In the 6 months post a successful assessment for Iyengar Yoga Teacher Certification held at Yoga Darsana in Alhambra, California, the wisdom of Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar continues to unfold before my eyes. The levels of assessment correspond to the series of sequences Guruji developed as a guide for Iyengar teachers to unlock the complex puzzle of yoga. The series provide a structure to learning and teaching and establish a culture of continuing growth in the teaching community. Unique to this form of yoga, a teacher’s skills are continually being honed. And as the teacher develops, so does his/her student community.
“Knowledge is always something which is universal. It is not meant for one person. It is not individual, but every individual contributes. When knowledge goes in the right direction and ignorance is removed it takes all of us in the same direction. So I learn when you learn. When you feel and you understand, that gives knowledge to me. In a similar manner when I give knowledge to you, you also start to understand.” –Geeta S. Iyengar
What many people may not realize is the entire assessment system depends on volunteer effort inspired by Guruji and the practice of Iyengar yoga. I am excited for all of us at the Adeline Yoga Studio (AYS) to host our first assessment this coming August, 2016 for “work is love made visible.” –Kahlil Gibran, and AYS has plenty to share.
I found the initial assessment akin to a ‘coming of age’ ritual reflected in the enhanced quality of my teaching and practice that organically followed. To integrate has taken this past half year which, considering prep for assessment involves a bare minimum of 5 years according to senior teacher John Schumacher, is the time my innate magic ability to renew took as I now re-emerge with a new schedule of classes and much inspiration to prepare for the Junior I assessment. What foresight to require 2 years between the first two levels of assessment. As Geeta Iyengar often says, “The Certificate is not the end of your teacher training, it is only the beginning!”
Ready to engage more of this Yogic path and, in pedestrian terms, update my marketing materials, I stumbled across the symbol below of buck and hamsa. The image of a buck appeared to me in meditation while pregnant with my now 8 year old son Leonithas. At the time, I understood him as a symbol of my True Self witnessing with love my struggles but could not understand how to actively engage this sense of support or guide myself with his wise intuition. I had not yet the good fortune, the open palm of the Hamsa symbolizes. and the intuitive sense, the Buck, to delve yet into this abundant world of Iyengar yoga. Today and after beginning an Iyengar yoga practice at AYS six years ago, I experience the spirit of the buck, its grace, determination, vigilance and loving wisdom interwoven throughout my life. I feel it specifically when reflecting on: the AYS community witnessing my growth as a student & teacher, the determined and passionate guidance of the path illumined by B.K.S. Iyengar before and after his death, my teachers and the rich offerings of AYS that inspire greater health and healing and blossoming within myself as I move towards greater self care and an evolved home practice that is sustainable and non-violent.
The sensitive, observing eye of the ‘inner’ buck is key for I came to the practice with my unique karmic inheritance of mental and emotional patterns or samskaras in tow. As a teacher, the intensity of this particular practice of yoga requires a level of consistent, home practice that relies on a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Initially tho I discovered the practice turned up the volume on my imbalances as, in Jessie Holland’s words of Ayurvedic wisdom, my temperament or doshic nature ‘ran’ me. My yoga practice reflected those imbalances, thus, also increasing my awareness of them and the places in body where they reside. Simply put; the practice brilliantly sheds light on the work I need to do while simultaneously empowering me to do so. Each and every asana and pranayama practice imbues me with somatic experiences of mental and emotional health and stability that I can increasingly access day to day, moment by moment, to stem the reactivity that breeds negative samskaras. The victorious experience of a back extension sequence, the calm and inner presence enhanced by forward extensions, the intuitive sense and emotional neutrality nourished by Virabhadrasana II, all of these help turn the tide. I now realize how essential this practice is to my health and to reengaging previous work in counseling psychology. With the support of AYS and in particular Heather Haxo Phillips, I am currently working in collaboration with David Stern to over time find a venue wherein I can weave counseling psychology skills into my work as an Iyengar yoga teacher to support others in bringing out the buck within, wean off negative samskaras and successfully grow sustainable, balanced, healthy life practices.
– Rebecca Haralabatos, Adeline Yoga Teacher
Fundamentals to Iyengar Yoga 10 week series Wednesdays 7:30 – 9pm, Starting April 27th
Level I classes Every Tuesday and Thursday: Noon to 1:15pm,
Yoga for Cyclists Workshop Wednesday July 13th & 20th 7:30 – 9pm