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.
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!
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.
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.
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)
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”
Thank you Geetaji.
Photo credit: Shael Sharma
An extraordinary man
Today, it is 100 years ago that an extraordinary man was born. We are grateful for his lessons and happy to be here in Pune to celebrate the event with so many friends from all over the world.
If you’re in Utrecht, stop by tonight for the celebration at iYoga Utrecht – a rope yoga class with Joelle from 19.30 and a movie, music by Tally tea and some snacks from 20.45.
“I will never stop learning, and I have tried to share some of these lessons with you. I pray that my ending will be your beginning. The great rewards and the countless blessings of a life following the Inward Journey await you.”
-BKS Iyengar, Light on Life