Walking the walk (of practice)

 “There are walks in which we tread in the footsteps of others,

Walks on which we strike out entirely for ourselves.”

Thomas A. Clark


  My teacher, Manouso Manos, told the class at the recent intensive that his teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, taught his yoga classes with artful, subtle sequencing linking the points he was making through the actions of many diverse poses. However, this sequencing seemed lost on some or many students, unfortunately. Manouso said “my sequencing is not subtle, I’m hitting you over the head with it...”. On some level, that is true for me, for more than any teacher I’ve ever studied with (and I’ve only studied in the Iyengar lineage) from the first time in his classes in 2002, I noticed that I could follow the actions within the poses, linked and developed methodically, from simple to complex. In Iyengar Yoga, sometimes a pose or sequence of poses is taught like an artist layers colors of paint gradually to create and develop a three dimensional rendering from white canvas. Do This over and over (until it sticks) then add this and then this. Now All at once—All the points. The effect of this method of practice on consciousness is that it transforms the mind from distracted to focused, to potentially meditative, illuminative, present everywhere. While I can follow what he’s taught at one level, the teaching deserves more than just attention during class.  Giving the lessons repeated practice and study, with the respect and consideration as a deep work of art—more and more understanding develops.  Looking at What was said, and not said, how was it taught, what was emphasized, alluded to, what came before, and later, what did I miss here and there, and always, why? (Long, regular study with one teacher makes seeing nuance possible). Learning transcends the explicit lesson, sees the implications. Today practice was the sequence from the March 1 class (including Parivrtta Jānu Śīrsāsana), but since this was practiced recently, there are more elements that I wove in. Gradually practice opens up the lessons, exploring and playing with the relationships with other poses, arriving in other dimensions of truth and understanding