Vol. 17 No. 1
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 www.iynaus.org/iyanus/ iynaus-board-staff. David Carpenter email@example.com
Kathy Simon firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Cleveland email@example.com
Eric Small firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Hainley email@example.com
Nancy Watson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Lerner email@example.com
Denise Weeks firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Lilly email@example.com
Sharon Cowdery (General Manager) firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Lucey email@example.com Tori Milner firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Reilly email@example.com Phyllis Rollins firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact IYNAUS: P.O. Box 538 Seattle WA 98111 206.623.3562 www.iynaus.org
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 email@example.com 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 http://iynaus.org/yoga-samachar.
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,
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
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
Alex Cleveland, Chair Chris Beach, Patrina Dobish
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
Nancy Watson, Chair Patrina Dobish, Gloria Goldberg, Diana Martinez, Phyllis Rollins
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
iyengaryogacenter.com. 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 www.iyengarnyc.org 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 iyengarnyc.org 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 http://iyisf.org 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 http://iyascus.org , 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 (iyengaryogainaustin.blogspot.com
Manos workshop in February. Just back from Pune, Rita shared
and teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com) 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 couldnâ€™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.
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
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 Womenâ€™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
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
Sometimes, the gift I take home from RIMYI is from a class. At other
times, it’s something that I’ve heard Guruji say when he breaks from his
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
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
almost every class, “You people are always doing, doing, doing.
Asana is a state of being, not a state of doing.” In a similar, and
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
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
and, maintaining the actions, simply be in the pose receiving
the effects of what I had created. Like Geetaji’s use of the word
“sanctify,” from the moment I heard Prashantji’s perspective on
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 email@example.com.
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 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
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
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
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 (siegfriedbleher.blogspot.com). 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 http://iynaus.org/study-india/study-india, 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.
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)
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,
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]
Mr. Sanjay Lopes, at Smita Paranjape’s apartment, opposite the
Navin Pandey. Highly
Model Colony Post Office (look for “Ravi Pavanjape” on the
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
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
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 staffâ€™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
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.
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
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 www.yogashalaboulder.com 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.
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.
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
• 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
Intermediate Junior III
Mary Ellen Jurchak
Kimberly Z. Mackesy
Lori Lipton Ritland
Intermediate Junior II
Mari Beth Sartain
Jill Johnson Kiha Lee
Mary Bruce Serene
Aretha McKinney Blevins
Heather Haxo Phillips
Lucienne Vidah van der
Waraporn N. Cayeiro
Intermediate Junior I
Mary J. Bridle
Tiff Van Huysen
Amy Van Mui
Charlotte Sather Davis
Da Gang Wang
Laurie Medeiros Freed
Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar
Musings Memory By Carrie Owerko
Sri Patanjali defines memory as “the unmodified recollection of
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
nonafflicting. It depends on use. It depends on us.
affected by how
Geeta Iyengar once said that we always remember “peak”
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.
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. www.kerikeriyogacentre.com
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com for more information or to submit an ad.
Spring /Summer 2013 Yoga Samachar
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
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
IYNAUS Profit and Loss STATEMENTS REVENUES
Dues (less regions’ shares)
Event revenues (including receivables)
Store revenues (less cost of goods)
Charitable contributions to IYNAUS
Assessment fees and manual
Salaries and employment taxes
Production expenses for Yoga Samachar
Website design and maintenance
IYNAUS board meeting travel expenses
Office supplies and expenses
Merchant and bank fees (for store)
Non employee insurance and taxes
Restricted Revenue Certification mark (less payments to India) Earmarked Revenue
NET REVENUE—EXCLUDING CONVENTION/REGIONAL CONFERENCES
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
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
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 www.iynaus.org
A traditional Indian market (Photo by Vicky Grogg)