It’s the first week back to school for many. This is a great time of year, and many of us recommit to our disciplines with more zeal, or find new outlets. To be honest, I’ve been ‘back to school’ for several years, and am basically in the throes of it. When you decide to take on Iyengar teaching as a thing, you basically become a full-time student forever. The certification process is long and arduous. It’s worked really well for me. Basically it’s forced me to understand the work to a degree that I might not have otherwise. And it’s put me in the room observing my teacher, James Murphy, for hundreds of hours. Like jazz, we learn teaching osmotically. I watch what he says, and what he doesn’t say. I watch what he does, and doesn’t do. I move things around in the room, mainly to make things work out better for the students. Sometimes I rescue someone stuck in sarvangasana.
What struck me the most about Iyengar Yoga was the quality of the teachers, and the community that, in my view, is really based on teaching. Iyengar himself had a fervent commitment to teaching and learning. I lament that what I see in the contemporary culture of yoga has veered away from that. Popular classes are mainly lead sequences without any precision, detail or refinement. But rue learning is demanding, and not always polite. Generally, learning thoroughly involves unlearning habits that are holding one back, and that’s rarely much fun. But kriya yoga begins with tapas (austerity, mortification, inner fire), according to Patanjali. That’s where the parinarma (transformation) takes hold.
So, with the new school year now afoot, consider redoubling your commitment to your yoga practice. Study with teachers who demand the most of you. As Genny Kapuler often says, “Even a long life isn’t forever”.