This week YOGO has invited our yogini friend and author Dana Damara to help us honor the life of B.K.S. Iyengar by sharing some observations on his teachings. Iyengar was a beloved teacher who developed Iyengar yoga, focusing on precision, detail and alignment. He passed away this week at the age of 95.
“The very first yoga class I ever attended was Iyengar based. This was some 15 years ago now when I was totally into Tai Bo, Spin and Step Aerobics. Kind of a unusual transition really. And truth be told, I hated it. I could hear the clock ticking, I did not sweat, and there was no music. It felt like such a waste of time to me. It took me a good month to go back and honestly it was like pulling teeth, but something kept me going back once a week.
It was the alignment…the alignment kept me safe in all the other things I was doing with my body. My risk of injury decreased because I really started focusing in on what my body was actually doing and where my limitations were. I started looking at my body as a skeleton and it inherently knew when it was in alignment and when it was not.
This is where the yoga begins, with the body. Our humanity gazes at our physical presence first because that is how we relate in the world. Iyengar put it this way,
“We begin the involution with what is most tangible, our physical body, and the yogasana practice helps us to understand and learn how to play this magnificent instrument that each of us has been given.”
This is truth… so we start there. He has also mentioned that many people come to yoga because of dis-ease in the body. They are hurting and they are in pain and they do not know why. He says,
“Health begins with firmness in the body, deepens to emotional stability, then leads to intellectual clarity, wisdom and finally the unveiling of the soul.” And, “A yogi never forgets that health must begin with the body. Your body is the child of the soul.”
This man was a sage living among us and when I read his book, “Light on Life”, my life changed. My perspective changed, my world shifted.
With regard to pain he also said,
“It is not the yoga that causes the pain, the pain is already there. It is hidden. We just live with it or have learned not to be aware of it. It is as if the body is in a coma. When you begin yoga, the unrecognized pain comes to the surface.”
I overflow with gratitude for this man’s gift of wisdom, practicality and grace. Because of his teaching I am able to share with my students a powerful flow that will keep them safe and in alignment with their bodies. They experience the breath so their mind can be clear. And they can begin witnessing themselves from a place of compassionate observation.
But more than that … if we can remember this:
Our body is a reflection of our mind and our soul. The intention of yoga is to get the body, mind and soul all in alignment so we can live our deepest truth. The word yoga means “to yoke” or to “unite” so how could it be any other way?
Iyengar I bow to you as do many others. Your legacy of love and light will live on forever. I am grateful for your teaching as it carries us all through life with a beacon of connection, strength and depth.
Infinite rounds of Om….”
Dana Damara is a celebrated yoga teacher, the author of Oms from the Mat, a Writer at Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, Contributor/Writer at Origin Magazine, and Writer at Rebelle Society. You can find her on her website or facebook.