My teacher coaxes the most out of us. We are sluggish, angry, distracted… He demands we lift the thighs, tighten the knees, and stretch the side body. Each movement requires effort, and in his presence I work to go further. But in the midst of all this I catch sight of many of the other students in the room. Some are several decades older than myself. Some are working with various conditions. Yet we work in unison, taking the body towards neutral.
BKS Iyengar often tells his students they must walk the line between confidence and caution. Injury creates fear and anxiety. Yoga asks us to challenge our fear, but it also cultivates discriminative awareness. My teacher understands that injured person who comes to his room to study yoga does not want to wallow in pain. They want to feel something else.
In my own classes, I’m so inspired by those who work to regain mobility that may have been lost through injury or other circumstances. Very often these injuries create so much self-inquiry that they are, in a sense, gifts. They send us on this path that defies simple description.