2014 YLT 10th weekend summary

Unknown-2This weekend we focused on using energy lines in new ways. So far, we have been using lines and circles/spheres of energy to create simultaneous balance and extension (moving out of tension) in the postures. The Hoberman Sphere has been our metaphor for breathing as expanding and condensing, and sustaining an internal, 3-dimensional spaciousness. The circle is the feminine side of sacred geometry, and to this we have added the masculine, the Unknown-3straight line, as an axis through the sphere to give is another polarity, such as head and tail, or heaven and earth. From these we have created the basic shape of an organism centered in the cosmos. The gyroscope gives us the sense of dynamic stability the is at the essence of all life.

For the next level, we will begin to explore some new energy shapes based on what are known in math as the conic images-1sections. These are defined by the different angles one can slice through a cone. We have played with the circle so the next to come is the ellipse. Like the circle, the ellipse is a closed shape, but where as the circle has a single center to define its perimeter, the ellipse has two centers, known as focal points. We use the elliptical imgresshape to explore  2 chakras at a time , one at each focal point. For example, when lying in savasana, or any supported position, we can imagine the heart chakra at one focus and the navel center, or the sacral center as the second. Any two chakras will work, but if you use the alternating ones, (1-3, 2-4, 3-5, etc) the chkra between can also emerge as the center of the two focal points. Earths_OrbitThe earth’s path around the sun, as well as that of the other planets, is ellipsoidal, so this is a very cosmic, macro-phase pattern to align with.

When we come to the parabolic and hyperbolic curves, we enter a new phase in our integration as these are open curves, coming from outside the body, passing through us, and then moving on again. From the conic perspective, the parabolic curve is Unknown-1parallel to the edge of the cone, where as the hyperbola is parallel to the perpendicular axis of the cone. Hyperbolas also come in pairs, but one half is enough for our somatic play. Parabolic curves are more focused, and such are used in mirrors and auto headlights. Hyperbolas are more open, that is the ‘arms’ can spread wider.

Try standing in a nice simple, grounded tadasana, find your heart center, and from there open the arms, pointing slight up and forward. If you have some anatomical sensitivity, align the shoulder girdles, arm bones, ribs and heart center into a parabolic shape and let the bones, muscles, connective tissues, blood vessels etc feel suspended and supported by the energy flowing through you. Widen to find some hyperbolic lines.

This can also be done lying down, with arms up and out to ceiling, or even with the legs, like a parabolic or hyperbolic anemone. In any pose, invite these in to light up aspects of your interior, or to bring into focus cells, organs or any structure that invites you.

Homework for the final sessions: Review, Read Hsin Hsin Ming, continue with Gita and Sutras as you feel inspired. Keep practicing.


Sparks of Divinity: A Tribute to B.K.S. Iyengar

Iyengar laughingIn honor of what would be B.K. S. Iyengar’s 96th birthday this coming Sunday, I decided to reprint the mini biography I wrote for the souvenir program for the attendees of the 1984 International Yoga Convention held in San Francisco. He was 65 that summer, just about my age now. He had already accomplished so much, and yet, from our perspective in 2014, we can see he was just getting started.

It is impossible to overstate the effects that this one man has had on the planetary and cosmic levels of consciousness emerging in the human in the early years on the millennium. Great achievements generate admiration and respect, but Guruji’s life evokes unfathomable awe. He was certainly very human. He had insecurities and emotional confusion like all of us. But when he was grounded in the cosmic field, his genius knew no boundaries, and he kept on channeling somatic brilliance right up to the end.  May we all find the inner light of yoga, and all those ‘clues’ he left us, that will guide our own continuous pursuit of the ever elusive excellence he so embodied.

The Genius of B.K.S. Iyengar can scarcely be appreciated by even his most senior students. For over fifty years Mr. Iyengar has been applying his incredible strength of will, his keen penetrating mind and brilliant intuitive perceptions to the exploration of the art of 84 convention coveryoga. The subtlety of his insight has enabled him to refine this ancient practice to a degree of scientific precision that is awe-inspiring in its simplicity and completeness. The artistic beauty of his asanas reflect an inner harmony with the universe that is breath-taking to behold. His therapeutic applications of asana and pranayama to treat a whole spectrum of ailments have astounded medical practitioners from all over the globe. His ability to infuse his students with the fiery discipline of tapas has generated a renaissance in the study of yoga that has spread to six continents. We are greatly honored to have Mr. Iyengar with us in the United States this summer and are especially privileged to have him honor us with a lecture demonstration on the art and practice of yoga.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundara Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918, in what is now part of the Karntaka state in India. As the 11th of 13 children, ten of whom survived, young sundara had numerous brothers, sisters and in-laws. One of his brothers-in-law, Professor Unknown-2T. Krishnamachar, a great scholar, student and teacher of yoga, became Sundara’s Guruji in 1935, initiating him with the Gayatri Mantra, and teaching him a few asanas. The early years of practice were extremely difficult for Sundara, whose weak constitution and stiff body made the practice of he asanas quite painful. Guruji was a kind-hearted but hot tempered man and his young student was too timid to complain. But Iyengar was a fast learner. Within a few months he gave his first public performance and soon after that was asked to train other students.

The next several years saw him traveling about the region, demonstrating the asanas to the Maharajahs, doctors, professors and others. In 1937, his Guruji asked him to travel to Poona to start a yoga program at one of the colleges, and Poona has remained Iyengar’s images-1home to this day. For the next nine years he persevered in his practice and teaching, in spite of serious financial difficulties. Students interests waxed and waned and income was non-existent for long periods of time. Many a day was spent without solid food. Physical exhaustion and emotional depression were constant companions. In 1943, through the arrangements of his family, Iyengar married a 16 year old girl, Ramamani. She became his life long friend, “guardian angel”, and source of tremendous emotional support during the difficult years. Their first daughter, Geeta, was born in 1944 and the family later grew to include five daughters and a son, Prashant.

By 1946 the fortunes had begun to turn for the better. More people were becoming interested in Mr. Iyengar’s teachings and he was having success in treating various maladies with the yoga asanas. The next few years saw his fame and reputation grow. In 1948, Shri J. Krishnamurti, the well known philosopher, visited him in Poona and Mr. Iyengar helped him with his asana and pranayama practice. This began a relationship that would continue for another twenty years. The West became aware of Mr. Iyengar’s work in the early 1950′s, with Yehudi Menuhin playing an instrumental role. Mr. Iyengar accompanied him to Switzerland in 1954 and returned again in 1956. By the early 1960′s he was regularly conducting workshops in Europe, training western students in the art of yoga. “Light on Yoga was published in 1964 and soon the entire world became aware of Mr. Iyengar’s genius.

In 1973, Ramamani died quite suddenly at an untimely age. This came as quite a shock to images-2family and friends alike as she was beloved by all. It was at this time that plans were being drawn for a new yoga institute in Poona, and in January of 1975, The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Unknown-1Yoga Institute was inaugurated. Thousands of yoga students from India and all over the world have traveled to Poona to study there. images-4Today much of the teaching is done by Geeta and Prashant, Two of Iyengar’s children and excellent yogis in their own right. The classic treatise, ‘Light on Pranayama, Iyengar’s most recent book, was published in 1981. This all encompassing guide to that powerful yet infinitely subtle art stands, in the words of Sri Krishnamacharya, as “a precious gem in the firmament of yoga.”

B.K.S. Iyengar has dedicated his life to passing along the knowledge and wisdom that he has learned. That so many of us are slow to catch on to what he is saying must be extremely frustrating to him. There is so much that he ca teach us, if we can only accelerate the learning process. But he always maintains his sense of humor in the face of our human frailty. As he often says with a mischievous look in his eyes, “I have given you the clue.” The seeds of his wisdom will continue to sprout in our consciousness for any years to come. With unswerving faith and dedication to the art of yoga, Mr. Iyengar has proven that one person can have a tremendous effect in the world. May we all be so inspired in our own lives so that our practice may help bring peace and sanity to the planet.

Editor’s Note: Bibliographical information was taken from “Body the Shrine, Yoga the Light“, published by the B.K.S. Iyengar 60th Birthday Celebration Committee, 1978.

New Writings From Krishnamurti

imagesAlthough the renowned spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti passed away in 1986, his legacy is alive and well in beautiful, and way too dry, Ojai, California, home of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America. This fall will see them release a new book, “The World Within”, containing never before released material. This is a ‘compilation of Krishnamurti’s hand written notes from his personal diary that explore topics discussed in personal interviews with the people around him.” This excerpt was published in the summer/fall edition of ‘Foundation Focus’, the KFA newsletter. For more on Krishnamurti’s teachings, go to jkrishnamurti on line.

All spiritual teachers encounter the challenge of language. Words can have multiple connotations, and the same word can have radically different meanings to a broad spectrum of readers. Here Krishnamurti uses the word self to mean to “I” sense created by the ahamkara. We might call it the egoic self as it is composed of likes and dislikes, ragas and dveshas, and emerges as thought. Krishnamurti writes a lot about ‘thought’ and the suffering it creates, but also describes how to see through, or beyond thought to wholeness, timelessness, eternity. For those of you studying Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, note his reference to ‘svadhyaya’, self study, and the awakening of viveka, discriminative understanding, by activating the ‘buddhi’, the innate or non-personal intelligence, to realize Purusha, the timeless.

“The creator of time is the self, the consciousness of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’: my property, images-9my son, my power, my success, my experience, my immortality. The concern of the self over its own state creates time. The self is the cause of ignorance and sorrow, and its cause and effect is desire, the craving for power, wealth, fame. This self is unified by the will of desire, with its past memories, present resolutions, and future determinations. The future then becomes a forum of lust, the present a passage to the future, and the past the driving motive. The self is a wheel of pleasure and pain, enjoyment and grief, love and hate, ruthlessness and gentleness. These opposites are created for its own advantage, for its own gain, out of its own uncertainty. It is the cause of my birth, my death. Thought is held by the will of desire, by the will of self, but sorrow and pain begin their work of awakening thought; and if this awakening is not maintained, thought slips into comforting beliefs, into personal fantasies and hopes.

But if the slowly awakening thought begins to gently and patiently study the cause of sorrow and so begins to comprehend it, it will find that there is another will: the will of understanding. This will of understanding is not personal; it is of no country, of no people, of no religion. It is this will that opens the door to the eternal, to the timeless.

The study of the self is the beginning of right thinking – that the self that is held in the will of desire. This self creates continuity by craving for immortality, but with it comes the everlastingness of sorrow, pain, and the conflict of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’. There is no end to this save in the will of understanding, which alone dissolves the cause of sorrow.”