Some jump in joy when they get admitted to study at RIMYI. Some wonder why go to Pune to get shouted at. Some frown upon the increasing air pollution and opt for yoga retreats in paradise such as Costa Rica. What is that special thing does one can only “get” at RIMYI? Is it the particular teacher? Special “trade” secrets (a.k.a. fancy techniques)? New ways to do a pose? More class sequences fresh from the oven? Or simply to keep a personal tradition? A continuous professional development as a teacher? After more than twenty years of studying Iyengar Yoga, what does evolving in Iyengar Yoga mean to me?
As I was writing down the sequence that Geeta Iyengar (Geetaji) taught for more than 3 hours today, I realized that recollecting those poses in a chronological way devalues the ingenuity of her teaching. Her instructions were simple such as tuck the shoulder blades in, or lift the lower spine upwards, but the integration and understanding implants so deeply within me. It is not just about what poses she teaches or how she teaches, but more importantly our readiness and understanding of the effects of what we try to hard to “do.” For me personally, it is also the feeling of bhakti (devotion) that flows on this path. I love seeing Geetaji in a better state of health and with such incredible sharpness. Her generous energy pierces through layers of physical, mental and spiritual dullness. That brings joy and cheerfulness, thus bhakti.
Soup. “You just want to know how to make soup. Like a recipe. But you don’t bother with involving yourself in the making of soup. Making of a tasty soup.” Techniques to do yoga poses are the steps of making a soup. To actually involve ourselves in making a soup, just writing down more steps and getting more equipment is not going to work. We have to make the soup, over and over again, in different ways, to taste it ourselves and make adjustments. RECIPES are not the soup. You don’t understand the taste from looking at the recipes.
This echoes with the analogy that Prashant Iyengar (Prashantji) gave last week. To operate a light switch, we flip it to turn the light on and off. The mechanics of flipping a light switch are not difficult. They are simple. But what is the function of the light switch? Isn’t it to turn on and off the light? Have we tried to understand how the electrical circuits behind the walls that make the light turned on and off? Have you tried to study “light”? Why is there so much effort and energy on how to master the mechanics of flipping the switch? Techniques in a yoga posture are not yoga. They are a means, not the end. Perfecting yoga postures will not necessarily take us to Yog.