FROM THE PERIPHERY TO THE CORE. FROM THE CORE TO THE PERIPHERY.
Iyengar says that:
Flowing inwards, flowing outwards, unifying all the edges and borders… touching everywhere, all at once ~ that is Iyengar yoga.
Hence was the theme: From The Periphery to The Core and From the Core to the Periphery during the May 2016 Iyengar Yoga Convention in Boca Raton, Florida; where 1,200 yoga practitioners from all over the world, half of them certified Iyengar Yoga teachers, gathered to participate in the sacred and profound teachings of BKS Iyengar.
The event started with Manouso Manos giving a beautiful and captivating keynote speech – which hopefully will be available to the public on YouTube at some point in the near future, for I cannot even begin to touch where his words took me.
At each of the morning mega classes, various senior teachers shared their stories with us about their personal time with Guruji, many of which showed Guruji as a lively family man and a common man who was always absorbed in the present moment. There were tears of sadness, but also of heart-felt connections to the core of Iyengar Yoga: citta vrtti nirodha, i.e. the cessation of the fluctuations of consciousness. We also saw wonderful yoga demonstrations from the Ageless Warriors, Miami Heat, and a stunning musical Offering of Love with backbends by Rose, Carrie, and Patricia and music by Jarvis Chen.
Lois Steinberg won the Lighting of the Way award. The Lighting the Way award recognizes and honors IYNAUS members who have contributed extraordinary volunteer services toward the dissemination of the art, science, and philosophy of yoga as presented by B.K.S. Iyengar, and who have assisted IYNAUS in carrying out this mission. The service of Lighting the Way recipients has affected and benefited our entire yoga community over an extended period of time.
Geetaji (Iyengar’s daughter) at the last minute was unable to attend the convention but three short video clips straight from Pune brought her right into the Grand Hall where the mega classes were held. At the beginning of class Geetaji redirected our intent to a place that nourished our mental and emotional bodies, and she gave her blessings to generate a smooth transition of this rich lineage to Abhijata (Iyengar’s granddaughter).
Over the next four days, Abhijata led all 1200 of us first through a day of standing poses; the next day forward bends; followed by twists; and concluding the last day with back bends. Each day also included pranayama. Her 16 years of studying side by side daily with Guruji, BKS Iyengar, were clearly notable, with clear and precise language moving us from the techniques/periphery of the pose towards the core of our Self; her words opening the doors of perception towards an inner journey of yoga; allowing us to gradually and safely move from the known to the unknown, from the periphery of life to the inner source of life.
When we do a yoga pose, we often start with what we know and what we have learned from our teachers. In our practice, we often stop where we start: at what is known. We are reluctant or slow to explore further towards what is missing, what sensations are to be cultivated. Many students think that going to workshops and conventions would be worthwhile as an intensive dosage of information. What is missing is a regular studentship of checking with one’s regular teacher about what could be missing, what mistakes there are during the ingestion of information and what sensitivity is to be cultivated during practice. We seek the outer pose. But we do not see what we cannot do.
The joy of reuniting with long-time yoga friends and of connecting with new yoga friends is immensely nourishing. A sense of Iyengar Yoga community is quite unique. The periphery of the connection is found within our relationship to Iyengar Yoga: students, teachers, regional or national board members of Iyengar Yoga organizations. But the core of this connection is deeply rooted in our love for Iyengar Yoga, for a devotion to the lineage through B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta and Prashant Iyengar, and now Abhijata. It is also continuously reinforced through our collective sankalpa (intent) to share this connection with each other and to maintain it over time.
The whole event was joyous beyond measure. It radiated with the beauty and light of the Iyengar yoga community. This brief account in no way does it justice. Mostly, I was just happy to be in the room surrounded by so many people who love Iyengar yoga more broadly and I was grateful to be in the lineage of studentship of so many who loved Guruji himself.
- Trishka Lemos with Iyengar Yoga Aspen
So Trishka, do tell...
How does yoga play a role in your life?
Yoga is in everything I do. In every thought. In every action. Yoga is equanimity.
Yoga is about redirecting the internal noise of the mind to single pointedness and then no pointedness; it’s about ironing out the fluctuations of the breath. Yoga is about studying the self. Yoga is skillful action. Yoga is doing the right thing. Quite literally, yoga is the ‘chariot’ that takes us towards enlightenment. But all of that depends.. on our perspective. And so it is through the practice that one can begin to learn about the self, the mind, the breath: when the body is twisted; Inverted; Bending forwards; Bending back. What happens to the quality of the mind? The quality of the breath? What happens to our state of consciousness? To our relationship to our self and how we fit within the grand cosmos of the entire universe?
My personal practice is a daily practice, generally 3-4 hours per day.
In the morning, before I turn on my computer, cell phone, iPad.. etc, with the quiet and still mind of a nights’ sleep..I start each day by just sitting. I don’t time it. I just sit. Until I am done sitting. Sometimes that is 20 minutes. Sometimes 45. Sometimes only 10. It is not dictated by the clock. But by how I feel. Then I transition into pranayama for an hour. I always start lying down and then move to seated pranayama and almost always finish with nadi shodana.
After my morning practice I take my tea and a light breakfast, read philosophy and ponder over the sacred teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali; the Bhagavad Gita; the Dasmmapada; or the Upanishads. What do they mean? What do they mean to me? How can I live by these words? How can these ancient teachings guide my day to day participation in life?
Depending on the day, my asana practice comes next. Sometimes it has to wait until days’ end. Other times I can practice before lunch. My asana practice is never the same. Whether I am attending to the physical layer, the emotional layer, or he mental layer is inconsequential - for each layer impresses upon the next. All aspectss of the self are touched when the practice is integrated.
There are days in which I revel in an invigorating practice of backbends; or maybe stabilizing and grounding standing poses; or neutralizing twists; or calming and soothing forward bends. It all just depends on what the day brings! How I have slept! Foods I’ve eaten (never practice back bends after eating spicy foods!) even the alignment of the planets all affect how I practice on a given day. Regardless, a daily practice of inversions is always included.
The point is to practice! To be close to the subject on a daily basis.
So.. In a nutshell: Yoga is my life. My life is yoga.
What do you love to do? What ignites you?
TL: I am an introvert by nature. I like to study; to contemplate; to watch; and observe. I love to learn and dig deep with my studies. I also enjoy movement of the body, not only through asana but also through dance - me dancing, or others dancing, such as at the ballet. Other things that move me/inspire me are: Philosophy. Ayurveda. Poetry. Nature. Stillness. And travel. Good friends. And LAUGHTER! I love to laugh!!! Stand up comedy is fantastic - when it’s good.
Personal "Why" - Why do you do what you do?
BKS Iyengar says, “Only yoga brings peace”. And I agree! Weather it is asana, pranayama, or mediation… I practice because i feel better after doing! Clarity comes. Calmness comes. A sense of rejuvenation, light, and space and compactness within my body come. Ultimately.. indeed, I do feel more peaceful and more aligned with and within the universe. Yoga helps me to be gracious in life and to move with steadiness of mind and body. Yoga helps me to cultivate friendliness, compassion, and when needed.. a sense of letting go/surrender/detachment. Yoga brings refinement and has changed what I do and how I do; how and what I eat, read, and watch. It is through this refinement that I am learning that strength is not found through control, nor by brute force and gritting our teeth. Rather, real strength is found by harnessing and utilizing the collective intelligence of the body. We are at our strongest when every part is given the chance to participate. That is yoga - union.
In the end, asana and pranayama allow me to see and understand my mind, my mind stuff, and my consciousness. My daily practice takes me in towards my core allowing an inner intelligence to be ignited and revealed so that my inner most self can surface and shine back out into the world.
Hence, I teach! And I teach because I am so very passionate about this subject. And what is revealed to me through my own practice, through my studies with senior teachers, through what I have gleaned from this deep and rich lineage.. must not stay inside of me. I must move it. I must share it with the world. I MUST teach. As a bird sings its song, I must teach this vast subject. It’s just what I do.
Words of wisdom - If you had one message to share, what would that message be?
Practice! Practice! Practice! All the secrets will be revealed through your own practice. No teacher can give them to you. All the answers, all the secrets.. they are all within.
It is one thing to experience the shape of a pose. it is another thing to experience the universe that is revealed within each pose. Every asana, regardless of how difficult and complex, holds the key to this universe. When you experience that you are not confined to the smallness of your self you see that you are in fact, connected to everything.
Anything else you would like for us to know?
My favorite quote from BKS IYENGAR is: “As leaves move with the wind so the mind moves with the breath”.
The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States — IYNAUS — disseminates the teachings of B. K. S. Iyengar and his family. IYNAUS.org, the official website of IYNAUS, is your source for news and information about the Iyengar Yoga method, whether you’re a newcomer, an established student or a teacher. IYNAUS membership is open to all.