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October 01, 2005

Video: Q & A with Mr. Iyengar and Annette Bening

Earlier we wrote a bit about the conversation between Mr. Iyengar and Annette Bening.

We have just added video to that post.

The clips are here...

View a video clip of Mr. Iyengar answering the question, "How important is a sense of humor for a yoga practitioner"

View a video clip of Ms. Bening reading a passage from Light on Life

September 30, 2005

Q & A with Mr. Iyengar and Annette Bening

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I wasn't sure what to expect from a Q&A session between Mr. Iyengar and the actress Annette Bening. She's a movie star, nominated for two Academy Awards. She is also a long time, serious yoga practitioner. She's smart, focused, funny, lovely, and tough.

Mr. Iyengar, known as the "Lion of Pune" because of his silver mane and fantastic eyebrows, entered the stage, his cream colored robes pressed perfectly. They sat angled towards each other on wooden chairs. "How important is a sense of humor for a yoga practioner?" asked Ms. Bening. And with that, the 500 plus audience cracked up, as did Mr. Iyengar. "If there is no sense of humor," he answered, "then life is not worth living".

View a video clip of Mr. Iyengar answering the question, "How important is a sense of humor for a yoga practitioner"

Mr. Iyengar can answer questions quickly, dismissively, or elaborate at great lengths, this last, as evidenced by his next answer. Ms. Bening asked Mr. Iyengar why he developed his approach to yoga based on alignment in asana. "My intelligence did not present itself in any way but in asana," he answered. He then talked at length about working with students who had medical problems, how alignment in asana could cure many illnesses, and how the very advanced practitioner can even learn to extend and contract the cells through focused intelligence.

Yoga can be an esoteric discipline. But Ms. Bening brought it right down to earth with the next two questions. Let's talk about lust, said Ms. Bening. The audience roared and I believe I saw Mr. Iyengar blush. She asked Mr. Iyengar to elaborate on the passage in "Light on Life" where he writes that as a teacher, he was exposed to temptation with his students. He said he developed a fierce demeaner to keep his female students at arms length. "A man faces lots of temptation in life," [women, too]. "I used to have students try to kiss my legs while demonstrating Virabhadrasana III." Everyone laughed loudly at the image of attractive young women kissing Mr. Iyengar's outstretched legs. And then came the lesson."I learned from my teachers not to do what they do. That if I fell prey to temptation, what would happen to my practice? It would die."

For those of us in partnership and with families, the next question and answer was a gift. Ms. Bening asked Mr. Iyengar to comment on a passage in "Light on Life," where he writes that being a householder is a form of spiritual practice. "Is yoga only to be practiced when you cannot face the disturbances of life? There is a frequent misunderstanding of the journey inward, that it's a rejection of the practical. To the contrary, spirituality is not ethereal but palpable, in our body. If we tidy and clean our house enough, we might notice that divinity has been sitting in it all along.

View a video clip of Ms. Bening reading a passage from Light on Life

Ms Bening's last question was, "Is yoga a religion?"

"There are two kinds of religion," Mr. Iyengar replied. "God made and man made. Man made has branches and demarcations. God made has none. And that is Yoga."

Pose and Repose

In his eloquent and moving keynote speech Thursday evening, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar charted for us the evolution of his practice, describing how it progressed from the outermost layer (the annamaya kosha, or physical body) to the most inward, subtlest level (the annandamaya kosha, the body of bliss).

Earlier that afternoon, senior Iyengar teachers Mary Dunn and John Schumacher treated about 50 intermediate level students to a master class, "Integrating the Sheaths of Being," designed to help us pursue that same evolution in our practices.

Though Mary and John approach yoga with obvious devotion, they also injected levity that reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously.

"Guruji is a hard act to follow," John noted as he began class. Mary chimed in that John would need to add quite a few tufts to his eyebrows to come near Guruji even in that respect.

(If you aren't familiar with the astounding Iyengar eyebrows, check out the cover of his magnificent new book from Rodale Press, Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. In fact, check out the book anyway; it just might change your life.)

John and Mary's playful exchange echoed Guruji's message that, though we should work hard on our asanas, we should always keep as a touchstone the lightness and freedom that are meant to be the core and the outcome of yoga practice.

Throughout the class, John and Mary provided precise and powerful directions to help us fully engage in the poses.

In Tadasana (Mountain Pose), for instance, they told us to:

Continue reading "Pose and Repose" »

September 29, 2005

Iyengar on Depression

In a nearly three-hour Q & A to end the Iyengar Intensive, BKS Iyengar addressed a number of therapuetic subjects. He demonstrated how he worked with a woman who had hip replacement surgery, a man who had a cancerous kidney removed as well as people with anxiety and depression.

His thoughts on depression were particularly interesting to me in part because my teacher Patricia Walden struggled with the disease as a young woman and credits BKS Iyengar with saving her life. Patricia has made the subject a major focus of her work and she and I have taught yoga for depression workshops at a number of Yoga Journal workshops in the past several years. Even so, in just a few minutes today, I learned a lot.

Continue reading "Iyengar on Depression" »

Video: Mr. Iyengar: Contentment in Discontent

WATCH Mr. Iyengar's response to a question about living with samtosha (contentment). He starts by saying that the state "has to come from within". But the path, he goes on, is not that easy and comes naturally only to fools and saints, with the rest of us left to figure it out the hard way. "In between, we're all discontent" he says, and the trick is to be content with that. (Watch video | Download MP3)

Video: Mr. Iyengar: Use Your House as a Prop

WATCH THIS streaming segment as Mr. Iyengar answers a Q&A question about how we can practice without the benefits of elaborate props such as the horse, which was used extensively throughout the workshop. (Watch video (Part 1 | Part 2 | Download MP3)

The response starts off by exhorting the audience ("you have to think!"). Mr. Iyengar then guides Manouso Manos through a wonderfully practical demonstration of how to do a variety of poses using walls, stairs an imaginary bed. Lastly, he closes on a measure of reproach to his critics who deride the Iyengar method for its excessive use of props ("Light on Yoga came before the props"), and closes by his humorous suggestion that props were part of his master plan to do yoga into his late eighties and beyond.

The Internal Litany: Samadhi Is In the Details


Urdhva Dhanurasana
Originally uploaded by yogajournalca.
This moring I woke up a bit sad--or at least pensive--knowing that our few days in the presence of Yogacharya sri B.K.S. Iyengar are coming to an end.

As I lay in bed, thinking back over yesterday's asana and pranayama sessions, I realized how much I've missed the Iyengar community, the part of the greater yoga sangha that still feels most like home to me. (In the past few years, geography, work, and other commitments have often made it hard to get to classes with my primary Iyengar teachers.)

I realized what I'd been missing because here at the Iyengar intensive it has already begun returning. Inside me, an internalized litany is forming; as soon as I start to practice (or even think about) a pose, detailed instructions from Mr. Iyengar and his senior teachers begin to guide me through my practice.

Just running my mind over yesterday's classes, I remember how the cue to keep the elbows pointing straight back toward the back of the legs in Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) helped me lift higher into the pose than I have in months--yet my spine still felt as though it were resting in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Another cue that helped me immensely was the reminder to soften the groin of the bending leg as I took it into Marichyasana III (Twist Dedicated to the Sage Marichi.) That small detail allowed me to bring keep my pelvis and spine much more erect than I often do, and to turn deeper into the pose with more ease.



That internalized litany of instruction is, for me, one of the great joys of studying yoga with Guruji and his students.



It's a joy because it constantly provides cues for improving my poses, for finding more length and breadth--more freedom--in parts of me that are stuck, dull, unaware, unconscious. Even more, it's a joy because of the effect of that freedom: more moments of deeper and deeper clarity and peace.

Video: The fierceness of gurus

Sri B.K.S. Iyengar on the fierceness of gurus. Click here to watch video.

September 28, 2005

The Lion of Pune/ Day III Sequence

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"For two days I have been the gentle teacher," said Sri Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar. "But today," he added with a huge smile, "today I am the harsh teacher."

Today, Guruji showed us how he earned the title "The Lion of Pune." That sobriquet demonstrates not just the immeasuable respect and affection we feel for the man we call Guruji, but also the humor and the slight tinge of anxiety that his fierceness sometimes inspires.

And that reaction is probably exactly as he wants it. That little tinge of fear helps keep his students on their toes, totally focused on their practices, when he is in the room.

Continue reading "The Lion of Pune/ Day III Sequence" »

The Last Class


When I came out of Savasana (Corpse Pose) today, my heart was full. This would be the last class that Guruji would be teaching in the United States. Towards the end of class, I felt the urgency in his voice, to pass along his wisdom, and to have his teachers keep his teachings alive as we move more into this new century. He told us that the practice of yoga was the practice of finding your authentic self. As he clasped his hands in front of his heart and blessed us, he radiated love, humor and compassion. Then he gathered his robes, and walked slowly out of the room.

Note: More video and audio to come soon.

Linda

In class Tuesday, Mr. Iyengar took a woman in a wheelchair up to the stage. She was missing her right leg below her knee. Mr. Iyengar's senior teachers helped her up to the tressle (the horse). He took a Halasana bench and many blankets, and put this woman, with one leg, into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). On both sides. Then he took her into Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III). On both legs. I saw how kind Mr. Iyengar was with her. How gently he touched her. And how her body opened under his touch.

I found her later that night. She told me her name was Linda, that she lived in New Mexico, and has been practicing for 35 years. I asked her to tell me her story.

Continue reading "Linda" »

Day III: Opening the Eye of Intelligence

I hope we're not breaking the rules here by blogging at all. Mr. Iyengar began the day asking that we not comment when the classes are over. "Yogis should be very careful not to comment immediately," he said. "Please take it [the instruction] and work on it. You are fit to comment on it after experiencing it, not before."


* * *

"I am practicing yoga even now," Mr. Iyengar assured us today, reminding us again that he is 87--and has been practicing without interruption for 70 years! You can see it in his vitality. He has been alert and present to details so minute--the direction the skin is moving during a pose--that the rest of us might not ever have noticed them. For every minute of class, he has channeled his energy into the instruction, into the room, into his students, with the ferocity of a tiger. While he never unrolled a mat and demonstrated a pose, he showed us in the most powerful way possible what it means to fully engage in practice. By never allowing his attention to waver from his teaching, by showing us the unimaginable specificity with which he attends to movement, he gave us an unparalleled example of what yoga is.

"It has not been easy at this age to do the work I've done these three days," he said. "I think I've worked more than all of you put together." There were peals of laughter--and a recognition of the truth. We'd been prepared for him to guide his teachers to teach us, not for him to lead class; we'd expected that he might miss a few hours of class. Instead he came even when we weren't expecting him (to the afternoon pranayama sessions and the evening performance) and flooded us with as much instruction and experience as we could absorb in three days--certainly more than we could ever dare have hoped for. "What little I know, I have given," he said. "If it has opened the eye of intelligence, please take it."

We so often talk of teaching by example, but rarely do we get such examples.

Doing Pranayama Safely

Even though pranayama looks simple and you may be tempted to try it on your own, ancient yogic texts stress that you need to be very careful. Do too much and you risk agitating your nervous system and there are reports of people developing heart arrhythmias and even psychological decompensation from doing the practices incorrectly. Particularly worrisome are long retentions of the breath.

For these reasons, it is generally recommended that you only engage in anything other than the simplest breathing exercises under the guidance of an experienced teacher. It's also key to build up your practice slowly and regularly over months and even years before engaging in more demanding exercises.

Continue reading "Doing Pranayama Safely" »

When Your Yoga Practice Feels Flat

BKS Iyengar began Tuesday's session by talking about the inevitable plateaus one experiences on the path of yoga. You may make progress for a long period of time and then you find yourself in a flat spell, where despite your ongoing efforts you don't seem to improve at all. In this plateau you may be tempted to quit your practice entirely, he warns, but if you persevere you may find yourself ascending again. Yoga can be disappointing but if you can hang in, Iyengar quipped, your disappointment could turn into an appointment.

This philosophy is entirely consistent with Pantanjali's teaching that success in yoga comes to those who practice consistently over a long period of time. I find this to be particularly important for people who come to yoga for therapeutic purposes. We are a society in love with quick fixes. People go to the doctor and want a pill or an operation to cure them, preferably something that requires no work on their part.

Continue reading "When Your Yoga Practice Feels Flat" »

September 27, 2005

B.K.S.Iyengar checks out the Yoga Journal blog


Proof that blogging, like yoga, is infectious: Mr. Iyengar, father of yoga in the West, checks out the Yoga Journal conference blog in our own little blogging room.

Plateaus

Today Mr. Iyengar spoke about being dissapointed in your practice. That hit home. After giving birth to twin boys 6 years ago, I haven't had time to practice as I'd like. And while my understanding of yoga has deepened, my asana practice has stalled.

So when Mr. Iyengar said, "Live with the disappointment in yoga. Bear with your failures. They are the stepping stones to climb up the lighthouse," I felt hopeful. Yet another reminder from Guruji that all is flux. Nothing is static, no asana, no practice. Everything changes.

Video from Day 2 with Mr. Iyengar

Mr. Iyengar describes the plateaus of yoga practice. Click here to watch.

Mr. Iyengar: "Live with your disappointment". Click here to watch.

Yoga of Motion vs. Yoga of Action? Mr. Iyengar: we're all branches of the same tree. Click here to watch.

A Light Moment: Mr. Iyengar defines 'holistic yoga'. Click here to watch.

Iyengar Intensive Pranayama

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Iyengar concluded the class session with a talk on pranayama.

"We do pranayama to store prana [energy]," he said. Primarily, we store it in the trunk, especially in the upper chest, the area at the top of the breast below the clavicles. And one of the touchstones of a proper pranayama practice is the softness of the skin at the temples. "The temple is the door to go inside the mind," Guruji said. "Soft temples are necessary for meditation. Meditation is passive reflection. And pranayama is half way to meditation! It is the gate to come closer to the self."

Guruji told us that one key to pranayama is properly lifting the spine--not by lifting the top of the sacrum into the body as many people have been taught, but by a much subtler movement: a gentle lift of the anterior spine that begins with the anterior surface of the tailbone.

Mr. Iyengar went on to compare the three parts of the breath--inhalation, retention, and exhalation--to the triune godhead of Brahma the originator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. As we inhale, the breath touches the atman, the self or soul, and moves it from the core of the body toward the surface, toward meeting the outer world. In the kumbhaka--the retention--the self is held in contact with the inner surface of the body. (When this contact recedes, Guruji said, you are no longer doing kumbhaka pranyama; you're merely holding your breath.) Finally, in exhalation, the body follows the self back toward the core.

"The spiritual value of pranayama is not [measured by] the length of the three segments of the breath," Guruji told us. What is important in pranayama is not the length and depth of the breath, but the contact between the body and the soul.

***

In the afternoon pranayama session, Manouso Manos elaborated in great detail on Guruji's instruction. He explained how instead of the harsher action of lifting the spine from the back body, which shifts us onto the front edge of our sitting bones, we should instead slighty increase the natural curl of the tailbone by drawing its front surface slightly back. "How big is this movement?" he said. "An eigth of an inch, a sixteenth of an inch, a fingernail."

But this tiny movement can help us find a perfect balance on the exact middle of the sitting bones. And this in turn creates a foundation that sets up the posture in which true pranayama can occur. When we get this posture just right, Manouso said, we realize that pranayama is not something we make happen, but something that we allow to occur naturally.

Iyengar Intensive Day 2: Morning Session

"Yoga is like an ocean: As the ocean is very deep, so yoga is very deep. In the three or four days I am here, I cannot give you everything. But I can give you the means to progress."

That's how Sri B.K.S. Iyengar began his remarks on the second day of his Estes Park intensive. Despite Guruji's impressive vigor, he's reminding the hundreds of us gathered here that this that this will probably be his last trip to the West. It's not only a last chance for us to absorb his knowledge and wisdom, but also his last chance to offer us the gift of his teaching, his last chance to convey to us what he considers the very essence of yoga.

In a sense, this is the beginning of the passing of the torch, the transmission of Mr. Iyengar's teaching lineage. When those of us lucky enough to be here leave, it will be our task to use that gift well, to create a ripple effect by taking what we've learned back to our home communities and sharing it with our students and friends.

Guruji touched in passing on a multitude of topics this morning, but three of his main themes were:
the use of props in yoga;
the importance of humbleness, of maintaining the open mind of the beginner;
and the spiritual essence of pranayama practice.

For much of the opening of his talk, he worked with his senior teachers Patricia Walden and Manouso Manos. They demonstrated many of the poses we did in class yesterday, first without props and then using props. In every asana, Mr. Iyengar demonstrated how the props can and should be used.

Many people have the misconception that props are there to support the pose, to make it easier, he said. Instead, we should think of the props as educators--in fact, as gurus--to point out to us the parts of our bodies that are asleep, the parts where intelligence is not yet flowing.

For example, if we're doing Parsvakonasana, placing the outside edge of the back leg heel against a block or a wall can remind us to ground that part of the foot--to keep both sides of the ankle even, avoiding the tendency to collapse the inner ankle and let the outside edge of the foot become light on the floor.

Jokingly, Guruji told us that "Yoga is a disappointing art." The difficulty of svadhyaya--the self-study that is at the heart of yoga--is that it brings us up against all our dark sides, all our weaknesses. But, he said, "Your 'failures' are your stepping stones to climb the ladder of spiritual growth."

He reminded us that the results of practice often don't come immediately. Our growth in yoga is a series of ascents and plateaus. It's easy to get discouraged and lose our way when we're on a long plateau, but that is precisely when we must redoube our efforts to maintain our practice.

On the importance of approaching practice with the open mind of the beginner, Mr. Iyengar said, "The learner must always have a humble mind; if not, they are no longer a student, they are no longer learning." While working with Patricia Walden, one of his most senior teachers, Guruji reminded us that from the standpoint of the immense amount we all have to learn about yoga, we are all beginners. "I may be the superior [senior] teacher to Patricia," he said, "but compared to all of yoga, we are both students. From that perspective, there is no difference."

Here's today's asana sequence:
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose)
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
Padahastasana (Hand Under Foot Standing Forward Bend)
Uttanasana (Intense Standing Forward Bend)
Virabhadrasana I (Hero Pose I)
Virabhadrasana III (Hero Pose III)
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose); first with the hands on blocks, then with them on the floor
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose); first with a rolled blanket under the thighs near the knees, then without
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana [again]
Dhanurasana [again]
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend); first with a rolled mat or blanket under the sitting bones, then with it under the heels, and then with a prop under the sitting bones and the heels

After the practice sequence, Mr. Iyengar spoke on pranayama. I hope to write more about that later, but for now I have to run off to our afternoon session--and do pranayama, instead of writing about it.

Guruji'sVoice

800 of us sat cross-legged, hands in Anjali Mudra, or prayer position. Mr. Iyengar began the Invocation to Patanjali. His speaking voice is strong and resonant. But when he began to chant Om, I heard his voice quiver - a sign of his passing years. I felt very touched by his humanity, by the truth that nothing stays the same. Mr. Iyengar has said, "May my end be your beginning." This is by no means Mr. Iyengar's end, and may he live a very long life. But I felt honored to be witnessing the transmission of the lineage, from the master to all of us, his students.

Guruji'sVoice

800 of us sat cross-legged, hands in Anjali Mudra, or prayer position. Mr. Iyengar began the Invocation to Patanjali. His speaking voice is strong and resonant. But when he began to chant Om, I heard his voice quiver - a sign of his passing years. I felt very touched by his humanity, by the truth that nothing stays the same. Mr. Iyengar has said, "May my end be your beginning." This is by no means Mr. Iyengar's end, and may he live a very long life. But I felt honored to be witnessing the transmission of the lineage, from the master to all of us, his students.

One Tree

"There is no Iyengar Yoga at all." This is straight from the lips of Mr. Iyengar.

Today he basically told us to let go of the distinctions we make about the various schools of yoga. "Iyengar, Viniyoga, Pattabhi Jois--we all have the same roots... Don't think of the branches," he said, reaching his arms skyward until they nearly touched--"think of where the branches meet!"

Looking around the room, I saw many schools of yoga represented. Among my classmates were Cyndi Lee, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Baron Baptiste, and many, many teachers from other yoga traditions. And in the dining room, I've talked to almost as many Ashtangis as Iyengar yogis. Here, we're all just yogis, without distinction (student-teacher or Iyengar-vinyasa) learning together.

Each morning, Mr. Iyengar greets his students with a bit of philosophy and this wish: "May God bless all of you." You can feel the sincerity in his blessing. In the past several days, he has told us many times that the reason we're here is to get what he has to offer; that he's not coming back and doing this again. Taking this in on two levels, I see how important it is to him that we each be present to what is being offered--right here, in this moment (Whether that's here in Estes Park, or a week from now when we're all back home)--and also that while he's on U.S. soil he wants us to experience his teaching as something beyond the limitations our minds might have assigned to Iyengar Yoga.

Again and again, he shows how his senior teachers are still learning, and tells us how he is still learning, and encourages us to keep on learning--not to be arrogant or lazy in our poses. "I learned from Krishnamacharya," he told us. "Now you are all seeing me." He seems to be saying that he doesn't want us to mischaracterize this yoga that bears his name. He doesn't see it as a static teaching, but as a living thing. Like all yoga, his teaching is really all about continual self-observation.

"If you know the body well, you know the soul," he said. "If you don't know the body well, you don't know the self." He added that while philosophers may say that you can't know the infinite through the finite, that in his experience, the end of the finite is the beginning of infinity.

Mr. Iyengar with Annette Bening

IMG_0805.jpg Yoga Journal attended a dinner in honor of Mr. Iyengar. In attendance was long time yoga practictioner Annette Bening, who will be having a conversation with Mr. Iyengar Friday at 1:30 pm Mountain time.

Adapting the Practice to the Students' Needs

YJ has asked me to focus on the medical and health aspects of what I'm seeing here so that's what you'll find in this blog. Walking around Estes Park the last day or so, it's pretty obvious how tired most people are. A lot of people just flew in yesterday and are dealing with jet lag as well as the effects of altitude. It's 8000 feet here and one of the side effects for those of us who aren't acclimated to it is that it's hard to sleep, only increasing the feeling of depletion.

It seems like a number of the practices taught in the Iyengar Intensive today were a response to that. Thus both down dog (adho muhka svanasana) and standing forward bend (uttanasana) were taught with the head supported on a block. Mr. Iyengar asked us to place the crown of our heads on the blocks, blankets or other support in the manner of headstand (sirsasana). He stressed in uttanasana that the ears were the "brain" of the pose, helping us figure out how to place the head. When your head is supported properly the ears are straight up and down, not tipped forward or back. Supporting the head this way felt more cooling to me and my mind felt calmer coming out of these poses as compared to the usual unsupported versions.

Continue reading "Adapting the Practice to the Students' Needs" »

September 26, 2005

Pearls

The room grew quiet. People moved together towards the door. Silence. And then thunderous applause. Mr. Iyengar entered. He wore ivory robes. His white hair wild, like a lion's mane. Enormous, bushy eyebrows. A red line running down from the top of his head to his third eye.

Some people prostrated themselves and kissed his feet. He walked, followed by his senior teachers, to the stage. The applause grew deafening. Guruji was clearly pleased, and moved.

So was I. I had never seen Guruji before, and his energy and presence was palpable. After the applause quieted, he began to speak. He said many things, including: "We are all students of yoga. In that way, we are all equal. I am a guide. I will guide you so you can steady yourselves"

"Asana is a bridge. It helps you understand the weather of your mind. You do the asana to see yourself."

And this, which to me seemed quite profound. "Let the energy of the intellect descend to the spine, and meet at the heart."

I am glad I have a lifetime to learn that one.

Wave after expanding wave of gratitude

Todd in action - Photo by Lori NeumannWhat would I feel when Mr. Iyengar walked into the room? How would you feel if you were a ballet dancer and had a chance to take a master class with Ballanchine? If you were a cyclist, how would you feel if you could get training tips from Lance Armstrong? And yet neither of these comparisons come close. For me and for thousands and thousands of other yogis, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar has been the deepest wellspring of our practice, the deepest inspiration us and for those who have taught us as well.

Two and a half hours before the class was to begin, students began lining up to claim mat spaces as close as possible to the stage from which Mr. Iyengar would speak. When he finally walked in, the room exploded with applause. And I discovered what I felt:

Wave after expanding wave of gratitude that brought me to tears.

As the ovation went on and on, I remembered how much yoga has changed my life, how many moments of tranquility and deepening self-knowledge I owe to this man and his teachings.

In his opening talk, Mr. Iyengar stressed that asana practice, to be true yoga, must be the union of the body with jnana, the intelligence. And that when we succeed in doing that, we are opening the door of bhakti--of devotion. We are coming into the temple of the body.

Video: A rousing welcome for Iyengar

Nearly 800 people welcome Sri B.K.S. Iyengar to the 10th Annual Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park Colorado. Click here to view video of his entrance.

Audio of his comments are available in an earlier post.

CEO John Abbott opening remarks

Yoga Journal CEO John Abbott gives welcoming remarks at the opening session. Click here to download the MP3 (9.3 MB)

Audio: Iyengar's opening comments

Following a rousing ovation (click here to see video) from a packed house at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO, Sri B.K.S Iyengar delivers his opening comments to attendees of Yoga Journal's 10th annual Colorado Conference. Click here to download the MP3 (14.5 MB)

Chanting of the Sutras

The conference is underway! The day began with the Chanting of the Sutras. Click here to download the MP3 (20.5 MB)

September 24, 2005

Mr. B.K.S.Iyengar is in Estes Park

"As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of a divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon the earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound. So many seek this greater Truth in the heavens but it lies much closer than the clouds. It is within us and can be found by anyone on the Inward Journey."
---Light on Life B.K.S. Iyengar

Shri B.K.S. Iyengar is currently in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for the 10th annual Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park. As a man whose work has defined and introduced yoga in the West, his presence could not be a more perfect addition to this event. We'll be bringing you live coverage of the conference, so stay tuned for more coverage, beginning Monday!

September 22, 2005

Getting Ready

I'm starting to pack my bags. Yoga pants, check. Yoga blanket, check. Block, check. Mat, check

This will be my third visit to Estes Park. I love practicing yoga surrounded by tall mountains. I feel insignificant in the very best possible way. But this year is different. I'm not just studying yoga, I'm studying with Yogacharya BKS Iyengar.

Continue reading "Getting Ready" »

September 21, 2005

Coming Up: B.K.S. Iyengar Day in San Francisco

iyengar_portrait.jpg Right after Estes Park, Mr. Iyengar will be heading to San Francisco where the Board of Supervisors has just named October 3rd in his honor. Here's what the Board said accompanying the Proclamation : ... B.K.S. Iyengar, through his intellectual and spiritual practices has mastered the techniques of yoga, making them accessible to all people so that they may fully experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras.

Other stops on Mr. Iyengar's tour for his new book, "Light on Life", will include Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Washington. Learn more: http://www.iynaus.org/







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