For me, the keys to any transformative practice are:
PRACTICE + TIME.
Iyengar Yoga appeals to me precisely because it promises no quick fixes & promises that you will face many challenges.
In fact, one of the main ideals espoused in ancient yoga texts speaks right to this:
“The practice of yoga is firmly established when cultivated consistently, with devotion over a prolonged period of time.” (Sutra 1.14 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
Yoga explains the experience of serenity, provides recommendations for overcoming obstacles, and outlines practices to de-clutter your mind.
The ongoing practice of discovery is where I find the benefits of practice.
Through yoga, I remember and re-remember that living the life I want takes time, effort, and a lot of commitment. I learn over and over how I can relate to any obstacles in new ways. I bump up against my stuck places, and yoga practice helps me consider what’s behind the stuck-ness.
Spend just a few minutes on the Internet, and you’ll find 5 easy steps to any intractable problem or diagnosis. Usually, the faster I move to solve a problem (without seeking to understand) only exacerbates the original problem.
Here’s an antidote to “10 easy steps:”
“[Yoga] aims to map out a path that all may follow. It offers advice, methods, and a philosophical framework at a level that even a newcomer to the practice of yoga may grasp. It does not offer shortcuts or vain promises to the gullible…the light that yoga sheds on life is something special. It is transformative. It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowledge and elevates it to wisdom.”
–BKS Iyengar in his book Light on Life.
The other day a student asked me this question.
He came to yoga after years after hearing about it from his wife, a long-time yoga practitioner. This man’s relationship to yoga has developed quickly. Immediately after beginning yoga classes, he established a practice of his own. I could see from week-to-week that he practiced the things he was learning in class.
Nearly every week he asks me a question — sometimes about a pose he is challenged by, sometimes about what I said the previous week.
His questions let me know that he is seeking to understand the process of yoga and its promise of transformation.
My answer to his questions? No.
When I am teaching, I am teaching. I am there for the students, not for myself.
There are yoga classes where someone stands up in front of the group and does the poses, expecting you to copy what they are doing. This is the opposite of what an Iyengar Yoga does.
Iyengar yoga teachers are unique in that we guide students to a yoga experience that’s profound, intelligent and transformative.
We practice and train for years in order to individualize our approach for each student.
We provide you clear demonstrations of the postures. You are observed with a teacher’s well-developed eye so that you build your skill and understanding as you progress in your yoga from class to class and from year to year.
So when you come to class, I hope you will trust that I am there to serve you and guide you toward a deeper experience of yourself through yoga.
Although the poses can be quite difficult and require much physical effort, we are not doing gymnastics. What we are doing goes way beyond the physical. If you are interested in developing a yoga practice that sheds light on your whole life, Iyengar Yoga may be for you.
No matter what, you should know that Iyengar Yoga demands a lot from its teachers. Of course there are years of training and practice required. But mostly what is required is that we are able to see each student as they are and individualize our approach to support each person’s progress.
I hope that you will seek out a teacher you can trust. One who is always focused on you, and not just performing his/her own poses.