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Prashant Iyengar recently presented an 8-day online program entitled ‘Revisiting the Basics in Iyengar Yoga’. Carole Carpentier, of Toronto ON, had the privilege of participating in these classes. Below is an excerpt from her blog posts published at Yoga Toronto 196. The excerpt provides an overview of her thoughts on the sessions. You can read the full posts at www.yogatoronto196.com/blog.
I am fortunate to have time available in the mornings. Time is one of the luxuries of retirement. For eight mornings running, I was able to share two hours with Prashant Iyengar, the son of B.K.S. Iyengar. His work is founded on the teachings of his father, but Prashant is a noted teacher and author in his own right. These online ‘thematic’ classes, entitled ‘Revisiting the basics in Iyengar yoga’, are classic Prashant, as anyone who has studied with him in Pune will know. His focus is always how we must look more broadly than simply ‘doing’ an Asana or ‘doing’ yoga.
A quick look at Zoom’s gallery view disclosed over 750 people from all around the world who had tuned in to these online sessions. Quite an audience! And, yet, not really an audience at all from a teaching perspective. With 750 people, the sessions could not possibly be interactive. Prashant used his niece, Abhijata, as a live, in-person student, along with a couple of teachers from the Institute who were regularly spotlighted.
Prashant discussed a number of themes during the eight days. These included:
- The impact of age on the expectations and objectives for yoga. A young person would be focused on ‘toning’ the body whereas an older person would seek to maintain mobility, strength and balance.
- The importance of choosing a practice that is suitable for a particular person in particular circumstances on a particular day, and recognising that what is needed will change.
- The importance of being your own teacher and supporting this through exploration, experimentation, observation and learning.
- The interplay of mind, body and breath. How they affect each other. How Asana affect them. How they affect Asana.
- Different Asana for different purposes; the same Asana done differently for different purposes.
- The objective in practising yoga is to leave behind the culture of ‘gym’ yoga to reach classical yoga, the yoga within, yoga for stillness of the mind.
While these sessions were labeled ‘basics’ in Iyengar yoga, what Prashant means by ‘basics’ are concepts of yoga beyond the physical practice and outcomes of health and well-being. Also, ‘basic’ doesn’t mean easy. I heard nothing in the past week that I hadn’t already heard from him in two month-long study trips to Pune. I can only hope that I am perhaps a tiny, tiny bit closer to understanding what he means and how it lets us seek out yoga for stillness of the mind.
His discussions are based on concepts of yoga within you and the ‘basics’ are different ways or approaches to try and get to the yoga within you. Everything that he had us do over the eight days was to try to illustrate this for us and to try to get us to experience it.
Carole Carpentier studies and practises in Toronto ON.