Somedays, I’m just so thrilled that more people have yoga in their lives. And somedays I get so dismayed by what people define as yoga.
Teachers and masters who brought yoga to the west made it palatable and popular. They knew they had to make changes and leave out parts. I myself, became interested in yoga because I could take the parts I liked (injury solutions) and parse out those that I wasn’t ready for. But I believe something bigger and better than my sense of self pushed me on this path so that I finally get out of my own way and opened my eyes to the whole subject of yoga, beyond my own personal problems.
One of the great values of Iyengar Yoga. It starts out with the physical awareness and one can actually stay here forever as the body is a marvelously complicated mystery. But it is a never-ending source of learning and one can choose to explore.
When I went to India to study with the Iyengars the first time, there was no orientation, I was plopped into something that I understood so little about. I had to reach high to understand. The method is so good at breaking down pieces and layering in learning so that you progressively mature. There is also something to be said for sink or swim method.
Do you know that old story of the blind men touching an elephant? You could study, practice and enjoy the trunk for a lifetime. But if or when you are ready there is also a tail, a belly, a head, a foot. There is a big bottomless pool to jump into.
The other day, while in class with my teacher, (yes, I constantly study with my teachers because for me this is a never-ending learning process that fascinates me), we took a close-up look at the weight on the foot in standing poses. You’d think, no big deal right? OMG, try it ! (Don't get discouraged if you feel "what is she talking about?!" Get excited that as you continue on you are going to discover more treasures....in time.
Stand in Trikonasana and place weight on the little toe metatarsal maintain that as you press your big toe side down and feel what happens in the ankle, the leg, the hip. If you have an issue in these areas, you will feel and understand quickly.
(Isn’t that interesting? Those in pain or injured are more sensitive to the effects of an action. Aren’t they lucky? Turns the table on injury and pain. But that is a whole other topic for a blog.)
Many of you are rolling your eyes at me. I know, I geek out on this stuff. Why? Because this seemingly small adjustment brought to me such profound awareness.
Like I said, you might be practicing because “it makes me feel good,” and that’s where it ends. That is 100% fine and fantastic. The meal of yoga is so satisfying that even if you are eating a side dish you are being nourished.
And that’s why we teach Introduction to Iyengar Yoga courses. So that you are not thrown into a buffet where inevitably you eat everything and enjoy nothing, but instead learn progressively, sequentially layering knowledge towards deeper understanding.
Have fun practicing!