When you see this beautiful space that is the āsana hall at the Abode of Iyengar Yoga, it is clear why we must all leave our shoes at the door. Leaving our shoes off so the dirt of the outdoors does not travel inwards is both practical and symbolic. It is the beginning of shedding our constructions of self. These are the identifications and habituated thoughts/behaviors that obstruct our true self and keep us from alignment with the present. “Cast off the outfits of the mind!” Sri Prashant Iyengar has called this work of looking past our moods and modes of behavior, our roles in life which are actually in flux. Manouso’s philosophy talk today directed us all to regularly examine why we are doing what we are doing and how we are doing it. The role of āsana practice in Iyengar Yoga is meant to take us to this experiential practice right from the beginning as we examine how we are standing in Tādāsana (mountain pose) and experiment to find our way into other modes of being. Manouso reminded us of the importance of looking and actually discovering these actions for ourselves, that the practice of āsana was never meant to be an intellectual exercise, a collection of “points”. This misses the point entirely. Is there another way to be that could be more responsive and more in line with the present reality that we all share?
There is a photo of the shoes before everyone had arrived. Eventually more than everyone expected arrived and there are more than a hundred people, so this Intensive is very full and we all will need to be mindful in every pose and in every demonstration how what we are doing will effect whether the people around us have a place and props to practice or a view of the demonstration. It is understandable that so many want to come. We are all most fortunate to be together in class with our brilliant teacher.