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Yoga Lowdown, BKS Iyengar
September 18, 2014

BKS Iyengar

Since BKS Iyengar passed away last month I have been thinking about the Guru/Sisya relationship.

In the beginning Yoga was taught one-on-one, the teacher and the student were in direct contact. And the teacher would design a practice for each individual student’s needs and temperament with adjustments as time went on and the student gained knowledge.

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali are short aphorisms to facilitate memorization, remember this was before written language therefore memorization was required, no notebooks to consult!

Group Yoga classes were begun in the mid-20th Century by Mr. Iyengar as the popularization of the practice of yoga made individual sessions unmanageable. This also necessitated the development of the props, i.e. blocks, straps, blankets and others, as individual adjustments given to everyone within a large class were impracticable.

In today’s Yoga classes there are practitioners and instructors that do not know each others names, let alone the injuries or conditions that need special attention and no chance for the instructor to give individual sequences.

I believe something is lost. It is good to find an instructor that you trust, respect and can challenge your practice and they can get to know your practice in order to help customize your practice. This doesn’t mean private lessons but, when you are given adjustments or tips in a group class, remember them and incorporate these gems into your practice.

But ultimately, your practice is up to you, the Sadhaka. It comes from what you learn in class, read in books and from your practice the day before. Keep seeking more knowledge, but also do not forget that much of that knowledge is already within.

“Yesterday’s maximum should be today’s minimum.”- BKS Iyengar Definitions from "Light on Yoga" - BKS Iyengar Guru- Spiritual preceptor, one who illumines the darkness of spiritual doubt

Sadhaka- A seeker, an aspirant

Sisya- A pupil, a disciple

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Marj Rash
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