Kate Marshall-Chase visits the Iyengar Institute in India
I recently had the good fortune to spend a month at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune India. RIMYI – Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute- is the Mother Institute of Iyengar Yoga worldwide. It is here that B.K.S. Iyengar and his family teach and refine the constantly evolving method that is one of the world’s most widely practiced forms of yoga. Teachers from around the world make their way to this Institute to study, practice and hone their skills to share back home with their students in their respective countries.
Called the “Michelangelo of Yoga” and named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, B.K.S Iyengar is a 95 year old living legend credited with bringing yoga to the west with both his pioneering teaching and his world famous book “Light On Yoga”.
Our group of over 100 teachers from all over the world were fortunate to practice daily with Mr. Iyengar and receive his teaching through the instruction of his grand daughter, Abhi. Although his daughter, son and granddaughter are now chief teachers at the Institute, Mr. Iyengar often teaches from his practice area at the side of the great hall while maintaining a supported yoga pose. He might be in a backbend or inversion for 10 – 20 min. while verbally guiding us in our yoga practice as his granddaughter repeats his instructions to us!!
As I am now beginning to absorb what I experienced in India I want to share what I learned from Iyengar’s methodology of teaching yoga. It is based on a triad of Precision, Timing & Sequencing.
Precision requires keen observation, concentration, mindful awareness and maximum effort. As we continue to reform our actions within each pose we realize that we are not “doing yoga” but that “yoga is done on us” through our diligent practice. Precision is the entry point to the deeper layers of our being through the diligent use of the technical details of an asana to go beyond the periphery to the core of our being.
Timing and maintaining an asana is required to build stamina in a yoga pose to effectively reap its benefits. Endurance, power and confidence enables us to become an observer and use our powers of concentration and awareness to make the necessary adjustments based upon our own special considerations and concerns. Conscious use of the breath to spread our consciousness to parts of our body that require our attention can bring transformation to our yoga practice. Strength and stamina results from the balance between effort and ease!
Each yoga asana, or posture has a sequence within it. Through direct knowledge from our teachers and self-study we learn the the outward technique, shape and geometry of each pose. We begin to understand part-by-part how to create the proper environment with our physical body. This is when yoga truly begins. It begins when we go inside and use the breath as an internal bath to purify both body and mind. Sequencing is important for gaining the cumulative effects of an asana.
It is actually very simple, much like how I observed B.K. S Iyengar living his life on a daily basis. Regular mindful practice, devotion to his students, family and community and gratitude for all that yoga has brought to his life.