary Dunn. She had the most

youngsters in the room, and the energy he radiated seemed as

unique, inspiring way of speaking to the wholeness of our

bright as the sun, lighting up the hall. I was mesmerized. Many

humanity as she taught the mechanics of the postures, not

days I would set up near him during practice to catch what was

only instructing us how to do but also how to be. She opened a

happening and with the exciting and terrifying hope that he

window into a view of myself and taught me how to relate the

might “notice me.” After two months there, I realized that

asanas to life. She taught me how to use my arms and legs to

whether or not he noticed me was not the point. I was there to

serve the greater whole, and also how to use my senses to

take note of him and what he was teaching, how he was

discover the core of my being. I realized that asana was not only

practicing, and how he transmitted information to the students

about doing but also undoing and even not doing. I began

he was working with.

assisting classes, shifting from doing to observing, and realized the incredible range of ways people can (or can’t) move. In 2001,

Someone told me that if you brought a letter to Geeta, she

just a few months before 9/11, I decided I wanted to teach, so I

would give you a sequence of your very own. Innocently, one

quit my job and enrolled in the two-year program in New York.

night after class early the first month, I went up to her, got on

I arranged dates to go to RIMYI and study with the Iyengars—

my knees and slipped her a letter that I had written. When I

June and July 2004. Mary suggested going at the start of their

raised my head up, she was looking right into my eyes. I had

new session in June and that two months were better than one.

never felt so seen by another human being. It felt as if she could see straight into my soul. Not sure whether to cry, smile,

When I arrived at JFK airport to embark on my trip, a miniature

or run, I was determined to stay put and look neutral. I

India was taking place in the Air India section. What first

immediately sensed that she would not be giving me a personal

appeared like a line was a chaotic frenzy—a cluster of activity

sequence. As the trip went on, I realized she was giving me

that gave me a taste of where I was headed—far away from the

something far greater—her time, her energy, her love of

familiar, straightforward, organized ways of my American city

teaching, and her devotion to the subject of yoga. By absorbing

into the mysterious ways of the East.

those, I would receive my “answers.”

I arrived a few days early to acclimate myself and went to the

That first trip, Geeta had recently hurt her arm and was not

Institute to watch Geeta teach a class. As I sat on the stairs, I

teaching all of her usual classes, so I got to experience a range

craned my neck to see the entire room, and suddenly, there he

of teachers. They made it so simple! There were so many poses!

was. He was on a Viparita Karani box in the middle of the room,

When I observed classes, there were so many things that they

and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m sure I held my breath. It was

were letting go. Some of the headstands I saw would have sent

captivating and thrilling to see that B.K.S. Iyengar was real—

an American teacher into a panic, I thought. And Prashant’s

live, three-dimensional and in full Technicolor—after all those

classes were a lively forum for “doing, knowing, and

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


I went up to him to pay my respects, and when I lifted my head back up, he looked at me sternly and said, “So, did you catch something?”

understanding” the asanas from his

and drop back.” He pointed to the mat right in front of Mr.

wonderful perspective of marrying

Iyengar. I looked around to make sure nobody else named Tori

the mind and breath to the body.

was standing behind me. I looked at the mat he was pointing to. “Right there?” I asked, incredulous. “Yes, you have to,” he said,

On that first trip, I was extremely

pleading with his eyes but not his voice.

extroverted. I shopped a lot for myself and bought scarves and

My generation has not had the experience of studying directly

jewelry. I went to the German Bakery

under Guruji. But we are getting a taste of it in the ladies’ class

on Sundays. I took side trips to

over the past few years. He came to New York to see us perform

Mahabeleshwar and the caves. I ate

on his Light on Life book tour and bless our then-new institute in

the spicy food regularly and got sick

2005. Of course, I had seen him on all my trips to Pune, and I

quite a few times because it was so

had met him in New York, but I wasn’t sure if he had any idea

delicious and I just couldn’t restrain

who I was.

myself. I planned and held parties to meet my fellow Iyengar Yoga

So I stepped onto the mat right in front of Guruji, feeling

practitioners from around the world.

more vulnerable than I have ever felt. I tried to be brave

It was, after all, my first trip.

and did my best, but I didn’t feel anywhere near ready to go all the way back to touch the floor, and I didn’t. I didn’t

In spite of all that, I had a profound experience in the practice

want to sacrifice good form just to drop. Truthfully, I

hall and felt truly changed by my first experience in India and

hadn’t gone from Tadasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana in quite

with the Iyengars. It was early August when I arrived back

a while. I had had a lower back issue flare up about a year

home to hot summer in New York City. I was shocked by all the

and a half prior, and I was rebuilding my flexibility,

cars, stores, and people—and the amount of skin they were

strength, and courage. As Guruji revealed to me that day,

showing! Every time I saw an Indian person or family on the

it probably had most to do with courage.

subway, I wanted to rush up to them and explain how I was just transformed by their country. I wanted to tell them I

Guruji had the assistants tie me incredibly close to the rope

understood India! Luckily for them, I restrained myself.

wall with a short belt and then insisted that I reach back and touch the floor. I am only five feet tall, and while I am certainly

My fifth and most recent trip was this past October. I went for

flexible, I was probably at least six inches away from touching

one month. I lived right next door in my favorite apartment

the ground. He yelled instructions as I went back, “Press your

where I have become a regular. It was a relatively quiet month

heels and make your middle fingers HEAVY! Go down from the

in the practice hall. I did not plan any parties or do much

latissimus! Elbow joints back!” I tried, but they still didn’t touch

shopping. I wanted to immerse myself in the practice more

all the way. I quickly came back up. “Ah, see,” he said to

than ever. I enjoyed morning classes with Prashant, ladies’

Abhijata and the assistants, “that is called escapism.” I tried

classes with Guruji and Abhijata, and pranayama with Geeta. I

again, determined to touch the floor. I still couldn’t reach all

also went to the library and helped out in the medical classes.

the way down. This time, he said, “Lift your kidneys to come

Because I have been there quite a few times now, some of the

back up!” It felt more supported.

teachers have gotten to know my name. I made several attempts from this new position at the wall. It One day, mid-month, after a morning class with Prashant, I

all seemed to go in slow motion. It was surreal. At one point, I

went back to my apartment to have a leisurely cup of tea and

noticed that a large, blurry crowd had gathered around us, but I

some banana before returning to practice. When I got to the

was barely aware of them. During one of my attempts, Guruji

hall around 10 a.m., it was fairly busy, so I set up in the middle.

finally came over. I was reaching for the floor, upside down, and

I then went to use the ropes because I was planning to do

saw only his legs coming toward me over on my right-hand

backbends. I was doing simple Ropes 1, static and swinging, as

side. I’m sure I tensed up, afraid that he was going to break me

well as some work they had shown us in the ladies’ class. One

in two! He pushed me down and pumped several times on the

of the Indian teachers was doing graceful drop backs from

right side of my diaphragm. Then he walked around and did the

Tadasana a few mats down. Guruji was practicing in his usual

same on my left-hand side. As strong as it might have looked

spot. I heard him say something. Suddenly, the Indian teacher

and as loud as I yelled out, it didn’t hurt. I think my shouts

leapt over to me, and said, “Tori, you have to come over here

came more from a place of visceral surprise as he showed me a


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

glimpse of my body’s true potential, and it was fierce! Finally, I

where you are no one and you are nothing.” And there are times

touched the ground! He walked away and surveyed his work. “She

when I really can feel that humble, quiet place inside, unsoiled

has improved,” he said. ”See how much is the fear complex.”

by my wants, worries, and the outside world.

They moved me into a different position on the rope wall

I am struck by the difference between this last trip and my first

hanging over a rope swing with my shins on the wall and I

trip almost 10 years ago. I can see that my reflection in the

reached over backwards toward a rope attached to the bottom

mirror is a little older, but also wiser. My motivations and

hooks on the floor. “You have to bring life to the back ribs and

expectations are more aligned with the present moment and

pacify the lumbar,” Guruji said. “This is why all of them

less intent on “getting it” for some external praise or

complain of lower backache!” After some time there, I went to

recognition. On any given day, I attempt to explore the vastness

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana at the wall, and by now it had been

within through the incredible practice of Iyengar Yoga, not just

over an hour. I was tired but determined to understand, so I

through the asanas, but also through studying the philosophy.

kept working. I saw them finally put him in Savasana. “Oh good,

Just before I left, I asked Prashant to sign a book for me. He

it’s over,” I thought. Just as I was about to start winding down,

wrote, “Wishing you motivation without motive in yog.” Now, I

Abhijata said, “Tori, come over here and do Kapotasana!” My

understand that concept and aim to loosen my grip on those

heart began racing again. “Come and do! He remembers you

motivations as much as possible.

from the New York demonstration!” she said. She adjusted me adeptly with the fat round “ruler” to keep the tailbone lifted so

Although my practice is far from perfect, it wouldn’t be

the outer hip sockets and buttocks would not drop. In the

anything like it is without the guidance of the Iyengars. Being

center! Tied again to the ropes. More and more! Then, suddenly

there and having direct contact with them has shown me what

it seemed the hall was half-emptied out, everyone left was in

I think it means to experience involution—to take the journey

Savasana, and somehow I made my way to Ardha Halasana over

inward. Classes are simple, profound, pure, and transformative.

a bench for some relief. I was exhilarated and quite tired.

Being a learner in their presence and under their influence uplifts the level of my practice, and when I return, my teaching

I went back to my apartment, and after one of the deepest naps

is uplifted as well. Many of the typical obstacles I face, such as

I have ever taken, I wrote Guruji a note thanking him for what

laziness, fear, doubt, and restlessness, go into remission under

he had shown me. I went to the library that afternoon to give

their guidance. I contact the depth and breadth of my being,

him the note. He wasn’t there. As I came up for the medical

transcending my limited perceptions. And that, for me, is the

class, I saw him and handed it to him. He didn’t acknowledge

deeply powerful beauty of Iyengar Yoga and the reason I am

me, but took the letter. The next morning, after the ladies’ class,

still hooked on learning and teaching it after all these years.

I went up to him to pay my respects, and when I lifted my head back up, he looked at me sternly and said, “So, did you catch something?” “Yes Guruji!” I exclaimed. “So, when you go home,

Tori Milner (Intermediate Junior III) teaches at the Iyengar Yoga Institute

teach like that!” “Yes, Guruji,” I said, and as I walked away, I was

of New York.

stunned that he hadn’t said, “When you go home, practice like that.” He said teach like that! So I began to reflect on what that meant and what a big responsibility we have as Iyengar Yoga teachers and students. What was that teaching like? The approach was clear, direct, and demanding, from a place of understanding what the student was capable of, to help him or her overcome the “fear complex.” The student’s job is to catch, receive, and break through perceived limits. Guruji’s teaching married intensity with intelligence to a level that was transforming. It drove me deeper and deeper inward beyond the dualities—there simply wasn’t room! Under the right conditions, I can experience this quality of transcendence in my practice, and I strive to transmit that to my students. Geeta once said in Savasana to “go to the place Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


Early Days At RIMYI

Public Classes in Poona By Fred Smith


une in the late ’70s and early ’80s was a very different place than it is in 2013. For yoga students and everyone else, it was a much quieter and more beautiful city. In this way, it was more amenable to yoga study. My

position was quite different from many of the other students visiting the Institute. As a Ph.D. student studying Sanskrit at the University of Pennsylvania, I had a long-term grant for conducting research in India. Thus, I took public classes rather than attend the classes reserved for foreigners. I also did not mix with them socially because I had a full life in Pune and was

I also enjoyed sitting beneath the big banyan trees that lined Fergusson

committed to my work.

College Road.

I attended four classes per week—on Monday morning, Tuesday

Alas, they were

evening, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. The Tuesday evening class was the most advanced class of the week, and Thursday evening was the pranayama class. Saturday morning was a men’s class, and Monday morning was a mixed general class. Most of the classes were taught nominally by Prashant, but Guruji was right there and ended up teaching most of every

chopped down about 15 years ago.

the last week. But any class could easily move into twists or advanced balancing poses. The Iyengars did not plan out their classes beforehand with written sequences. They ebbed and flowed with their knowledge, as perhaps only they could at that time. For me it was a joyful time, even if I was completely wasted after a difficult Saturday morning class. I frequently took off afterward to the Vaishali or Roopali snack joints, drinking two cups of their pudding-like milk chai and eating plates of idlis or sabudana wadas, the tapioca dumplings with

class. When I arrived, Guruji had not yet begun growing his hair

ground peanut, coriander, and

long, but by the mid-1980s, he had. It did not change his

green chile that were

demeanor much, but his leonine appearance added to his

characteristic of Pune.

reputation for ferociousness. I also enjoyed sitting beneath the big banyan trees that lined The sequences were varied, with the general pattern of

Fergusson College Road. Alas, they were chopped down about

standing poses the first week of every month, forward bends

15 years ago, sacrificed to the great god of modernity. Most of

the second week, backbends the third week, and pranayama

the beautiful old houses built in pre-Independence days, part of the Indo-Saracenic architecture that made Bombay and Poona so lovely (this was before “Mumbai” and “Pune”), have also been ripped down by the demons who stole away Poona—namely developers, who also destroyed about two-thirds of the big maidan or cricket field that gave Deccan Gymkhana its name. Those were good years to be in Poona; the Iyengars were in their prime, and the city was vibrant, beautiful, uncluttered, and relatively unpolluted.

Fred Smith, professor of Sanskrit and classical Indian literature at the University of Iowa, has been practicing Iyengar Yoga since 1980, six of those years in Pune at RIMYI, studying with the Iyengars. He has frequently lectured at yoga studios and yoga conferences on aspects 1977 International General Intensive (Photo by Lindsey Clennell)


of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and other yoga related topics.

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Pune Without Pullution (Almost) By Joan White


’ll never forget my first trip to Pune in 1976 (nor my husband’s response when I told him I wanted to go in 1975: “Over my dead body!”) Well, fortunately that didn’t have to happen.

It was 1976, and “yoga” was a four-letter word. Women’s lib was focused on equality in the workplace, and I was mother to a four-year-old and had a husband who needed me to take care

1977: Guruji is on the platform, adjusting someone in Sarvangasana. He’s working to move the student’s tailbone in. (Photo by Lindsey Clennell)

of them both. However, after not being able to go to Pune in 1975 when the Institute opened, I didn’t ask anyone’s permission when I received the invitation in 1976 from Mary Palmer. I immediately sent her whatever money I had stashed away as a deposit. I didn’t dare mention anything to anyone. It was our little secret. Of course as the time approached, I had to tell my husband, who, caught completely off guard, had no words at all to respond. It was the first time I had ever left him or our son for longer than a week. When the shock wore off, I told him I had some childcare in place and some food in the freezer. He was a professor of classical archaeology and could manage to pick our son up from preschool.

The Pune we saw then is almost completely gone.

people and lots of small shops were open for business. I had no idea what to expect, but somehow I never expected what I saw. Who shops at 2 a.m.? What was holding the shop owners’ wooden carts together? How did they manage to rig up lighting with only a single light bulb or some sort of flashlight configuration? Everyone seemed so poor. Slums surrounded the airport. They no longer

exist, but at the time, they were overwhelming. There were people sleeping on the ground, under blankets, shawls, or any

I later learned I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time

sort of covering they could find. At first, I thought they were

getting away from home to make the journey. Some had

dead because you couldn’t see their heads. We had been told

childcare issues, one or more had to leave behind 25 frozen

before we left that sometimes dead people were left on the

dinners, and others had to take bank loans in order to even

sidewalks, so how was I to tell if they were dead or not?

begin the journey—let alone face what was awaiting them upon their arrival in Mumbai.

From the airport we made our way to what was then the brand new Oberoi Hotel. People were lying on the sidewalks outside

Because it was my first epic journey, I thought it wise to ask my

the hotel, too, but when we entered, we were suddenly

doctor for something that would help me sleep on the long

transported into a world of marble floors, doormen, white

plane ride. I met the Ann Arbor group at JFK, and we flew Swiss

uniforms with gold epaulets and turbans, fancy shops (not

Air with a short layover in Switzerland. I dutifully took my pill

open in the middle of the night), and beautiful rooms with

at takeoff, and when we landed in Switzerland, I couldn’t wake

sparkling bathrooms. Mary Palmer thought it would be a good

up. I have a vague memory of Mary Palmer shepherding me

idea for us to spend a couple of nights in Mumbai to adjust

down an escalator, feeling kind of nauseated, and then

before we headed to the Institute.

boarding another plane. This was to be the cushiest part of my journey, and already I couldn’t have made it alone.

After sleeping for only a few hours, I jumped out of bed so I could go outside and see what it was like. There were small

Nothing can adequately prepare you for the airport in Mumbai,

shops everywhere selling old silver bracelets and even one

which at that time was very rundown and smelled from years

weird coral necklace with tigers’ teeth between the corals.

of mildew and squat toilets seldom properly cleaned. We

(I don’t know where I put that one.) The streets were teaming

arrived in the middle of the night, but the streets were full of

with vendors. I went to see the gate of India only to discover

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


Early Days At RIMYI Guruji started our mornings with dropbacks from Sirsasana and then followed them with 1976 International General Intensive (Photo by Lindsey Clennell)


Sunrise was the place to go for cereal or omelets. If you wanted something Western, you could find it there. We were expected to rest and take it easy during the day, and then we went back to the Institute for our late afternoon pranayama classes. Sometimes we stayed and took Geeta’s class at 6 p.m. if Guruji thought it was a good idea. We were not allowed to write anything down during classes, and there were no tapes available, so most of us spent a

that there were drug dealers everywhere approaching any foreigner who happened to be in their territory. I took a boat to

good deal of time writing notes in groups. It wasn’t until the

Elephanta, which was fun and full of trash and monkeys. I

Japanese students started to come to the Institute that people

walked into the Taj Hotel, which at the time was just the old

were given permission to tape the classes—but still not us

section, and it was charming and beautiful. But like everyone

Westerners. Guruji was full of high energy and sometimes

else in our group, I was anxious to get to Pune.

started our mornings with drop-backs from Sirsasana and then followed them with Mandalasana. This was our introduction to

Finally we got on the road in a series of taxis. The road proved

classes at the Institute.

to be narrow with a broken up surface, and it was extremely dusty because this was the dry season. There were no super

While riding to class, it was not uncommon to see people taking

highways. It took more than five hours to get there, and our

their morning baths and going to the bathroom across the

first and only roadside stop was at a small outpost, with the

street from the large slum we passed on our way. A huge

usual unspeakable toilet facilities, where they offered some sort

bellows that was larger than the huts was used to get fires

of cooked food that we were all afraid to eat. We were all really

going. The air was filled with heavy smoke so that by the time

glad when we reached the Amir Hotel, which was not near the

we got to the Institute, it seemed like we were in the suburbs. It

Institute at all but down in the “camp” area. Why there, you

was not uncommon when riding back at night to see large rats.

might ask? It was the only hotel in town that had bathtubs,

One time when I was coming back from a friend’s apartment,

which Mary Palmer felt were more important than proximity.

I saw a rat the size of a large rabbit! Which reminds me of

There have been several times since that I wished I’d had the

another story.

same priorities. After my experience with the Amir where I stayed in 1976 and Like so many things in Pune, the Amir Hotel no longer exists.

1978, I switched to the Agit Hotel, which was across the street

The Pune we saw then is almost completely gone. India’s ’70s

from the Deccan Gymkanna Club. Here Patricia Walden, Victor

and ’80s streets were filled with cows or wandering members of

Oppenheimer, and a large contingent of English yoga teachers

a water buffalo herd that lived near the Institute. Getting to and

stayed for many years. We paid $7 a night, and it was a

from the Amir Hotel required a rickshaw ride of 15 to 20

25-minute walk to the Institute, which we often had to do if we

minutes, depending on how many times we had to stop for

couldn’t find rickshaws at 6:30 a.m. I actually loved those walks

cows or sheep or goats on the roads. Today it can take 45

because it brought us into contact with the old British

minutes to an hour to make the same trip.

bungalows built with stone in the Saracenic architecture style, which still exists in Mumbai. We also encountered vegetable

In those days, we went to intensives that were taught by Guruji

vendors who came by with their bullock carts early in the

himself. Classes would start at 7 a.m. and usually finish around

morning and later in the afternoon when we were on our way

10 a.m., when many of us would rush off to Vaishali’s or the

back to the Institute.

Sunrise café to get breakfast. Vaishali’s, which is actually still there, served Indian food in a lovely garden setting that had

While staying at the Ajit Hotel in 1981, two rats buried

tables with large umbrellas to shield you from the weather. The

themselves in my pillow, which I didn’t discover until I leaned


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

back. They immediately jumped out squealing and started

December or January was at its best quality of the year. Because

running around the room. I went down the hall to ask my

there were very few cars in Pune, we didn’t suffer from street

friend Victor to come in and help, but he started shrieking his

noise and could easily hear everything that was being said.

head off and jumped on the other bed when he saw the rats.

There were no burning leaves outside the windows of the

Patricia came out into the hall and started shrieking as well.

Institute. Bicycles were the mode of choice for 99 percent of the

There I was, totally traumatized, having to calm the two of

population. Several of us rented bicycles at least once to get around.

them down, while the rats, terrified of Victor, were running around trying to get out of the room.

The population of Pune in the 1970s was a mere 250,000 as opposed to the 5 million who live there today. The only five-star

Apparently, the rats had climbed a tree behind my bathroom

hotel was the Blue Diamond, built mostly out of wood that was

window, which, of course, was broken, and had come in that

painted blue. It took about 15 minutes to get there. A group of

way. When I called down to the front desk to get someone to

us would go there on Sunday mornings for brunch, which

come up and do something, they said, “Yes, madame. Coming,

mostly consisted of baked beans on toast or some sort of egg

madame. It is only rats, madame. We will be coming soon,

combination. For those of you who have not been to Pune:

madame. Try to remain calm.” They finally showed up with a

Because of the terrible traffic and intense pollution, it now

piece of cardboard to shoo the rats out, and then covered the

takes 45 minutes to get to the camp area and about the same to

broken window with the same piece of cardboard and some

get to the Blue Diamond area.

tape. “There madame, now you can go back to bed. They are gone now.” The next morning I insisted on moving despite their

One of the things I miss the most about Guruji’s intensives,

assurances about the efficacy of the cardboard.

apart from his extraordinary teachings, was the makeup of those classes. Forty people from around the globe were gathered

We sometimes went up on the roof of the hotel to take

to study with him. He corrected each of us individually in Salamba

advantage of the sun, and we would find nearly the entire

Sarvangasana. He demonstrated our mistakes on his body first,

contingent of British teachers up there as well. That lasted until

and if we weren’t getting it, he would take one of us up on the

the mid-’80s when Geeta announced that if anyone showed up

stage and demonstrate how and where to change what that

to class with “a changed color,” she would throw them out.

student was doing. We would then go back and repeat.

Little did we know that she was saving our skins, literally. As a result of the diversity of the intensives, many of us formed Those Saracenic stone bungalows no longer exist nor do the

life-long friendships with yogis all over the world. I am so

fields across the street from the Institute. The beautiful banyan

grateful to have had the opportunity to have met so many

trees that lined Fergusson College Road were torn down 15

wonderful people. Here are just a few of the people I remember

years ago. Pune was a beautiful city in the early days. University

meeting during those early years: Lillian Biggs, Lindsey and

students could be seen sitting outside on the grounds of their

Bobby Clennell, Mary Dunn, Angela Farmer, John Floris and his

colleges. There were no high-rises or malls, and the air in

beautiful wife Maria, Beverly Graves, Martin Jackson, Judith Lasater, Manouso and Rita Manos, Jean Maslow, Mira Mehta, Shaym Mehta, Silva Mehta, Victor Oppenheimer, Lisa Schwartz, Clay Soren and Nanda, his then partner, Karin Stephen, Peter Thompson, Victor Van Kooten and his wife Annameeka, Patricia Walden, and Judith from Bern, Switzerland.

Joan White has been a student of the Iyengars since 1973 and received her advanced certification from B.K.S. Iyengar in 1993. She gives workshops and classes all over the states and in Europe, and also runs the B.K.S. Iyengar yoga school of Central Philadelphia. She has an active teacher-training program at her school. She served for six and a half years as the national certification chair, served on the IYNAUS board, and has served continuously on the ethics committee since 2000. She was the first recipient of the Lighting the Way award. 1976: Guruji adjusting a student while he teaches Jalandhara Bandha. You can see the dust on the floor. (Photo by Lindsey Clennell) Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


Early Days At RIMYI

First Impressions By Bobby Clennell


made my first journey to RIMYI in 1976 with my husband, Lindsey, and our two sons, Miles and Jake, who were 10 and 5 at the time. Lindsey and I have been back 20 or so times since then, but the memory of that first trip has remained

the strongest in my mind: The colors, sounds, smells, and tastes of India that year made a lasting impression on my senses. Most important and profound was the impact of Mr. Iyengar’s teaching. I had never met a teacher who

1976: Guruji, Geetaji, and Prashantji always practiced their inversions together in the late afternoon, before the evening class. You can see the white dust on the sole of Guruji’s foot and all over the mats from the polishing and smoothing of the marble floor. (Photo by Lindsey Clennell)

demanded—and received—such undivided attention. When

was confined to the portion of the floor that was dry. Guruji

Guruji teaches, his eyes are everywhere. In his classes, he

sternly announced that no one, NO ONE, was to drop one of the

demands that one remain on the very edge of the moment.

new white blankets onto the wet portion of the floor. This was

It is interesting to experience his teaching now, in February

nerve-racking. I was so nervous that I dropped my blanket right

2013, and compare it with what I remember of his teaching

into one of the puddles. I froze. The entire class froze. Guruji

40 years ago. Now he teaches through his granddaughter,

looked furious. Finally, my dear husband, Lindsey, stepped

Abhijata. In the ladies’ class, she hears his voice but you

forward, lifted the blanket out of the water, took me by the

don’t. Strictly speaking, this is his practice time; he begins

hand, and led me over to a dry spot. The class resumed.

curved over the Viparita Dandasana bench. If you glance over to his practice area at the end of the class, however,

It was entirely different at RIMYI in the ’70s. I found Guruji both

you see that he is now standing and watching the class.

alarming (make that terrifying) and utterly charismatic. He is

What hasn’t changed is his absolute mastery as a teacher.

still both, but now I understand him better. In those days, Guruji was addressed as “Sir.” In fact, I still find myself calling

Guruji’s language, then and now, is pure poetry. Later Geetaji

him “Sir.” Then as now, when he taught, he bypassed gender,

came along and taught in a way that made his teachings more

age, and class. He demanded that all participate. All were

easily and clearly understood, and that was marvelous. We

subject to his penetrating attention. Most educational

began to absorb the information differently. But Guruji’s

institutions I had attended had been happy to allow me to hide.

instructions somehow bypassed the logical, computing brain,

Now I had to come out from the shadows.

going straight to our innermost being. After each of those early trips, I would return to London with the sensation of floating—

I remember every correction, every admonishment, and every

and this would last for a good six months.

adjustment. We had pushed up into what was, I think, our sixth Urdhva Dhanurasana. I was struggling to hold the pose. A voice

I remembered a large group at the first intensive I attended.

from above roared, “Don’t die yet! You have two children. Stay up!!”

Now, looking at an old photograph, I realize it was small, certainly compared with the number of students in the asana

Once Guruji corrected my Ardha Chandrasana. In retrospect, I

hall these days. This past February, there were 200 students,

think he was being fairly gentle, as he said, “You are a

and it took 15–20 minutes to seat everyone. Various methods

beginner aren’t you?” My pose was corrected for the benefit

were employed to make room: “Has anyone attended a class

of the group. That day at lunch with some of the students, I

already today—even the medical class?” “Does anyone have a

cried and cried. It was such a strong experience. I was

bad cold? Is anyone coughing? OUT!!”

absolutely overwhelmed. All I can tell you is that I went back the following year. I knew I had to.

During that first intensive, the Institute had only just been built, so some things were not quite finished, and the marble

Backbends, Balancings, and Props

floor was being polished. When classes weren’t meeting, huge,

The teaching was exciting and strong and instilled much

circular grinding machines were run over the wet floor again

confidence into us students. A men’s class was taught by Mr.

and again to produce the shine that we see to this day. Class

Shar. It was a tough class, but women who were strong enough


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

During one restorative class, we held Urdhva Dhanurasana for an incredible seven minutes.

were welcome. Shar also taught

Guruji, Geetaji, and Prashantji, to discuss the interface of

some of the regular classes.

medicine and yoga. Prashant organized a photo shoot depicting

During one restorative class, we

the use of props for various ailments. The photos were

held Urdhva Dhanurasana for an

displayed giving us teachers our first solid guidelines on yoga

incredible seven minutes.

for medical uses. These pictures were crude by the standard of today’s teachings, but that event was another of those turning

In back-bending classes, Guruji would line everyone up in a row

points in Iyengar Yoga history.

and drop each person back from

Colored Paper, Chips, and a Conch Shell

Tadasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana.

I was working with a team of volunteers to decorate the

I was beginning to come out of

Institute on the eve of a celebration. It was late. We were sitting

my shell. It worked for me—I

on the floor, cutting large mandalas out of colored paper. The

was only 30 years old. He made

floor of the Institute was strewn with paper, glue, scissors,

you do things you didn’t imagine

pencils, and the like. A pair of feet that was unmistakably

you were capable of. There were

Guruji’s appeared in front of me. Guruji disappeared, then

fast-moving and very lively

moments later, tea and little bowls of desert were brought to

jumping sessions led by Guruji. There was so much

each worker. Another year, I was making paper cutouts of yoga

laughter and so much happiness in those jumping

poses as decoration for another celebration. Guruji appeared


again and began correcting my drawings. At the opening of the original London Institute, one of my cutout decorations was of

One year we stayed for two months. Between intensives, we

RIMYI. Guruji wanted to make sure that I included the

were taught in small classes of eight or nine. That’s where I

Hanuman statue that rests atop the building.

learned the balancing poses. Although this was a profound experience, I didn’t really understand then just how special

For our first two or three trips, Lindsey and I stayed at the Ajit

those tiny classes were.

Hotel, Deccan Gymkhana. On that first trip, much to my children’s annoyance, I had brought to Pune brown rice, miso

In the early days, there were fewer props, but over the years, the

paste, umaboshi (salted) plums, and Japanese rice noodles—all

prop collection expanded and developed. In 1988, a medical

the ingredients needed to make macrobiotic meals. I was in my

symposium was staged. Up on the platform, an assortment of

macrobiotic phase (later came vegetarianism, raw food, and

doctors and healthcare practitioners assembled, along with

sprouted, “living” food). I prepared our macrobiotic meals on a one-ring burner, purchased locally, on the floor of our hotel room. Our children ate very little of this. Because they were still hungry, we would then take them to the Pune Coffee House (no longer in existence), for finger chips (deep fried potatoes), which they dipped into sugary, tomato ketchup. Among my most treasured memories of those early days was how much access we had to the Iyengar family. Mr. Iyengar would often come and join the group for a meal in a hotel or a restaurant. At the end of each intensive, we would be invited to a meal in the reception area of the Institute served to us by Geeta and some of her sisters. Geeta would urge us to eat more, especially the delicious and syrupy gulab jamun, which she assured us would heal us of practically any ailment. One evening, a group of students, including our sons, Miles and Jake, were sitting in Guruji’s house. Guruji began talking about the conch shell that lay on a cabinet. Not everyone would be

1976: Guruji adjusts a student’s head in a supported variation of Viparita Dandasana as Prashant looks on. (Photo by Lindsey Clennell) Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

able to get a sound out of it, he said. Guruji explained that the


Early Days At RIMYI conch, or shankha shell, is used as an important ritual object in the Vedic tradition. It is an auspicious instrument and is often played in pujas in temples or homes. Vishnu, the god of preservation, is said to hold a special conch that represents life because it came out of life-giving waters. The sound of the conch is believed to drive away evil spirits. Blowing the conch requires tremendous respiratory power. Blowing it daily helps keep the lungs healthy. Guruji blew into it, and a long, low, melodious note emerged. He passed it around the room, and no one else could get a sound. Finally, Guruji passed it to 10-year-old Miles. Miles put it to his lips and blew. The sound was beautiful! Guruji laughed and laughed. His eyes twinkled. A young boy was drawn into a group that he had been somewhat on the outside of and made to feel welcome and validated. It was a wonderful moment. Bobby Clennell (Intermediate Senior II) is the author and illustrator of The Women’s Yoga Book and Watch Me Do Yoga. 1976: Guruji adjusts the head and shoulders of a student in supported Savasana. Perhaps the thick mat that has been rolled up for support pre-dates bolsters? (Photo by Lindsey Clennell)


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

diary excerpts

Gifts From the Source By Sharon Conroy


lthough I began to practice in the Iyengar tradition in 1986, I studied at RIMYI only twice during the first 17 years. A variety of seemingly sound reasons kept me away—work, family, finances. Then, two life-changing

events—a brother’s death and hurricane Katrina—inspired me to reevaluate how I spend my time and what’s most important to me. Since 2005, I’ve studied at RIMYI annually. Doing so has transformed my practice as well as my teaching. The primary thing I cherish about these visits is being taught by a member of the Iyengar family. Their instructions are precise, and their language is both potent and elegant in its

I’ve heard

Sometimes, the gift I take home from RIMYI is from a class. At other

Geetaji say

times, it’s something that I’ve heard Guruji say when he breaks from his

more than

own practice to teach a longtime student who is working nearby.

once, “I give you the clues; the work is

Over the years, again and again, I’ve heard Guruji lament that even his most senior students work mechanically and practice “yesterday’s pose” today. Instead, he

simplicity. Their words transform the mind as well as the body.


A few years ago, throughout a backbend class, Geetaji brought

actions we give our body as well as observe our own habits and

our attention to various places in the body and asked us to

tendencies. Only then can we refine our poses and, over time,

“sanctify” those places with our presence. With one well-chosen

change the tendencies and habits that work against us.

wants each of us to be absolutely present and see the effects of the

word, she transformed the way our minds received the actions she was giving our body.

Working this way takes tremendous curiosity and discipline, both of which appear to abound in our beloved Guruji, even at

Years later, I still treasure Geetaji’s use of the word “sanctify.”

the age of 94! While there is no question in my mind that I’m a

While it’s true that my mind spreads and penetrates inward

beginner, the reminder I hear year after year at RIMYI—to see

whenever I’m able to maintain multiple actions in the body

the effects of the actions I give my body—has inspired and

simultaneously, my practice takes me even deeper when I can,

informed my practice and teaching more than any other

at the same time, see myself as sanctifying the body with my

treasure I have

presence. By working in this manner, we transform the body

received there.

and the mind. And, in our daily lives, we begin to live in the sacred fullness of the present moment.

Most recently, the gifts I’ve brought

The Iyengar family’s teachings abound with such treasures. In

home come from

1998, the first time I visited RIMYI, I recall Prashantji saying in

classes that

almost every class, “You people are always doing, doing, doing.

Abhijata teaches

Asana is a state of being, not a state of doing.” In a similar, and

with Guruji

at the same time different way, this teaching transformed the

guiding her from

mind with which I practiced asana. With just 12 years of

the sidelines. In

experience, I was very focused on maintaining and refining the

December 2011,

actions I was given by teachers. I had not been asked, nor had it

we were given

occurred to me, to simply “be” in a pose. However, Prashantji

simple actions for

was inviting me, at some point in the practice of each asana, to

the feet that I

make a conscious decision that I had done all that I could do

practiced and

and, maintaining the actions, simply be in the pose receiving


the effects of what I had created. Like Geetaji’s use of the word

throughout 2012.

“sanctify,” from the moment I heard Prashantji’s perspective on

What amazed

practicing asana, it began to inspire my practice and has been a

and delighted me

gateway into the spaciousness and silence within.

all year was the Guruji in the library (Photo by Tori Milner)

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


diary excerpts I had not been asked, nor had it occurred to me, to simply “be” in a pose.

way such seemingly basic actions

persist and am committed to working toward that end,

could “intelligize” the entire leg. I

slowly but surely.

call such actions elegant because while they are simple, when used intelligently, their effects are farreaching, making other leg actions superfluous. Even my tendency to

I.14 sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih

hyperextend the knees is corrected because the actions in

Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for

the feet have the effect of sucking

restraining the fluctuations.

the back of the calf into the bone. In addition, the defects in my right leg show up clearly as I attempt to find the actions in my

When we are fortunate enough to study with the Iyengar

right foot. Could these actions be one of the missing puzzle

family at RIMYI, above all else, they teach us how to practice.

pieces for me? Can I become as proficient with them in my

May we work with dedication and discipline and put their

right foot as I am in the left?

potent and eloquently spoken words to good use back home.

As I’ve heard Geetaji say more than once, “I give you the clues;

Sharon Conroy (Intermediate Junior III) founded the Iyengar Yoga

the work is yours!” I don’t know how many years it will take to

community in New Orleans where she once more resides and teaches.

make my right leg as intelligent as the left, but I intend to

Her email address is

Finding the Grill By Vicky Grogg


froze when I heard the words “Adho Mukha Vrksasana.” Still sitting after the invocation, my deepest fear about classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute had come true: the call to do full arm balance.

The pose simply scares me. My failed attempts to kick into full arm balance have left me injured, and more than once, my frustration has escalated to the point of making me want to

The outside gate and Institute building with Vicky in the foreground, standing on the opposite side of the street (Photo by Keith Morese)

quit my yoga practice altogether. As I considered a trip to Pune to study at the Iyengar Institute, one of the first things I noticed

With this knowledge firmly planted in my mind, I thought I was

was that full arm balance was not on the list of required poses.

prepared for my first class taught by B.K.S. Iyengar and his granddaughter, Abhijata. I was wrong. When full arm balance

Still worried about the dreaded pose as I prepared for my

was called, any glimpse I had at contentment, or santosha, was

month-long trip, I talked to several people who had studied at

lost. I simultaneously feared the pose, desperately wanted to

RIMYI. I always asked them, “What if I can’t go up into full arm

find the ladies at the grill, and wished I could run out of the

balance?” Everyone told me to simply go to the back of the

room unnoticed.

room near “the grill.” The grill is a grid of metal bars that cover the windows at the Institute. There, I could join a group of

After taking a couple of deep breaths to try and calm myself, I

Indian ladies who need help kicking up at the wall. Most people

looked toward the back of the room for the ladies. From my

reassuringly added, “It’s no big deal.”

position near the props room, I could only see Guruji, upside-


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Vicky’s paper schedule for her month at the Institute, with class and practice times (Photo by Vicky Grogg)

…one of the first things I noticed was that full arm balance was not on the list of required poses.

down in a deep

women, and I lifted one leg to the wall. Instead


of feeling a metal bar, the back of my ankle

backbend. He

caught a curtain rod that protruded about

was in front of

five inches from the wall, just above the grill.

what looked like

Another kink in my plans.

a grill on the wall. Now

Before I could revert to full panic mode, one of the ladies

quietly panicking, I decided it

reassured me it was okay and encouraged me to lift my second

probably wasn’t a good idea to

leg to the curtain rod. It actually didn’t feel okay, instead it was

move anywhere near Mr.

quite wobbly, but at this point, I was simply relieved to find the

Iyengar’s practice space.

ladies and finally make it into a modified version of full arm balance.

As I froze, the class turned into a

Fortunately, the full arm balance gathering area shifted to a

chaotic dance of people taking

slightly different area during each class, so the curtain rod was

turns hurling themselves at walls while others scrambled to

not always in my way. Throughout the month, I found myself

find space or avoid getting kicked. A stray foot that breezed by

relaxing and even looking forward to the pose. I knew exactly

my head brought me out of my daze. I quickly stepped through

where to go and what to do. And most of all, I enjoyed being in

the crowd of about 125 students and frantically searched the

a group where everyone took turns with the pose, gave

room for the ladies at the grill. When the teachers shouted

encouragement while telling you if you were straight or

instructions for students to switch places at the wall, I kept my

crooked, and assumed the all-important job of holding the

arms in my best Gomukhasana and pretended that I had

horse in place.

already gone up into the pose. It turns out that walking up the grill with the ladies who The room at the Institute is curved. On one side of the back

regularly take classes at RIMYI was a real privilege. I had a

wall, women who are menstruating gather together for class so

glimpse into an everyday aspect of classes that most students

that teachers can identify them and instruct them in alternate

who come from other countries don’t get to see, all while

poses. When Guruji is there, he’s on the opposite side of the

working at my own pace. And that, after all, was a big deal.

room. From where I stood, all I could see were menstruating ladies and Guruji.

Vicky Grogg was hooked on yoga after taking her first class in the Iyengar tradition in 1996. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her

Continuing the charade of pretending I had already gone into

husband, dog, and two cats.

full arm balance, I moved toward the middle of the floor. Here I finally spotted the ladies at the grill, a small group pressed into a corner behind the menstruation section. Relieved, I let go of my Gomukhasana arms and hustled over to them. I saw they were taking turns kicking up from a large wooden horse to a metal grill that covered the windows. A new fear silenced me. I expected to face the wall and walk up the grill backwards, a much easier move for me than having my back toward the wall while lifting one leg at a time from a free-standing wooden horse. The ladies ignored me. Not knowing what else to do, I stood quietly until one woman looked at me and hesitated before saying, “Do you want to try?” I took my turn and did my best to imitate what I saw the other ladies doing. I placed my hands on the floor, took both of my feet to the wooden horse that needed to be held in place by two Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

Vicky and Nana, the infamous rickshaw driver who caters to Institute students (Photo by Keith Morese) 19

diary excerpts

Traveling to India: Two Trips in One By Siegfried Bleher


raveling to India is never simple; at least it hasn’t been for me in three trips. In my experience, a single trip has so many dimensions that it can feel like at least

cultivating wisdom.

Thursday, Nov. 4—A Day Off From Classes

two separate trips in one: the physical relocation to a

different part of the world and the psychological adjustments

No class today. The Institute is getting ready for Patanjali

that this entails, plus the immersion into the deep ocean that is

Jayatri, a celebration of Patanjali just before Diwali festivities. I

the Iyengar method at its source. I will share just a few journal

took a walk through a park near the Institute and enjoyed the

entries from a blog I wrote while in Pune during the month of

quiet of the park as well as the exotic trees and plants. That

November 2010 ( I was able to go

was good preparation for what came next—a stroll to Fergusson

to India through the generosity of a scholarship from the

College Road, one of the busiest in Pune.

Southeast Region (IYASE) and many kind friends.

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010—First Day of Classes

In the evening, two of Guruji’s students spoke. The first on yoga sutra I.1: atha yoga anusasanam, the other on sutra I.2: yogas citta

Actually the first day of classes was Monday, Nov. 1. Mine was

vrtti nirodhah. Then Guruji spoke about the aim of yoga, how we

Nov. 2 because I was laid out the first day by gastritis. My

may touch each layer of the being through asana, to reach the

landlady took me on the back of a scooter to a local hospital

soul, to recognize the expansive nature of our minds, to come

Monday morning after it reached a crescendo. But I was well

to realize cosmic consciousness. We begin by spreading our

enough by Tuesday morning to attend class. No matter what

minds evenly throughout our bodies. [March 2013: I remember

anyone else tells you, don’t try gastritis—not at all recommended.

feeling transfixed while Guruji spoke, as though he had created an environment outside of time during which I could absorb his

First class with Prashant—excellent metaphors to teach us not to get too much into performing poses and actions for their

words and his presence. I think this is a glimpse of yoga!]

own sake, or automatically and dogmatically. See the poses as

Monday, Nov. 8—Class with Prashant

ways of culturing the breath and the mind. Be aware of the

Discern between “I” and “mind” when you practice. Use the

action you are performing, where it is initiated, what its

breath in different modes, for example, as an agent for acting

purpose is, and what its benefits are: Notice which are the

on the body, for acting on the mind, or as the recipient of action

benefactors, beneficiaries, and benefits for each action. This

performed by the mind and by the body. Prashant calls the

makes practice less about the body, more about the mind and

breath “participant” when it is an agent or benefactor; when it

The front of the RIMYI main hall during Patanjali Jayatri (Photo by Siegfried Bleher) 20

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

It seems to take at least a week to sort out all the things that are needed to be able to settle into a routine…

is a recipient or beneficiary, he calls it “adjusted.” We tend to practice only as participants (doers), which over time wears out our bodies. We need to include an equal amount of “adjustedness” in the pose, which means instead of doing, we are “done.” There is a rhythm in the shift between using the breath in its participatory role, especially on the strong exhalation (he calls it “uddiyanic breath”), and in its role

Shopping on Laxmi Road (Photo by Siegfried Bleher)

as adjusted/done/beneficiary on the inhalation. The shift is to

May 17, 2011—Follow-up Six Months Later

exhale more forcefully, using the breath to act on the body, then

It has been six months since I returned from Pune. It didn’t take

let the breath be done and adjusted while you use the body in

long to get used to being home, but there was adjustment—

its role as agency or participant to maintain the “doneness” of

mostly getting back up to speed after having a very different

the breath. While going through the rhythm of this cycle, be

pace in India.

aware of the difference between your mind, which perceives, organizes, and shifts the focus to deepen the embodiment, and

What remains after six months, or at least what is most

your “self”—the “I”—which is present and unperturbed by the

noticeable to me, is the feeling that I am more deeply

flows within this cycle. Don’t practice “postures,” which is just

integrating what I learned there into my practice and teaching.

practicing for the body, but practice “asanas,” which is practicing

For example, what does Prashant mean by “uddiyana kriya”? As I

for your entire embodiment (mind, breath, body, emotions).

understand Prashant’s instructions, uddiyana kriya is the

Thursday, Nov. 11—A Day of Routine It seems to take at least a week to sort out all the things that

practice of exhaling deeply and forcefully, as one might during the initial stage of uddiyana bandha. But instead of completing the bandha by holding the exhaled breath out—bahiya

are needed to be able to settle into a routine—paying for

kumbhaka—we perform only the action (kriya) of exhaling

classes, moving into an apartment (which is often a few days

sharply, without holding the breath. This serves the purpose of

after arriving), figuring out Internet access, getting money

deepening the links between the actions in the legs and hips

exchanged into rupees, figuring out where to buy groceries,

and those in the arms and trunk. Such links then become

etc. And then there is the need to adjust to the class and

evident in both pranayama and asana.

practice schedule: If you take a class from 7–9 a.m., and practice time is 9 a.m.–noon, then you’d better figure on

I also realize what a tremendous gift it is to be able to travel to

having a good breakfast before class or doing lots of

Pune and learn from the Iyengars.

restoratives at practice time. Or what I have been doing is going back to my apartment, having a second breakfast, then returning to the Institute for a 2-hour practice. This only

Siegfried Bleher (Intermediate Junior III) runs Inner Life Yoga Studio

works if you are very close to the Institute.

with his wife Kimberly in Morgantown, West Virginia. He is also a physicist who lectures at West Virginia University and is interested in

So by now I have the comfort and predictability of routine—or I

the physics of nonduality. He is currently writing a book on the

should say some routine preceding the inevitable unexpected

“Science of Breath” and another on “Yoga as Transformation.”

thing. [March 2013: The best change in my thinking came in the third week when I came to accept that I was in Pune not to catch up on unfinished projects from home but to fully experience being in Pune and at the Institute.]

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


History and Highlights of the Pune Guide By Denise Weeks


obby Clennell went to Pune

“So much has changed in Pune in the past 40 years,” Bobby

for the first time 40 years

reflected, “changed beyond belief.” Now you can find organic

ago. It was “a great leap in

food and toilet paper, for instance. The modern world has made

the dark,” Bobby recalled.

its way in. “The only thing that hasn’t changed is the Institute.”

“You were going as far away from

Though the guide is full of tips for shopping and travel and how

Western civilization as you could go.”

to get connected via email and the Internet, the experience of

Twenty trips later, she can still feel

going to the Institute is still about the yoga. Bobby said, “It’s not

some of that early terror—like when

a spa; it’s authentic.” And when you go there, they expect you to

you arrive at the airport and wonder what you’ll do if your cab

give (if you are certified at a level that qualifies you to help in

driver doesn’t show up. To help ease the fears and make the

the medical classes, for example) “in the same way they give.”

trip more accessible for the roughly 2,000 students who make their way the Institute every year, Bobby put together an

“You need to go,” Bobby said. “You need to see it in context.”

invaluable resource: the Pune Guide.

Bobby’s words and the encyclopedic guide are certainly encouraging. She said, “Everyone comes back transformed.”

Available online at, the guide began as a short document, just a few pages long,

Enticing Tips From the 2013 Pune Guide

nearly 15 years ago. As it grew in length and scope, the guide

Preparing to go: In your visa application or interview, do not

continued to reflect Bobby’s interest in having something very

mention that you’re going to study yoga or take classes; always

practical, organized, and up-to-date. Now 73 pages long, the

state that you are a tourist. If consulate officials learn you’re

guide provides details on everything from visa requirements

studying yoga, they will assign you an (X) visa for yoga or Vedic

and lodging to where you can have a bolster cover made. Each

studies, which requires you to register within two weeks of your

entry provides as much contact information as possible,

arrival in India, with the Foreign Registry Office (FRO) at the

including, in some cases, walking directions that use familiar

Pune Police Commissioner, where you’ll receive a Residential

landmarks such as “facing the Commonwealth Building, down

Permit. If you don’t register there, you may have trouble later

a small alley, next to the night dresses. It’s the second tailor

on leaving the country. [Page 6]

upstairs on the right.”

Simple things that bear repeating: When calling RIMYI, Pandu, Bobby updates the guide every year when she goes to Pune and

tel (91-20) 2565 6134, may be reached during the following

asks for input from fellow travelers as well as local Indian

hours: From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and

service providers. The

Friday; and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday,

information in the guide is

and Saturday. [Page 40]

democratic, Bobby said. It belongs to the community;

The “What to Bring” list, with these helpful details: Look for

she is not judgmental

RIMYI on Google Earth. Print out a map of the immediate area,

about what people submit

especially the triangle between Ferguson College Road and

for inclusion. She hasn’t

University Ave. The neighborhood is not laid out on a grid and

had time to develop

can be disorienting. [Page 8]

anything like a rating system, but she would be

Glue stick. Envelopes do not come with glue on the flap;

happy to delegate some of

likewise, stamps are not provided with glue—and post office

the work of maintaining

glue is not reliable. [Page 8]

and developing the guide to those who’d take

Helpful “Just in Case” options: If your ride to Pune fails to show,

responsibility for some

there is a reliable car service that operates out of Mumbai

specific part of the task

Airport. As you leave customs, the “Authorized” (not yellow) cab

(editing, for example, or

office is on the right-hand side. [Page 14]

checking phone numbers, which seem to change Pune Central, the eight-story shopping center just around the corner from the Institute (Photo by Vicky Grogg) 22

“every five minutes”).

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Protocols at the Institute:

Editors note: When booking your apartment,

A request to “alternate yourself” means that

ask your landlord or landlady if the apartment

the person in the center vertical line in front

has Wi-Fi. If it doesn’t, move on! It’s common

of the platform should lie with his or her

for apartments to offer Wi-Fi these days. [Page

head toward the platform and the persons


to the left and right of him or her should lie The Ambassador Hotel provides Internet access

with their heads facing in the opposite

at 200 rupees per use, and although it’s

direction of the center person. [Page 29] When observing Guruji in the practice sessions, please do not take notes! [Page 32]

Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, one collector’s extensive and eclectic collection of folkloric and spiritual artifacts from all parts of India (Photo by Bobby Clennell)

expensive, it saves you a trip to the Reliance on Fergusson College Road, where you pay a fixed rate of 300 rupees each time you log on. [Page 42]

Tell an assistant that you are menstruating as soon as you

Getting around Pune in an auto rickshaw: Auto rickshaw driver

arrive at class. Do not join the class if you are having your

Nana is recommended by Iyengar students. He speaks English

period and then drop out during inversions, i.e., don’t wait until

and is reliable and punctual if a booking time is confirmed. If

Sirsasana to tell someone you have your period. It is very distressing

the time is not confirmed, and you are told to call him “when

to Geetaji when someone decides they don’t need to be “on the

you are ready” be aware that he may not be available when you

side.” This is considered very rude. [Page 31]

call. He also can arrange for airport transfers and take you to unfamiliar locations in Pune, and he’ll wait while you sightsee,

Do not leave the hall until all the props are put back in the

shop, etc. He charges metered rates. Nana has made many

closet and the windows closed. Endeavor to put away more

“foreign friends.” On one occasion, he took some teachers on a

props than you used. This will ensure that cleanup is quick and

Sunday morning, out-of-town, bird-watching expedition. [Page 33]

easy. [Page 30]

Simple pointers about food, as well as a long list of restaurants: Sticky mats are very valuable in Pune and the Institute takes

Vegetarian food in India includes milk and milk products, but

great care to preserve them. Do not place wooden props or

not eggs, which along with seafood are considered to be

chairs on them. And do not fold the thick mats, even when

nonvegetarian. Prepackaged foods are marked with either a red

carrying them or putting them on the floor. Many students

or green dot in a square frame, denoting non-vegetarian and

bring their own sticky mats and donate them to the Institute at

vegetarian food, respectively. [Page 52]

the end of their stay, and this is much appreciated. [Page 30] There is a large vegetable

Everything you need to get online and stay in touch: The RIMYI

market, which is fairly

will ask you for a passport-sized photo of yourself. Bring a few

amazing, called Mandai

if you are thinking of purchasing a cell phone card or dongle

market. It is located next

device for the Internet in Pune. [Page 8]

to Tulsi Baugh. The architecture of the

You can use your GSM cell phone internationally, but it is

building the market is in is

cheaper to buy a local SIM card (this is the chip that gives you

also interesting. The

phone service). A store assistant at a cell phone store can

vendors inside are more

unlock your cell phone to enable you to use an Indian SIM card,

expensive while the

but it is more reliable to do so at home before you go. You pay

quality inside and outside

about 20 rupees for the SIM and then the same number of

seem to be the same. The

rupees per minute, so if you pay 375 rupees, you get 375 local

best days to go are

minutes. Be sure to ask for “full talk time” when buying

Saturday and early Sunday,

minutes. When you call outside the country, the rupees-to-

as early as 8 a.m. In Tulsi

minutes ratio increases. In 2012, it cost about 12 cents a minute

Baugh, one can find

to call the U.S. from a cell phone. [Page 40]

almost anything. It gets extremely busy on the Jake Clennell relaxes in the foyer of the Chetak Hotel. (Photo by Bobby Clennell)

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


weekends. Most stores open at 10 a.m., which is the best time

extra. Speaks good English,

to go. Most shops will close from noon to 4 p.m. generally.

and his work is excellent.

[Page 59]

Sticks to deadlines. The student who recommends

Places to visit in Pune:

him has been going to him for

A must see for those interested in the cultural history of Pune

25 years. [Page 66]

and beyond: Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, one collector’s extensive and eclectic collection of folkloric and spiritual artifacts from all parts of India. Website: http://www. rajakelkarmuseum. com/index.asp. [Page 34]

More shopping—everything you could want, plus tips on getting it all home: Bagwan Aum Market. Laxmi Road

Parvrati Hill. A collection of about five temples high up on

(next to the Commonwealth

Parvrati Hill. The best time to go is 5 p.m., when the sun is

building). A great collection of

down. At the top, you can see the whole of Pune. It’s a

dupattas and scarves—a

15-minute rickshaw ride from the Institute. [Page 34]

veritable feast for the eyes. Bring anything you want to color

Geeta Bhojwani, owner of Arnav (Photo by Bobby Clennell)

match. Second from the last shop on the left and across on the Shinde’s Temple located at Shinde Chhati, Wanowrie: As one

right. Ready-made dresses and western clothes (currently very

student put it, “one of the most peaceful and beautiful temples

popular in India). [Page 61]

I visited in Pune.” [Page 34] Karachiwala. 4 Moldina Road, Near Coffee House, Camp. Indian

Confident tips to the aspiring adventurer:

handicrafts; wholesalers, retailers, and exporters of fine jewelry,

Agra. Fly to Delhi, and then drive to the Taj Mahal. [Page 36]

arts and crafts, etc. Ganesh, Patanjali, Krishna, Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva statues. Bronze, brass, sandalwood carvings, also

Darjeeling. Drink first flush tea in the Himalayan Alps. [Page 36]

scarves. [Page 63]

Recommendations clearly based on personal experience:

Arnav. Geeta Bhojwani has been shopping for yogis for a long

A large statue of Ganesh lovingly touched up with fresh paint, ready for the Ganesh festival (Photo by Bobby Clennell)

Maharashtra, “The

time, and she knows what we want. Her home-based, one-stop

Parade,” just around the

store is an Aladdin’s cave of hand-selected works of art, jewelry,

(Toyota dealership)

and handicrafts from all over India. You will find lots of

corner from Hari Krisna

interesting gifts, some made by award-winning artists,

Mandir, has fresh milk,

including beautiful screen-printed paper, gift cards, good-

yogurt, ghee, spices,

quality woolen and silk stoles and scarves, Patanjali statues

rice, mung dal, etc. They

and embroideries. I advise that two or three of you go together.

are very helpful. Don’t

Slow down and enjoy a cup of chai as you browse. If you call before

be thrown by the line

you go, you can be picked up and dropped back home afterward.

cutting. [Page 58]

[Page 61]

Gatik Ventures.

Mr. Sanjay Lopes, at Smita Paranjape’s apartment, opposite the

Navin Pandey. Highly

Model Colony Post Office (look for “Ravi Pavanjape” on the

recommended travel

outside wall of the building). Enter through the gates of the

agent, based in Delhi.

driveway where a car is parked. Mr. Lopes provides excellent

“... Arranged a few days

packaging services, particularly catering to yoga students’

of travel in Gujarat and

shipments abroad. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sunday.

Rajasthan. He solved

[Page 72]

some nasty, last-minute problems for us very well. If I ever need a travel agent in India, I will call upon him again.” [Page 37]

Editor’s note: I myself have never experienced any problems at Mumbai airport with customs, but I have heard of students

Vama and Kajree. Kute Chowk, Laxmi Road. Silk saris, wedding

being asked to provide receipts from goods purchased in India.

saris, salwar-kurtas. The salesmen will parade hundreds of

So, a word of warning: Save your receipts! [Page 60]

items for you if you don’t stop them. [Page 64] Denise Weeks (Introductory II) teaches at Yoga Northwest in Satish Pise: Krishna Ladies Tailors… He will happily come to

Bellingham, Wash., and is currently serving as secretary on the IYNAUS

your apartment in Pune, but if he does this, pay him a little

board. She is also the copy editor of Yoga Samachar.


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Guruji’s Birthday Gifts and Maitri in Bellur By Gaye Painten

Guruji’s childhood home in Bellur, India (Photo by Gaye Painten)


ho says you can’t go home again? Last winter, Guruji traveled back to his birthplace, the small village of Bellur in the South Indian state of Kanartaka, to celebrate his 94th birthday. The

celebration, held Nov. 26–28, 2012, in accordance with the Hindu calendar, coincided with the consecration of a newly restored Rama Temple in Bellur and the dedication of a newly

“Bellur means ‘silver’ in English,” Guruji said.

healthy sanitation facilities, and the impressive Sage Patanjali temple—it is Guruji’s intent through the Bellur Krishnamachar and Seshamma Smaraka Nidhi Trust (Bellur Trust) to restore this humble village to its former glory.

erected junior college, Bellur College, Guruji’s most recent gift to his childhood village.

It was an auspicious sign when I discovered in early November that a trip to India I had already planned would coincide with

“Bellur means ‘silver’ in English,” Guruji said at the college’s

Guruji’s birthday fete. If I could get to Bangalore, I could be part

dedication ceremony where he spoke on the importance of

of the celebration. I hastily altered my plans. Arrangements

education. School children honored him and entertained

were made in a modest hotel in Bangalore—about 150 miles

hundreds of guests under a huge tent, with yoga

from Bellur—for the small group of foreigners from all parts of

demonstrations and colorful, lively song and dance. This

the world who had traveled to India for the celebration.

agrarian village once shone like silver in the 12th-century Hoysala Dynasty and is said to have held an important place in

Each day, armed with cameras, iPhones, iPads, sunglasses,

Indian mythology. During the time of the Mahabharata, the

bottled water, mosquito repellant, and lots and lots of humor,

village was known as Ekachakrapura.

we “pilgrims” traveled by mini-bus along the bustling, dusty road to Bellur and adjacent Ramamani Nagar, the 15-acre

Judging from what I saw during my trip to the village for the

campus for religious ceremonies. On our first day, we toured

festivities—a village primary school, the Ramamani

the small village. We were greeted with heart-warming smiles

Sundararaja Iyengar Memorial High School, the Ramamani

from villagers and lots of requests to “take my picture, take my

Sundararaja Iyengar Memorial Hospital, clean drinking water,

picture.” I paused reverently in front of Guruji’s childhood

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


Before leaving, I taught the kids how to give a “high five,” smacking each little palm.

home, then proceeded down a narrow lane past impassive chickens, apathetic goats, lazy dogs, and dispassionate cows to the Sage Patanjali Temple in the back of the village with its exquisitely carved, black stone statue of Patanjali in the inner

Guruji and family watch as the temple priest makes offerings to sage Patanjali. (Photo by Gaye Painten)

sanctum. Along the way, I paused to befriend a young lady squatting

locked. I caught a twinkle in the soft brown eyes peeping out

in front of her house, doing her Monday morning wash under

from under his bushy white eyebrows before instinctively

the warm Indian sun.

prostrating myself at his feet. I muttered something about being from Philadelphia and that it was a true honor to meet

Back at the Ramamani Nagar, I was walking along the path to

him. He allowed me to take a picture of him, and minutes

the dining hall when an Iyengar Yoga student from the U.S.

later, I floated back down the jagged path and headed to the

asked if I had ever met Guruji. “No,” I replied, thinking that it

dining hall where hearty South Indian fare was being served

had always seemed an impossible dream. “Well, if you want

on banana leaves. During lunch, Guruji appeared in the

to meet him, he is right up there on the veranda,” she said,

dining hall with several members of his family. For the next

pointing to a residence at the top of an incline. Suddenly, my

three days, he often graced us with his presence at meals,

two feet took on a life of their own. They turned and started

and whenever he did, mealtime took on an air of sacredness.

up the slope while my head and body followed until I was standing at the edge of the porch, face to face with the

How humbling it was to be part of Guruji’s religious life. Each

venerable Guruji. He was relaxing on a long sofa, one leg

day, temple priests, musicians, friends, and family bearing gifts

crossed on top of the other, a few devoted yoga students

for offerings arrived at the dining hall or Patanjali Temple to

sitting on the floor at his feet. For one split second our eyes

honor Guruji by observing the ritual of puja. Puja is the devotional act of showing reverence to a god or gods using music, water, incense, and offers of flowers, food, or clothing. I was taking photographs during one of the puja rituals when I noticed a little boy, about 10 or 11 years old, trailing me around the hall like a shadow. I turned around and smiled, but the boy didn’t smile back. He was serious about something, and his dark penetrating eyes were pleading. What could he possibly want, I thought. I had seen him sitting with another photographer earlier that day. From afar, it looked as though the photographer was giving the boy a lesson on how to use his camera. Finally, I got it. I slowly took the camera strap from around my neck, leaned down, and placed it around the child’s. Then I watched with motherly pride as he meandered around the grand hall taking snapshots of the puja with the intensity of a seasoned professional. The next morning, the boy brought his mother to meet me. Words to communicate failed again, so we smiled awkwardly and nodded at each other (maitri, friendliness, without words). She was beautiful, and I wanted to take a portrait of her, but when I held the camera aloft she quickly put one arm in front of her mouth and demurred. I think that she was ashamed of her teeth. More smiles, then the two of them disappeared into the crowd.

Village boy before the start of puja—a budding photographer, perhaps? (Photo by Gaye Painten) 26

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

But in Bellur, I saw a On the second afternoon of the fete, while the sprawling grounds were being decorated in anticipation of the grand celebration, another Iyengar Yoga student invited me to take a rickshaw back to the village with her to teach an English class

different Guruji.

at the primary school near Patanjali Temple. When the class

When I reflect on B.K.S. Iyengar, I am reminded of all that he has done for the advancement of yoga in the world and the many people who have benefited from his

wasn’t ready for us, we sat on a rocky ledge in the schoolyard

teachings. I hear the name B.K.S. Iyengar, and I think revered

and waited. Soon we were surrounded by a mob of little

teacher, wise scholar, erudite author, world-traveler, celebrity,

children. “What’s your name? What’s your name?” they all

philanthropist, and strong-willed taskmaster. But in Bellur, I

chirped over and over and over. “Let’s sing the ABC song,” my

saw a different Guruji. I saw a humble and gracious man, a

friend whispered to me. So we laughed and sang and watched

loving and kind father and grandfather figure to us all—an

as the crowd of children grew larger and larger. Finally, it was

ageless man, pure like silver, spiritual, and devoted to his

time to go into our classroom for the lesson. Before leaving, I

God. I saw a benevolent and generous man who has high

taught the kids how to give a “high five,” smacking each little

hopes and dreams for the children of Bellur and neighboring

palm. I looked back toward the school yard before entering the

villages. “That the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low

classroom and caught sight of little arms still stretched high,

to be educated so that they can come to the level of the

the “high five” mantra filling the air.

enlightened people of the cities. ... that by perspiration and inspiration [they will] become crystals in the field of

We returned to a magically transformed campus. Sweet

education.” These were Guruji’s expressed wishes at the

anticipation filled the air. Metal security detectors had been

dedication of the Bellur College. He has given so much to the

erected at the entrance to the tent. We took our seats among

world. Now he wants to continue to give to children, such as

hundreds in the audience and listened that night as the

the budding photographer and “high-fivers” I met,

governor of Kanartaka and a host of dignitaries took turns

opportunities that he never had as a child.

praising our beloved Guruji for his work in education. Bellur’s favorite son had come home again and brought many of his friends with him. And so for three days, Guruji presided over his 94th birthday bash where villagers mingled with foreigners, and maitri, the spirit of friendship, ruled. What a birthday gift for us all! Gaye Painten has been an Iyengar Yoga student since 2007, studying primarily with Joan White in Philadelphia.

Students from the Ramamani Sundararaja Iyengar High School greet visitors with Namaste. (Photo by Gaye Painten) Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


yo g a c h a i r p r o p yoga chair prop is a proud sponsor of the 2013 iyNaUS Teacher Training, and is honored to donate 325 yoga chairs for the teaching staff’s instruction.



Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Paksha Pratipaksha on Results-Oriented Versus Indifference Interview by Robin Lowry As part of my dissertation research on yoga curricula for young people, I interviewed Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar several times. This segment is the last in the series.

Some consider that a goal or result of yoga is social harmony, that yoga can help humans get along.

joy of the game. That affects the players and brings not just

Geeta Iyengar: Results-oriented teaching! You know children


Robin Lowry:

will always want to know the effect-wise result: “What happens if I do this?” If it is cold outside and you tell them to put on

physical breakdowns but mental breakdowns as well. The balanced state of mind is important.

Whereas with games for children, which should be fun, we can teach how to share, how to play hard but not aggressively.

woolen clothes, they will ask, “Why?” They want the answer given in such a manner that they are convinced. If they do not

GI: Yes. I think if children are taught in that manner, they are

wear woolen clothes, what happens? Again, they are looking for

playing the game for the game’s sake.

results-oriented answers. So this inquisitiveness is always present in children—or anyone: “Why should I do this?” But it should not be used to tempt with reward or to punish.

But can one also use games to act on or cultivate the principles of Yama and Niyama?


Inquisitiveness should be replied to so that [the inquirer] develops the right and correct attitude. For instance, to ask

GI: Yes. You have to certainly guide them on the track of Yama

students to do Sirsasana and tempt them with some reward,

and Niyama, but when the emphasis is on achievement, it goes

that is not right. You should certainly inform them that

back to your question about results. These nerve-wracking

Sirsasana is going to help them in the future to retain a

kinds of achievements are not good. Today I have to do

balanced nature, calmness, quietness, sharpness etc. but not

something for the great achievement, and then afterwards I am

give them an expectation of definite reward. But to your

nowhere. What is the point in having such attitudes? So these

question, is social harmony merely to be nonviolent,

demonic ambitions should not be there. One should have

noncovetous and so on? To impart moral training is one thing,

healthy ambitions, of course, but one should be fit enough to

but how are you going to make students realize that problems

stand up to whatever you really need to achieve. This is when

are rooted in us? The deep-rooted sorrows, pains, and fears.

the contradiction comes. All games cannot be of the sober

Human nature is of that type; therefore, we need to create

nature. It is not the fault of the game but the human beings.

awareness first.

In the field of physical education we teach sports and games. Would you consider sports and games practical ways to teach the Yamas and Niyamas? That through these sports and games you can learn about yourself?


GI: Oh yes. Yamas and Niyamas are universal disciplines,

I’ve come upon a book called the Kama Shastra, which lists skills like stitching, bridgebuilding, and word games that are said to be necessary to learn before studying the Kama Sutra, and I see that your yoga curriculum for school children is also called a shastra, the Yogshastra. What is the relationship between a shastra and a sutra?


adoptable by one and all. We find that even on the national and international levels, cutthroat competitions go on, fights

GI: Shastra is science, methodology, doctrine, and sutra means

and murders at stadiums—of course, this is not good. You

“aphorism.” Sutra will have minimum words, making the

have to definitely introduce Yamas and Niyamas. Healthy

statement clear. Shastra contains the science with details. Sutra

competition is good. International competitions have to take

is a concise form of literature. So it is a way of writing an

place, but not with the killing instinct or like today where

explanation. One could write the Yogasutras in the form of a

sports are played for the sake of entertainment. Players don’t

novel, too. One can put the science of yoga in the story form,

enjoy the games when unhealthy attitudes develop. One is

too. I once arranged a demonstration in Pune based on the idea

always thinking of doing more and more, not for improving

of purusha and prakriti that was story-like, novel-like. A shastra

skills but for winning. The craze of winning overshadows the

puts everything in the form of science, which is based on a

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


foundation of principles. Yoga is a

GI: Yes. So in that context, when you

spiritual science, as physics is a

read it, it becomes a shastra. You

physical science. In a shastra, you put

understand the spiritual approach

every topic systematically with

scientifically. In this manner, you

definition as well as details. You

can go right up to the end of the

explain every aspect and the subject


matter clearly. You bring the proper

Guruji’s sequential syllabi that we study to become certified in his teaching method are so brilliant. I find so often in my studies, for example, that my problems with Malasana II have a root back in previous syllabi poses that I honestly never grasped fully. RL:

connection in the topic. You explain the methodology, the purpose, and the aim of the science. You explain the utility of science. You deal with the opposing views or objections taken regarding the science. You give proof for its rationality and practicality. You explain the journey of science from start to end.


So like a study book?

GI: Yes, a study book. And that is why

Patanjali statue at RIMYI (Photo by Tori Milner)

Guruji has always said when you are

GI: Yes, exactly. When the body performs, we do, and if it performs

studying yoga, you have to start with the Sadhana Pada (on

well and it presents itself, then we know. But when it doesn’t

practice, the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras), and the 13

do, we have to penetrate and find out why this is not

sutras of the Vibhuti Pada (on properties and powers, the third

happening. That means actually your penetration increases.

chapter), then go to the Samadhi Pada (on contemplation, the

If you would have just dropped into your Malasana straight

first chapter). Why doesn’t he first teach Samadhi Pada? Because

away, your penetration would not have been there.

first you should know what sadhana is. You do sadhana (practice)

Today I have to do something for the great achievement, and then afterwards I am nowhere. What is the point in having such attitudes? 30

for what purpose? And knowing the


And I wouldn’t know anything.

purpose or touching the goal, some questions arise. There is a purusha

GI: Yes! But now when you have to go back, you know exactly

(the seer, the soul); there is a prakriti

where you are stuck. So in that small area, whether it is the

(nature). Why are we attaching

groin or the root of the thigh or your knee or your back or lower

ourselves to drishya (the visible,

spine, then you work on that region specifically for that region.

perceptible) and forgetting our drishta (the knower, the seer)? So in this manner, each aspect, when

RL: Guruji gives the order for exploration in these syllabi.

dealt in details, it is shastra. To know about the soul, the elements,

GI: Yes. But no one understands why it is given in this manner.

the evolutes of prakriti, the

The syllabi are scientifically based.

consciousness, the intelligence, mind, I-consciousness, the organs of actions, the organs of perception—all such things come under shastra, including the bones, muscles, and anatomy and

I have created a self-inventory for teachers, not just yoga teachers, a list of statements that get to some behaviors and attitudes that may relate to specific kleshas (afflictions), or perhaps a conjunction of two or more kleshas.


physiology of the body as well as psychology.

So you get the context from Sadhana Pada from which to study the other padas (chapters).


GI: “Cooperation is a human necessity.” It is good. You have a range for them to answer, and this range is showing that you have a level on which you can work. Sometimes they are feeling cooperation or tolerance is necessary, but if they are saying “sometimes” yes or they are saying “always” when you don’t really need always, or “rarely,” then that means you have a Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

So by indifference there is compassion; there is patience; there is also understanding of what is possible for such individuals.

discrimination, that means

GI: Yes. So as a teacher, you have to know such things, that they

paksha (to espouse) pratipaksha

are not going to improve or adapt. So by indifference there is

(opposite thought/action) comes

compassion; there is patience; there is also understanding of

there. Again, you can have

what is possible for such individuals. All students are not of the

tolerance when a student is

same level.

doing wrongly and not trying to pick up what has to be done. You may have tolerance the first time and the second time, but then you realize he is doing this on

Well, Geetaji, this leaves me with a lot to contemplate. Thank you so very much for your time today as well as all your hard work everyday for your students.


purpose, and then obviously you have to lose your temper over

GI: Thank you!

there. And that is really what you can study, so this is good.

This brings up the idea of indifference. Guruji has written that the qualities of a teacher include compassion, patience, and tolerance, but also indifference. Please explain how this indifference works.


GI: I will give you an example of indifference. In my ladies’ class, there is an old lady who comes. She had been doing very well with the group, doing everything. Even with her arthritic knees, she was following everything. She is about 70 plus. Last

Robin Lowry has been studying in the Iyengar method since 1987 and is certified at the Intermediate Junior I level. She teaches at her home yoga studio in the historic Germantown section of Philadelphia. She has been a public school health and physical education teacher for 18 years and currently teaches at the K–6 level. Her dissertation, “A Survey of Youth Yoga Curriculums,” was completed in August 2011 at Temple University in the Kinesiology Department.

Women’s Iyengar Retreat in Northern California

year she had an eye operation for her cataracts. Cataract surgery is not a big operation, but after that operation, when she came to class, she was totally lost. She could not remember anything. So the first two days, I gave her the sequence—what supine poses, which forward bends she should do, and what she should avoid. I introduced her to Setubandha Sarvangasana and Halasana. But now we notice that she is becoming thin, yet no one has come from her family, so we don’t know what is going on. She is forgetting everything. She has a sort of dislinking, a withdrawing, and so what can we do? She comes regularly, and all by herself. And she is doing mechanically.

with Octavia Morgan & Athena Pappas

August 1st –4th

The brain is certainly affected. So as a teacher, I think, I should allow her to come as long as she can manage. I may not continue to adjust her. She is coming, and that is enough. I show indifference yet with compassion.

So you see the student’s capacity not just on the physical level. You cannot push even though we may think we know what she should do, we have to be indifferent so that we don’t get in the way of her or get caught up.


Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

Join us for our 5th annual retreat — a long weekend of practice, nature and relaxation at the Ratna Ling Buddhist retreat center on the stunning California Coast. Ratna Ling offers beautiful facilities, a heated yoga floor, hiking trails, redwood groves, and close access to coastal preserves. $825 includes: 3 nights private room in a 2-person cottage, all meals (vegetarian), 9 yoga sessions (3 pranayama & 6 asana) For complete details visit 31



Jet Lag Sequence After a typically convoluted journey to Pune to study at RIMYI, I arrived at the Surya hotel and prepared to settle in. Back in the day, the Surya was a favorite temporary home for the Institute’s world travelers. Once inside my room, I opened the large vertical cabinet that provided a place to hang my clothes with an additional high shelf for my whatevers. As I pulled down the extra blanket and pillow, a single sheet of paper floated down as though from above. Its title was “Jet Lag Sequence.” I immediately recognized the familiar intelligence of the design of the poses. Thank you, Guruji.— Julie Lawrence

Supta Virasana – recline onto bolster

Malasana – on chair

Roll blanket and place under feet and ankles in various ways to

1. Straddle and sit on the chair, facing the back of the chair.

see effects.

Press buttocks back; press chest to chair back. 2. Sit on chair, facing forward. Bend forward. Rest crown of

Adho Mukha Virasana

head on blanket or bolster. Hold back chair legs. Rest frontal

Place bolster or blankets under abdomen. Rest head, arms, etc.

ribcage on seat of chair.

Notice how the groins soften and the ribcage relaxes.

Salamba Sarvangasana – strap arms Supta Padmasana – strap thighs

Hold for 10 minutes.


Ardha (half) Padmasana – strap thigh to shin

Halasana – strap arms

Do for three minutes on each side.

Hold for five minutes.

Supta Baddhakonasana – recline over bolster, support head

Sarvangasana – arms strapped:

Do for five minutes or more. Notice how this relaxes the groins.

• Parsvaikapada


Halasana – remove strap and do these variations:

Do for three minutes.

• Eka Pada

• Parsva Halasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana – rest head on bolster

• Parsva Karnapidasana

Do for three minutes.

• Supta Konasana • Halasana

Sirsasana Do for seven minutes, then do the following variations:

Sarvangasana – arms strapped:

• Parsva Sirsasana

• Virasana

• Parivrttaikapada

• Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – one leg to touch floor, then back

• Eka Pada • Parsvaikapada • Baddhakonasana

up; repeat with other leg; then drop both legs to floor and hold about three minutes. • Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

• Upavistha Konasana

Forward bends — wrap eyes Adho Mukha Virasana Janu sirsasana Ropes: Uttanasana/Urdhva Mukha Svanasana/ Paschimottanasana

Do for three minutes on each side.

Do eight times slowly to open shoulders and release neck.

Paschimottanasana Do for five minutes.

Viparita Dandasana – on chair Place crown of head on bolster, legs parallel to floor, feet on

Savasana — keep eyes wrapped

wall, arms rest overhead or hold back chair legs. Place hands on abdomen if nauseous or flushed. Hold for five minutes.

Julie Lawrence (Intermediate Junior III) is the director of the Julie Lawrence Yoga Center in Portland, Oregon.


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

2012 Iyengar Yoga Assessments Here are the names of those who went up for, and passed, an assessment in 2012. Our method provides ongoing education for teachers at every level. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication!

Intermediate Senior I

Rose Goldblatt

Elizabeth Hargrove

Dahlia Domian

Linda DiCarlo

Heide Grace

Rachel Hazuga

Nathalie Fairbanks

Ray Madigan

Lisa Hajek

Michelle Hill

Daryl Fowkes

Garth Mclean

Robyn Harrison

Rebecca Hooper

Susan Friedman

Kathleen Pringle

Karan Hase

Terese Ireland

Jane Froman

Sue Salaniuk

Susan Huard

Jenelle Lee

Marleen Hunt

Keri Lee

Cynthia Licht

Susan Johnson

Intermediate Junior III

Carolyn Matsuda

Leslie Lowder

Mary Ellen Jurchak

Christopher Beach

Becky Meline

Kimberly Z. Mackesy

Nadzeya Krol

Kquvien DeWeese

Tal Mesika

Victoria McGuffin

Linda Kundla

Matthew Dreyfus

Michael Moore

Melinda Morey

Deb Lau

Brian Hogencamp

Lori Lipton Ritland

Tzahi Moskovitz

Kristin McGee

Anara Lomme

Pamela Seitz

Linda Murphy

Olya Mokina

Michael Lucey

Diana Shannon

Chris O’Brien

Willamarie Moore

Tori Milner

Christina Sible

Katrina Pelekanakis

Kathy Morris

Athena Pappas

Anastasia Sofos

Martha Pyron

Beth Nelson

Faith Russell

Tamarie Spielman

Stephanie Rago

Darcy Paley

Nancy Sandercock

Carmella Stone-Klein

Michelle Ringgold

Scott Radin

Susan Turis

Lisa Rotell

Laurel Rayburn

Intermediate Junior II

Manju Vachher

Mari Beth Sartain

Tara Rice

Gary Jaeger

David Yearwood

Paige Seals

Mary Rotscher

Robin Simmonds

Alice Rusevic

Jill Johnson Kiha Lee

Introductory II

Lori Theis

Mary Bruce Serene

Aretha McKinney Blevins

Suzana Alilovic-Schuster

Chere Thomas

Yvonne Shanks

Heather Haxo Phillips

Autumn Alvarez

Javier Wilensky

Mary Shelley

Anna Rain

Cynthia Bernheim

Ibi Winterman

Leslie Silver

Todd Semo

Olga Boggio

Angie Woyar

Coreene Smith

Lucienne Vidah van der

Judy Brown


Natasha Caldwell

Introductory I

Kelly Sobanski

Waraporn N. Cayeiro

Kevin Allen

Dan Truini

Intermediate Junior I

Lynn Celek

Nadya Bair

Anne Underwood

Lynda Alfred

Karen Chandler

Mary J. Bridle

Tiff Van Huysen

Nichole Baker

Tehseen Chettri

Kirsten Brooks

Amy Van Mui

Sharon Carter

Thea Daley

Karen Bysiewicz

Levy Vered

Nikki Costello

Charlotte Sather Davis

Brendan Clarke

Tatyana Wagner

Mary DeVore

Patrice Daws

Elizabeth Cowan

Da Gang Wang

Aaron Fleming

Jonathan Dickstein

Deanna Cramer

Sachiko Willis

Laurie Medeiros Freed

Amy Duncan

Laila Deardorff

Sarah Wilner

Judith Friedman

Diana Erney

Kathleen Digby

Joanna Zweig

Jill Ganassi

Robert Gadon

Linda Dobbyn

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar

Heidi Smith


Musings Memory By Carrie Owerko

Perhaps our

Sri Patanjali defines memory as “the unmodified recollection of

ability to

words and experiences,” or he writes that “memory retains living experience” (Sutra 1.11). Patanjali also says that memory, like all forms of thought or mental activity, can be afflicting or

remember is

nonafflicting. It depends on use. It depends on us.

affected by how

Geeta Iyengar once said that we always remember “peak”

integrated we

experiences. But why? Is it because perhaps, in those moments, we were more wholly present? Present with the totality of ourselves? Is it because, at those times, we were truly awake? Were we more open and receptive? Vivid memories or recollections often include our sense perceptions and emotions, and some proprioceptive and interoceptive sense of how we felt at the time. Perhaps our ability to remember is affected by how integrated we were at the time of the experience we are remembering—or by how integrated we are now, as we remember. When we are in a truly integrated state, our minds

were at the time of the experience we are remembering…

terrifying. But, whenever possible, to incline our hearts toward presence and invite the whole of ourselves into experience is to cultivate an integrated state of being. And when memories are integrated into our present experience, they can affect how we are now. Sometimes when we attend fully to some present experience, we are visited by the past. This may be an invitation toward integration, an opportunity to integrate our memories of past experiences into the present. Because we are never really

and hearts tend to be open and receptive, or inclusive. Fragmented states of being tend to exclude large chunks of

without our past or without our future, even when we embrace

experience, which are then less easily committed to memory.

the present moment. It is this knowing, this felt sense of how

Sometimes this is born out of necessity, as a survival

fragile and fleeting life is that wakes us up to the now.

mechanism. Sometimes it is just how we tend to live and get by.

A memory

Memories will often include how our senses, our bodies, and

Ever since I was small, I have had a fascination with and love

our emotions were at the time. They can be rich, multifaceted,

for aspen trees. They stand in clusters or groves with their

and complex. They also can be difficult or, in some cases,

white bark, delicately mottled with black, like a small family

Photo by Curtis Settino 34

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

of friendly skeletons wearing coats of gold sequins. Their

somewhere. Her fur was a beautiful pale gold and white. She

fragile beauty is especially brilliant during the few short

reminded me of the quaking aspen trees that surrounded us.

weeks in fall when their bright, round leaves quiver and

That day she would not leave our station wagon to play or go

quake in the thin mountain air. Their leaves seem so delicate,

for a hike among the trees. She was terrified. So we stayed. We

almost fragile. The small teardrops are coated with a light

stayed with her and her fear. We surrounded her with love as

waxy substance that makes them shimmer in the sunlight,

she shook in anticipation—or in memory.

shimmer like sequins attached by thread to cloth or bone. They appear to shiver. And then there is the sound. That

I remember how the light that day reflected off the shimmering

sound of time, of heartache, and of love.

sequins of golden leaves. And off the fur of my scared dog Allie. It was clear and brilliant and all encompassing like the air. The

My most recent memory of aspen trees (which we do not see in

clean and crisp air that held light and sound, that held the

NYC) was evoked by seeing the birch trees last fall in Riverside

smell that dogs emit when they are afraid. It held the sweet

Park. They share a similar white, silvery bark as their aspen

and yet frustrated voices of my parents and my brother. It held

brethren. That silvery white is so evocative of snow or bone.

us all in the very breath that knows past and future are here,

And then there is the gold of their leaves, the short but

now, in this moment. And the breath that is inclusive of the

beautiful life of those golden leaves.

complexity that is experience. And the breath that is inclined toward acceptance and love.

When I close my eyes to remember the aspen trees, my heart literally aches. I can feel the cool, dry Rocky Mountain air on

This is the use of memory:

my nostrils, hear those leaves quaking, as if they were speaking some primeval secret of life. It is as if their leaves

For liberation—not less of love but expanding

are softly whispering of what has been and what is to come. Listening to their quiet song was both sad and beautiful. It

Of love beyond desire, and so liberation

was like many a memory.

From the future as well as the past. My aspen memories include my family. They include our sweet adopted border collie Allie, a young stray that we had taken

—T.S. Eliot

into our home and hearts. When we took a Sunday drive one fall afternoon to see the aspen trees, she became terrified.

Carrie Owerko (Senior Intermediate I) is a core faculty member of the

When we stopped the car, she began to shiver and shake just

Iyengar Yoga Institute of NY, and she travels regularly to India to study

like the trees, perhaps remembering being abandoned on a road

with the Iyengar family.

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar




Yoga Philosophy On and Off the Mat: B.K.S. Iyengar’s Core of the Yoga Sutras By Peggy Hong As Iyengar Yoga students and teachers, we

stand for Yama and Nyama, while mudita (joy) and upeksa

know that the practice is far more than

(indifference) correspond to Asana and Pranayama. They

physical. We have witnessed, in ourselves,

combine to eliminate the nine antarayas (impediments).

our colleagues, and our students, the

He continues:

profundity of the practice. We know how it shapes our emotions, clarifies our

“ Sutra I.33 stipulates that these antarayas must be

intellects, and calms or stimulates our

eradicated with the means of asana-abhyasa (I.32)

minds. Yet, in a yoga methodology known

[postures-practice] and, once cured, fixed, stabilised or

for its rigor, precision, and attention to

under control, one must treat them with mudita [joy]

physical alignment, how do we discuss or present these finer,

and upeksa [indifference]. The latter means, in this

more subtle aspects?

sense, vairagya [renunciation].

Once again, Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar, now age 94, has come to our

Then from the next sutra (I.34) Patanjali introduces

aid with a wonderful resource. His latest book, Core of the Yoga

gradually and systematically the different aspects of

Sutras, penetrates the classic yoga scriptures (especially

astanga yoga [eight limbs of yoga] from pranayama [breath

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras), grouping them thematically for

control] onward until dhyana (I.39) [meditation].” (89–90)

understanding and application. In this way, Guruji thoroughly demonstrates how to approach We all know that understanding the yoga sutras brings a depth

the classic texts with an integrative mindset that reveals the

and richness to our practice, yet how do we share this? Core of

relationships among the guiding principles of yoga.

the Yoga Sutras is the kind of book, after you read it cover to cover, that you can refer to daily to enrich your own understanding

The back of Core of the Yoga Sutras is nearly as valuable as the

of yoga or to prepare to teach a class in which you share a seed

main body of the book. It contains an extremely useful Sanskrit

of philosophy.

glossary, which goes into more detail than Guruji’s earlier classic, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It also contains a

The structure of the book is what makes it groundbreaking and

sequential layout of Patanjali’s sutras and its transliteration, so

ever so applicable to yoga practitioners. For instance, Chapter X,

they can be easily referenced by chapter and order. This is a

Klesa, Vrtti, and Antaraya—Afflictions, Fluctuations, and

particularly useful format for chanting. The next appendix

Impediments, integrates these important concepts, tying them

arranges the sutras in alphabetical order, so if you remember

together with sutra references from all four padas (chapters) of

how a sutra starts off, instead of thumbing through an entire

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, as well as The Bhagavad Gita. I imagine if

book, you can easily find its sutra number, as well as the page

we each had an opportunity to sit down with Guruji to have a

reference in the book.

philosophical conversation, he would share insights and explanations, sprinkled with sutra references, to connect and

All serious practitioners who seek a deeper understanding of

ground the discussion to the scriptures. Only a teacher with a

yoga’s underlying principles will find this book useful because

sweeping knowledge of the sutras, who has studied them for

it shows us how we can create more harmonious and more

decades, applied them to daily life, and keenly observed his or

conscious lives through the study of yoga. Once again, we thank

her own consciousness, could present such a book.

Guruji with our hearts and minds for continuing to shine the light on yoga.

For instance, in Chapter X, Guruji cites sutras I.33, III.24, and III.25 as “sutras [to] help sadhakas directly build up the qualities

Peggy Kwisuk Hong (Intermediate Junior II) directed a nonprofit Iyengar

needed to stop unfavorable thoughts and help in removing

Yoga center, Riverwest Yogashala, in Milwaukee for nearly 10 years. She

wants, desires, and impressions” (88). He lists these sutras with

recently moved to Detroit and is now helping spread the healing art of

brief commentaries, then explains how they connect to astanga

Iyengar Yoga through community classes at Yoga Suite Center for Yoga

yoga (the eight limbs of yoga, or Guruji’s preferred translation,

Studies as well as in homes, public schools, and neighborhood centers.

the eight petals). Maitri (friendliness) and karuna (compassion) 36

Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

Classifieds Yoga Sanctuary for Sale in New Zealand (Bay of Islands) 6-bedroom house


Separate yoga centre with 12-year clientele; 2.2-hectare property with

to Abhijata Iyengar

river boundary, organic established

on the birth of her daughter in April 2013.

veggie gardens and fruit orchards. P.O.A. mobile N.Z. 0274981018

Happy wishes from the IYNAUS community.

For photos of the property, email Louisa at

A Call for Musings Yoga Samachar seeks submissions for our “Musings” column, 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 studio or for creating community in your home town. For this issue, Carrie Owerko (Senior Intermediate I) contributed “Memory” (see page 34). Please send your own Musings to by Aug. 1.

Ask the Yogi Beginning with the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 issue, Yoga Samachar will feature a new column, “Ask the Yogi.” Rotating senior teachers will provide answers to a range of questions submitted by IYNAUS members. We welcome your questions related to how or when to use props, how best to deal with specific health conditions, philosophical help with the sutras, tips on teaching or doing certain poses, and more. Please send questions to by Aug. 1.

Volunteer Transcriptionist Wanted Yoga Samachar is looking for volunteers to help transcribe interviews with senior teachers and other people in the Iyengar community. If you are interested, please contact Michelle D. Williams at

2013 Convention Photos Wanted Did you get some great shots at the conference or convention this year? Yoga Samachar is looking for photos of students and teachers in the IYNAUS community as well as shots of the various activities in San Diego. Space will be limited in the magazine for publication, but we will consider all that are submitted. Please contact Michelle D. Williams at for details on how to submit.

YOUR AD HERE Yoga Samachar accepts short, text-only classified ads to announce workshops, offer props for sale, list teacher openings at your studio, or provide other yoga-related information. Ads cost $50 for up to 50 words, plus $1 per word over 50 words, including phone numbers, USPS addresses, and websites. Please contact Michelle D. Williams at for more information or to submit an ad.

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar



Report—IYNAUS Finances

By David Carpenter In the last issue of Yoga Samachar, I provided an overview of

months of the association’s expenses. So we continue to

IYNAUS’ finances and the challenges that the association faces.

operate with a very small financial cushion.

I will devote this report to updating the data from the last issue and providing a little more information on steps that can be

Year-to-year comparisons are often instructive. Since last fall,

taken to increase the association’s revenues and to improve its

we have prepared a reasonably accurate profit and loss

financial condition.

statement for 2010, and we now obviously have figures for all of 2012. The following chart shows IYNAUS’ revenues and

As of March 1, 2013, we had approximately $90,000 in

expenses for 2010, 2011, and 2012. To simplify the presentation,

unrestricted cash on hand, and there is also roughly $70,000

we have allocated all revenues and expenses for the 2010

of retricted moneys in the separate certification mark

Portland Convention to that calendar year. We also allocated all

account that is jointly controlled by IYNAUS and Guruji

of IYNAUS’ expenses for IYAMW’s 2011 From the Heartland

(through Gloria Goldberg, who is Guruji’s attorney in fact in

Conference and for IYASE’s 2012 Maitri Conference—as well as

the U.S). We also have inventory for the IYNAUS store and

IYNAUS’ 50 percent share of the profits or losses from these

other “illiquid” assets that we carry on our books at $142,465.

conferences—to those specific years. We also have shown the

In our day-to-day operation, we can only use our unrestricted

results when these event revenues are excluded.

cash, and $90,000 is only sufficient to cover about four





Dues (less regions’ shares)




Event revenues (including receivables)




Store revenues (less cost of goods)




Charitable contributions to IYNAUS







Assessment fees and manual




Bellur donations








Bellur donations




Salaries and employment taxes




Production expenses for Yoga Samachar




Assessment expenses




Legal fees




Website design and maintenance




IYNAUS board meeting travel expenses








Office supplies and expenses




Merchant and bank fees (for store)




Non employee insurance and taxes








Unrestricted Revenue

Restricted Revenue Certification mark (less payments to India) Earmarked Revenue











Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

What these charts show is that in each of the past two years,

hopeful that we can avoid these costs this year and in future

IYNAUS’ annual expenses have exceeded its combined

years. We also will begin selling limited advertisements in

revenues from dues, from the IYNAUS store, from

Yoga Samachar.

assessment fees and manuals, and from charitable contributions. While the 2011 IYAMW conference produced

Further, even if the San Diego convention is very successful,

net revenues for IYNAUS, these were almost entirely offset

there are reasons to consider steps to enhance IYNAUS’

by losses resulting from the 2012 IYASE conference. IYNAUS

revenues: to enable the board to do more to promote Iyengar

is financially viable today solely because the 2010 Portland

Yoga, to support our certified teachers, and to provide other

convention generated more than $155,000 in revenues. We

benefits for the association’s members. For example, many

had $84,500 in net revenues from the convention itself, and

are concerned that the value of Iyengar certification is not

the IYNAUS store made some $71,000 in sales at the

sufficiently appreciated by the public and government

convention. So revenues attributable to the Portland

bodies, and they believe that the board should adopt other

convention subsidized IYNAUS’ operations in 2011 and 2012

measures to enhance public understanding of the meaning

and provided us with most of the (relatively small) financial

of certification. This would require additional expenditures.

cushion that we now have.

Similarly, some believe that IYNAUS should make investments to foster research into the benefits of our

I understand that the experience of the past three years is

method or find ways to better disseminate existing research.

not at all unusual, and that historically, profits attributable

In addition, IYNAUS has performed an invaluable service by

to our triennial conventions have supported the association’s

collecting and maintaining tapes, videos, and other materials

activities during nonconvention years. For this reason, it is

from Guruji’s early years, but it will require significant

fortunate that the upcoming San Diego conference and

further investments to ensure that these archival materials

convention promise to be exceptional events, and our board

are adequately preserved. These are just three examples of

has high hopes that they will be financially successful. But

initiatives that IYNAUS might undertake that would require

the experience with the Maitri Conference has taught us that

increased funding.

events with well-conceived programs and stellar teachers will not always generate positive financial results. In the

The board is engaged in a serious strategic planning exercise

event that the San Diego conference does not generate

to identify options and set priorities, and the outcome of this

substantial profits, the board will have to explore ways to

exercise may include efforts to increase IYNAUS’ revenues.

enhance the association’s revenues or reduce its expenses.

One possibility might be for IYNAUS to begin making concerted efforts to attract charitable contributions, which

Some such efforts are already underway. Because revenues

would include the kinds of end-of-the-year appeals that are

from assessment fees and manuals have not covered the

annual events for most other not-for-profit corporations.

costs of assessments during each of the past two years, the

Another option might be a modest increase in dues. Still

assessment committee has increased assessment fees

other options will be explored. Members should be assured

slightly this year (but these fees will continue to be held

that the board will not undertake these measures unless we

down by the fact that assessors all donate their time and

are convinced that they will enable us to better achieve the

that studios host assessments rent free). Also, in the past two

association’s mission of promoting Iyengar Yoga in the U.S.

years, our efforts to obtain federal tax IDs for Iyengar family

and that they will benefit Iyengar method teachers and

members caused us to incur significant legal fees, and we are

IYNAUS members. Stay tuned.

David Carpenter IYNAUS Treasurer

Photo : Lois Steinberg

Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar


Photo by Tori Mllner


Yoga Samachar Spring /Summer 2013

December, 2012, in the city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges River (Photo by James Burton)

On the Rolling Seas By Mary Ann Travis

Mary Ann Travis is a yoga teacher at Audubon Yoga Studio in New Orleans. She has passed the Intro I level of teacher assessment.

B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States P.O. Box 538 Seattle, WA 98111

A traditional Indian market (Photo by Vicky Grogg)

Yoga Samachar - Spring.Summer 2013  

Yoga Samachar, the magazine of the Iyengar Yoga community in the United States and beyond, is published twice a year by the Communications C...