Truthfulness Comes from within

...”There remains much to learn and much literally soul-searching work to be done...We have to apply our observation concerning the afflictions to ourselves. Therefore we need a mirror. So we have to continue our practice of yoga, all aspects of the practice we have learned hitherto. We have to refine what we already can accomplish and add new depth and subtleties in order to penetrate into the final heart of the mystery. We have to keep on questioning ourselves, or else transformation will not take place. Advance with faith, yes, but always call yourself into question. Where there is pride there is always ignorance. Before our consciousness finally gravitates to our Self and our Self is merged in the Infinite, there are many fine threads to be woven together into the shimmering cloth of our practice. We have to weave in a meditation of such selfless purity that the impersonating ego will be unmasked for all time. When the ego is effaced, the afflictions that accompany it will disappear. Another thread that we must weave in is an understanding of how the elements inform our practice...The elements of earth, water, fire, and air...correspond to the first four sheaths of body, energy, mind, and intellect. The final element that corresponds with the final sheath of bliss is called “space” and allows mobility and freedom in all the others.” —B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, p. 201-2. .

“Truthfulness, honor, is not something which springs ablaze itself; it has to be created between people.....

Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity. But it’s a movement into evolution.”

—Adrienne Rich 

“I want to unfold.

I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,

because where I am folded, there I am a lie.

and I want my grasp of things to be

true before you. I want to describe myself

like a painting that I looked at

closely for a long time,

like a saying that I finally understood,

like the pitcher I use every day,

like the face of my mother,

like a ship

that carried me

through the wildest storm of all.”

—Rainier Maria Rilke

Props for purchase at IYCGR

Props new in stock:

We have blocks again. These are hollow wood blocks made in India sustainably. They are $20 each or 2 for $36.

More bolsters: 4 dark teal blue, and we still have one of the light green. $50 each.

Still have belts and head wraps in stock. ($12/$10)

Standard size chairs are $40.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Benches are on order and all spoken for. If you would like a setu-bandha bench please order in advance.


by Jane Hirshfield

More and more I have come to admire resilience.

Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam

returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous

tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,

it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.

But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,

mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana at the Centenary Celebration in honor of Guruji Srī B. K. S. Iyengar  

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana at the Centenary Celebration in honor of Guruji Srī B. K. S. Iyengar  

This month in January,  Manouso taught this backbend, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, in an advanced class that was freeing for the neck and shoulders. It has been probably fifteen or sixteen since he’s taught me that pose. These backbends did not come easily for me. I can remember what it was like not to be able to sit in that front hip or move my chest to allow my shoulders. A big part of what my teacher has taught me is NOT to be dependent on him, and about the kind of persistent effort it takes to make progress through a  relentless approach to the preparatory work, repeating and repeating the actions, building the layers that allow a complex pose to evolve safely, looking and realigning, relaxing the extra effort. Class taught me how to practice.... Taking in a set of understandings from an experienced practitioner, a teacher, is quite a bit like being parented.  He can show a set of actions and positions to help improve a situation, like advising a child to put on a coat when it’s cold outside. The teacher has to show detachment over the resistance of the students. As a parent, tooth brushing is not optional for my children. It’s a job to remind them and make sure they do it while they are little. Ultimately we go out on our own and are responsible for our actions, how hard we are willing to work to care of our end of things, or make a change. A student sent me this recently:

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki: “Knowledge plus one thousand times equals ability."


The teacher attends to the class, the student learns to be attentive:

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity...

Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” —Simone Weil


The Postures Reveal

A day off from class, a day to play with understandings...

This trip, the first class with my teacher, after the chant, words and silence for Geetaji,

the first pose was Adho Mukha Virasana,

like Geetaji was teaching only days ago,  a lifetime.

In that “simple” pose he showed two weaknesses/ tendencies...

Now the work is looking exploring and strengthening controlling expanding spreading and gripping to find the balance. What arises in a “simple pose” is also everywhere. The postures reveal.

Studying Light on Yoga to see what’s missing from my practice: what’s not coming, why?

all entry ways in.

The questions get us interested involved attentive  until presence is everywhere

“ a class, although you are undoubtedly “doing” and, hopefully, learning you are subordinate to the teacher. The directing intelligence comes from him, and you follow to the best of your ability. At home, on the other hand, it is your own intelligence that is the master, and the progress that you make is yours and will be maintained. In addition, the will that you employ is yours. It is not derived from the power, the charisma, the strength, or the fieriness of the teacher. It comes from you, and its effect profound. This is not yoga by the body for the body, but yoga by the body for the mind, for the intelligence. There is a great difference between just practicing and sadhana. Sadhana is the way of accomplishing something. That something is—by effective performance and correct execution—the achievement of the real. What is real must be true and so lead us toward purity and emancipation. This is yoga sadhana and not the mechanical repetition merely of yoga practice or yogabhyasa. The end of yoga sadhana is wisdom.” —BKS Iyengar

_ “When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal, here in this very life.

As the skin of a snake is sloughed onto an anthill, so does the mortal body fall; but the Self, freed from the body, merges in Brahman, infinite life, eternal light.” —The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4:7

Chakorasana “pose of a bird who feeds on moonbeams”

Eka Pada Sirsasana “one leg head pose”

Skandasana “pose of god of war”

Adho Mukha Svanasana “downward facing dog pose” 

“Keep your focus.”

“Keep your focus.”


My dear teacher’s advice once when I strayed into fretting over the actions and behavior of others.

“Keep your focus.”

Our practice is to deal with our own stuff, physical, mental/emotional, intellectual. Over and over again witnessing what arises, what we aren’t seeing, our tendencies to hash into the same thoughts and behavior, cortisol squeezing down those paths like rain water flowing through the grooves of well-worn tire tracks.

In class over and over as a student I’m pulled out of that rut and into the now of yoga with his strength of will driving me to watch, do, let go, to overcome the drift of attention into  habits of avoidance and attachment that are like old familiar clothes that have long lost their appeal but happen to be there close at hand and ready to wear.

Sometimes the universe gives us great mountains of concerns to fear and fret over, relationships to grieve, wrong paths and mistakes to regret. “Keep your focus.” Yoga is the stilling of our own consciousness. Ultimately we can’t do it for anyone else. Those pains can provoke me to get  past the patterns of laziness and fear to sweep the floor in my practice all the more fiercely and intensely fearlessly until even the bare floor shines with the sincere effort. “Do your own work. Then step back” the Bhagavad Gita advises and my teacher models again and again.

Infinite Gratitude to my Dear Teacher,  who teaches me ways to travel from darkness to light, 

Manouso Manos, on his birthday.


 “Diamonds are hard and clear. It is their property of clarity that gives us the clue. Clarity is also the great defining characteristic of wisdom. We are seeking to cultivate wisdom, to transform mental dexterity or cleverness, which all people possess in some degree, into the penetrating clear light of wisdom. In order to achieve this, we have to toil in the mines, to separate dross, which is false, from what is precious because it is true.” —Yogācārya Srī B.K.S. Iyengar 

Know your Body: Anatomy & Physiology Class Series at the Iyengar Yoga Center of Grand Rapids

Anatomy & Physiology series continues this winter and will begin at the start in the fall.


#6 Anatomy of the Pelvis: January 19, 2019

#7: Nervous System #1—Brain & Skull: March 23, 2019

#8: Nervous System #2—Peripheral Nerves & Vertebral Column: April 6, 2019

with Chelsea Tiernan, Ph.d. in Neuroscience, and instructor at GVSU in anatomy and physiology, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Iyengar Yoga Practitioner since 2004. All interested students/teachers from any tradition and background are welcomed.

Happy New Year

“By persistent and sustained practice, anyone and everyone can make the yoga journey and reach the goal of illumination and freedom.

Many of you may worry that you are unable to meet the challenges that lie ahead. I want to assure you that you can. I am a man who started from nowhere; I was heavily disadvantaged in many ways. After much time and effort, I began to reach somewhere. I literally emerged from darkness to light, from mortal sickness to health, from crude ignorance to immersion in the ocean of knowledge by one means alone, namely by zealous persistence in the art and science of yoga practice (sadhana). What held good for me will hold good for you too....

You have the beginning already shown to you, and no one knows in what wholeness and felicity you may end. If you take up any noble line and stick to it, you can reach the ultimate. Be inspired but not proud. Do not aim low; you will miss the mark. Aim high; you will be on the threshold of bliss.” Yogācārya Srī B. K. S. Iyengar, Light on Life, preface.



_ “You must do the āsana with your soul. How can you do an āsana with your soul? We can only do it with the organ of the body that is closest to the soul— the heart. So a virtuous āsana is done from the heart and not from the head. Then you are not just doing it but you are in it. Many people try to think their way into an āsana, but you must instead feel your way into it through love and devotion.  In this way you will work from your heart, not your brain, to create harmony. The serenity in the body is the sign of spiritual tranquility. As long as you do not feel the serenity in the body, in each and every joint there is no chance for emancipation. You are in bondage. So while you are sweating and aching, let your heart be light and let it fill your body with gladness. You are not only becoming free, but you are also being free. What is not to be glad about? The pain is temporary. The freedom is permanent.” Yogācārya Srī B. K. S. Iyengar, Light on Life, p. 63.

With deep gratitude for the efforts of our lineage, wishing you all a Happy New Year. May you find freedom and unalloyed bliss in the vessel of your being. 



Proceed on the Path

 Geeta Iyengar



December 7, 1944 - December 16, 2018

"Friends, this is what I want to give, a small message to you. Let us practice with that reverence, let us practice having faith in yoga, and let us practice with the method that Guruji has given. It's scientific and spiritual. We don't know how long it takes, but once you are firm about it, it will definitely take you to that destination. Have this in your mind, and please practice accordingly. We have to clear our path of obstacles, objective or subjective. Let us proceed on that path which is more auspicious, clearer.

So with this, I just want to express that we will be practicing until our last breath. Have that firmness in your mind."

Geetaji; Yatra, IYNAUS convention, 2007