Geeta reminded us that we are all beginners at yoga. Today, she said something like, “You think I am not a beginner? I am! I begin each day, do I not? I start each day fresh. I do not know how my body will respond this particular day, so I practice and find out what it needs, what it can do. You all should practice like that.”
Geeta is absolutely right. What will tomorrow bring? I do not know. Tomorrow is my last day in Pune. I thought I would be ready to leave, but I am not. I feel that I just got here, that my practice is just beginning to unfold. Though parts of me feel tired and sore, I also feel fresh and ready to get to work.
I have worked incredibly hard here, but it doesn’t matter. Nobody should care. Tomorrow I will start fresh, to see what my body can do.
The story of my month cannot be described through the cups of chai I drank (though they were delicious) nor can it be described in the smile of the small children (glorious) or in the adventures I had (many) or the urdhva danurasanas I pushed up for (even more).
The story of my month includes what I absorbed from 150+ hours in general classes, medical classes, the practice hall and my lessons in Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy. But the real story of my month only boils down to this: the profound stillness I found inside myself. This month has been a study in consciousness, to see what the mind says, to see how it can be tamed, to see how the body can be set free.
The quiet that I have discovered came as a result of the experience of doing yoga, poses that I worked with more tapas than ever before. I made these discoveries because I was willing to feel fresh and see what my body was willing to do.
There really are only three Iyengar teachers in the world: BKS Iyengar, Prashant Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar. What distinguishes them from all others is that they are FRESH. Their perspectives offer a clarity that comes from their lack of assumptions combined with a deep knowledge of the subject. Their perspective comes directly from their own practice, deep, vigorous and sustained for 50 – 85 years each. Remembering what came yesterday, they do not assume what might come tomorrow.
They say that Iyengar yoga is a yoga of alignment, professionalism and props. Yes, it is this. But this definition is unnecessarily limited. We have missed the main ingredient that is right there in the teachings of each one of the Iyengars: we must have the willingness to be a beginner every day. When we go to the mat, we must let go of the tight grip that we hold on our own personal assumptions and instead we should look and see what we should do today for our body, mind and breath.
While there are thousands of certified yoga teachers around the globe, and millions of Iyengar practitioners, few of us have mastered the simple lesson to begin each day fresh so that we are ready to learn, ready to work. We are still caught up in our own personal vrittis: “I cannot do that because I am too (tired, heavy, short, tall, thin, inexperienced, injured, busy, you fill in the blank)”. These vrittis limit us, and hold us in back. But, we can overcome them if we challenge ourselves to practice with true introspection and challenge ourselves “to do”. This month has given me some shradda (faith) and bija (seed /support) to rise above my own personal narratives. And when I do, I feel quiet inside.
I am grateful to Guruji, Geetaji and Prashantji. I am humbled by their dedication to us. I am awed by their practice. I am inspired to work on my own freshness, to hard work and combine it with my own well of experience. I cannot wait to be here again.