Before sharing my thoughts about the workshop, Carrie suggested watching this TED Talk with Amy Cuddy:
I entered Carrie’s workshop with much anticipation. After practicing for almost two years, I was ready. I was confident I was competent. I was ready to join the front row. Well…
Carrie said that we are all beginners, but, to paraphrase Animal Farm, some of us are more beginners than others. But I don’t say that with any sense of discouragement or anxiety. I say it with a sense of awakening and excitement for more to come. As Einstein said (and I promise, that’s my last reference), as the diameter of a beam of light increases, so does the darkness of its circumference. Carrie’s workshop was such an awakening for me. It made me rethink everything that I know or thought I knew about Iyengar Yoga and thus, everything I thought I knew about, well, life.
I look back upon two of my blog posts and see how much I evolved from them in just the last couple of days:
In this post, I talk about a routine. Well, while some sense of routine is important, I now understand even better that there must be break in routine, that you must rethink the most fundamental poses and philosophies. You must learn, unlearn, and relearn to gain greater insight and enrichment. Carrie revisited this theme several times, but I’ll give just one example:
We were attempting to do arm balance on blocks, then two blocks. After several tries, Carrie “gave us permission” to go up with arms slightly bent, as a beginner first attempting this pose would do. Well, it worked for me, but what resonated for me (and I think the rest of the class) was that when we try new things, we are removed from our comfort zone, and that gives us greater appreciation and perspective. This viewpoint is critical for us so we don’t go stale. Yes!!!
In this post, I talk about tendencies of men to treat a lot of things as competition. Well, the competitor in me felt like I was “ready” for Carrie’s workshop. While a certain level of competency is necessary for this and other workshops hosted by the Institute, it really isn’t like what I thought at all. I have to constantly check myself on the competition issue, and here was just another example. It is important to see within ourselves as, say, for example, we learn from Athena’s power and grace in a particularly challenging pose. That we strive for some kind of attainment with the understanding that we never ultimately attain, and this philosophy underlines the learning/unlearning/relearning theme that hit home so powerfully for me.
And finally, there is beauty in yoga (and in life) of which I feel blessed to be a part, that workshops like these offer precious glimpses, again, on the level of striving for things and relishing and appreciating the experience:
On the last day, we tried going from vrksasana to several standing poses, and for some of us (including myself, of course!), there was that awkward out-of-comfort-zone experience. Then, Carrie demonstrated the transition with such breathtaking beauty and grace, it was SO INSPIRING!!!
I encourage everyone to awaken from their practice and attend these kind of workshops that the Institute so valuably offers. While our teachers in the Bay Area are so great, there are so many other teachers in the world with importantly different perspectives and approaches that will enrich lives so much more.
“All that is required for success in yoga is cheerfulness, perseverance, courage, correct knowledge of the techniques to be followed, moderation in one’s habits, and faith in the practice of yoga. Then the effects of yogic practice as enumerated by the sages follow. These are beauty and strength, clarity of speech and expression, calmness of the nerves, an increase of one’s digestive power, and a happy disposition that is revealed in a face full of smiles.” B.K.S Iyengar-
I just started working at the Institute this month and I feel it is a blessing to be a part of this community. I like to go to the altar where the murti of Patanjali sits and say a hello on the days that I work. In this building at 27th and Taraval there is a silent wisdom hanging in the air. It’s as if a bit of India found its way into the Sunset District of San Francisco and settled here. I wonder how many students have stood here before me stretching their minds and bodies? How many times have these walls listened to the Invocation to Patanjali as palms were joined and eyes were closed? I read this quote by Mr. Iyengar the other day and realized that I am still gathering my ingredients for this yogic recipe. For correct knowledge of the techniques to be followed: I’m starting with the level one yoga classes here at the Institute. I am grateful to be a part of this Iyengar yoga community where there truly are faces full of smiles. The quote above was taken from a lovely book, Yoga Wisdom and Practice (page 76).
May we all be blessed with perseverance, courage, and faith in the practice of yoga