It's Spring again and this means we, as a community, have the opportunity to study with Abhijata Iyengar, the grandaughter of BKS Iyengar Thanks to Zoom I'm going to share with you the points of her teaching that hit home. (all quotes are not exact and are from memory and my notes)
Without restraining the mind (citta vritti nirodha) it (the mind) can not see things clearly. The whole purpose of yoga is to have a clear vision of reality. There is a lot that we have to move past, let go of, refocus and recognize in order to see something clearly- like looking at a rose undistorted through a clear crystal.
The citta is made up of three elements, manas (mind), buddhi (intelligence), and ahamkara (ego).
In order to restrain the movements of the mind, we first have to be aware and the practice of asana helps us to study the consciousness.
For there to be clarity, there must be a level of awareness. Is the buttock in or out? Is the trunk even? Are the legs straight? Is the foot lifting higher than the thigh? All these questions use intelligence and make the mind penetrate deep within. When we are 'comfortable' in an asana the mind can penetrate. When you are not, the mind is 'disturbed'.
"Asana helps us understand that language of the mind easier to follow."
In order for this to occur, the citta must be in balance. If the ego is predominant it restricts learning. Mind is a good place to start learning and intelligence is the prop needed to have success in learning.
Which is more predominant when you are learning? Does the ego take center stage and you aren't willing to take a brick to help you understand the pose? or move away from the wall? Is your mind dull and doesn't want to do any jumpings or is your temperament more active and you are bored by holding a pose for a longer time?
Do you know the story of the blind man and the elephant? So many people have an idea of what Iyengar yoga is but they are only looking at one part of the elephant. And that one part may be why you practice, why you want to practice and that's great! But as you continue further along your path know that there are so many sides to this practice waiting for you to discover, uncover and bring you even more clarity of mind.
On the third day, she had us dropping over backward from headstand and handstand. Alone in my own living room, there is way more fear than in a crowded yoga hall in Pune and I struggled.
She said, (paraphrased) why do I make you do this? Why are these poses part of the practice? They are uncomfortable and scary so why do we do it? Because when we can face that fear or do that uncomfortable pose it gives us resilience, strength and courage that we can bring into life and when uncomfortable things happen we can take them with "a grain of salt."
What pose makes you uncomfortable?