Getting certified in Iyengar Yoga

This weekend we hosted the national Iyengar Yoga assessments in Utrecht. It was intense in many ways! Nowadays it seems like more and more people choose to teach yoga, and there are many options to quickly get certified as a teacher. But not in Iyengar yoga… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Getting certified in this style requires one to be a student for at least 3 years. Then, the student has to find a mentoring teacher and a recommending teacher that are at least Junior Intermediate level. One then has to apprentice with those teachers for at least three additional years. The actual practice and self-study is by far the most important element in this journey, because yoga is an experiential subject. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Then at the assessment, the candidates have to demonstrate their own abilities in the asanas from their Introductory syllabus: 64 poses that initially look deceptively simple compared to some of the Instagram favorites like handstands and dropbacks, but try to perform them under the watchful eyes of 3 assessors and a moderator! Candidates are not only expected to be able to ‘make the shapes’ but they also have to show maturity and insight in the mechanics of the poses and their own abilities. A pretty daunting task! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Following the practice demonstration, candidates have to teach 3 randomly chosen asanas plus Sirsasana and Sarvangasana to a small group of volunteer students. And prior to the assessment day, they wrote a theory paper with questions about anatomy, philosophy and teaching theory. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This year, after a long and hot day we were very happy to see 4 of the participants in our In-Depth course and mentoring program pass the assessment! Congratulations to Leen, Anne, Carla and Sabrina!

iYoga t-shirts all over the world!

Wow, our signature iYoga t-shirt (design by Atelier Oost) went to the other side of the world! Eyal Shifroni took it to Australia and New Zealand, and two of our Czech friends were spotted wearing the shirt in Vienna.
How wonderful to share this practice all over the globe!

Maitri, karuna, mudita, upekshanam…

B.K.S Iyengar states in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, in his commentary on Sutra 1.33: “This sutra asks us to rejoice with the happy, to be compassionate to the sorrowful, friendly to the virtuous, and indifferent to those who continue to live in vice despite our attempts to change them.”

Patanjali lists this as the first of the contemplative practices that are the antidote to the obstacles that come on the path of every practitioner. Friendliness not as a means to make someone else’s life easier but to still our own mind. Compassion for those who are suffering, not to alleviate their pain but as an antidote to our own inclination to harm. Not letting ourselves be touched by evil around us, so that we can rise above that lower tendency within ourselves.

I find it very moving that these words were written in a world so far removed from ours, so many years ago, by people living the same human experience as we are now. The circumstances may be very different but the struggles certainly weren’t!

“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.” ~Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.33.

Full ‘fietsenstalling’!

You may have noticed that we have a full house at iYoga these days… many people from all across the country and even from all across the globe came to enjoy a course on yoga philosophy with wonderful teachers Gitte Bechsgaard and Sheila Haswell. We can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day!

Are you curious about what we’re learning? Gitte teaches an all-level class together with Hiske, tomorrow from 18.00-20.30. Join us for 45 minutes of asana practice followed by an introduction to Sanskrit chanting and a lecture on how this all ties together with what you do in yoga classes – and in life!

Psychophysical Lab

We are super happy to have hosted Eyal Shifroni in Utrecht again to share his insights with us. His new book is a very interesting take on yoga – not just the technical or anatomical aspects of practicing yoga but also the psychological effects, placed in a context of how the mind-body-dichotomy has been viewed throughout philosophical history. Don’t be intimidated by this description though, it’s also a very practical guide that you can use on the mat. We love it! You can see a small video in which he introduces the concepts from the book here, and some of the explorations from the book are captured in this video. Over the weekend,  Eyal made the concepts from the book come to life in a very practical and tangible way, reminding us about how the techniques and props we use in Iyengar yoga affect our whole embodiment.

5!

A little over 5 years ago, we sat down and said: we want to create a space where people can practice and learn and enjoy yoga. A lot has happened since. We started in our little pop-up at the Minrebroederstraat, had a great time there, went through a lot of good times and some challenging ones. Now there’s this space at the Amsterdamsestraatweg that just fell into our lap, where we feel at home and hopefully many more people will feel at home too.
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We are infinitely grateful for all those that join us – the teachers and students and fellow practitioners. Here’s to the next 5 years! We have had a wonderful little party and will celebrate further with our very own branded t-shirts, made from organic bamboo/cotton, printed locally and eco-friendly by the wonderful Katoenfabriek and designed by Atelier Oost.

Words from Geeta

In her last class during the Centennial workshop, Geeta started with a talk about how the body is such an important instrument – though it seems so negligible. “A small tilt can have great consequences, so you have to pay attention.”

“If you could directly touch the soul, my job is over, no problem! But you cannot. So you have to pay attention to make sure that the small (or big) calls of the body get silenced. The soul itself never pulls you here or there – you have to go to it, it is not coming to you.”⠀

“You have to take. It is all taught. But how much you take is your responsibility. How much you pay attention depends on your strength.

“The book is there in front of you, but you have to open it, you have to read.”

(all from my personal notes, so any mistakes are mine)

Geeta Iyengar

A week ago today, Geeta Iyengar led us through a children’s yoga class. All 1300 adults and a few dozen children were swept away in a stream of fast-paced jumpings, salutations and prostrations. The adults sweating. The children laughing and eager to do and learn and do. Geeta taught with such energy, fire and depth. She spoke about aging. She spoke about grief, death, and how dying takes courage. She reminded us to remember what it feels like to be a child. During the last 2 weeks she was so present, so full of life, and she and Prashant filled us to the brim with their knowledge. I hope we can all catch a few drops of what they rained down on us.

It is hard to imagine that now, a week later – even 2 days after the grand final of the Centennial celebrations – she is no longer there, in Pune. After a long flight, returning to a cold, white country, the last weeks almost feel like a dream.

We hope we can do justice to her memory. She gave her life to yoga, as she said ‘because I was attracted to the subject’. She gave her energy to teaching. She could be frustrated because we could not always catch what she taught. But as she said on her birthday, “I love you. That’s why I can shout at you”

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Thank you Geetaji.

Photo credit: Shael Sharma