BKS Iyengar died but his yoga legacy is very much alive. In me too.
Over a decade ago I spent an intensive 10 days one-on-one with an Iyengar teacher in Australia. All day. ONE ON ONE. I repeat that because already a highly focused method, all the focus was on me – every moment. There was no “Good, while that person is being assisted I’ll relax and daydream about surfing or contemplate my next pedicure.”
I did it to challenge myself. Like any great pilgrimage, it was life-altering in unexpected ways.
At times I wanted to scream at the teacher and throw the props in the ocean. Then it shifted and I softened. Other times I scoffed inside, thinking this was so unnatural to be practicing with so much ‘yoga furniture.’ It shifted again and I softened more. Although alignment was already my friend, I came from a very creative and flowing yoga lineage. I was more attached than I knew. All my resistances got triggered and at some point I realized that this was the point of this trip. It was about balance. For that trip I had to let go and flow in a new way, into the beauty of detail, precision, and refining the refinements. It reorganized me.
I will never forget the compassion of the teacher when I cried one day. I will never forget how it felt the first time my feet touched my head in scorpion pose. I will never forget the depth of release in the restoratives. And I will never forget my instructor’s admiration for her teacher.
Whether you have heard of Iyengar or not, the yoga of BKS Iyengar has influenced every yogi at some level. There are pieces of him in your yoga philosophy and understanding of alignment, and as you hook a strap around your foot or support your shoulders with a blanket.
At DevaTree School of Yoga, Iyengar is the grandfather of our Anatomy family tree, having highly influenced Anatomy Instructor Brenda Dowell through her teachers. We also credit Iyengar for the roots of the wondrous pada bandha (foot foundations) because whether you are standing on your hands, walking or meditating, your base of support greatly impacts the rest of your body.
This week there is a change in the air. There are unexplainable ripples that occur when someone with such a wide-reaching legacy leaves his earthly body. I can’t explain these ripples with words or prove them to you, but I feel them in my bones. His work is done here, and we are all better for his influence. As a yoga collective, we must be ready to take the best of what he shared and bring forth something new.
Thank you BKS Iyengar for the communities you inspired, the love you generated, the amazing teachers you mentored, and for teaching your yoga, your way. Whatever your next ‘assignment’, we know you will stand tall.