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.

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#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.

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_ “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. 

Love, 

jennifer  

Proceed on the Path

 Geeta Iyengar

 

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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

Dr Geeta S Iyengar 7.12.1944 - 16.12.2018

Dr Geeta S Iyengar 7.12.1944 - 16.12.2018

Dr Geeta S Iyengar 7.12.1944 - 16.12.2018

Dear Iyengar Yoga community, 

We have received the following obituary for Geetaji, written by Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh.

In her father’s light, not shadow!

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Dr Geeta S. Iyengar, daughter of Yogacharya B K S Iyengar, and the seniormost teacher in the Iyengar community passed away today morning. She had completed 74 years on December 7.
Sister to her five siblings but a mother figure to the whole community of Iyengar yoga practitioners which now spans 59 countries across the world, Geetaji lived a simple life which embodied all the principles of being a yogini.
She chose to lead a life of brahmacharya (celibacy) and devoted her life to yogic pursuits.
As the director of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune, together with her father B K S Iyengar and her brother Prashant, she was instrumental in moulding and teaching generations of yoga aspirants from their Yoga-shala in Shivajinagar, Pune. Last year, the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for the best Yoga Institute in India was awarded to RIMYI. This, in a way, acknowledged her six-decades-long years of commitment to teaching yoga and mentoring generations of yoga teachers which has resulted in the Iyengar yoga certificate becoming the gold standard in the field.

The eldest child of Ramamani and Yoga guru B K S Iyengar, Geetaji was born near Tumkur, her maternal place but did her schooling in Pune, where her father had settled down as a yoga teacher.
She was inspired to take up yoga early and never looked back. An early attack of nephritis at age 9 had left her with only half a kidney and ever since, she became a keen student of yoga.
Decades later, when asked at a Q & A, whether she felt she was in her father’s shadow, she had wittily said, “I consider myself fortunate to be in my father’s light, not his shadow.”

In 2012, Geetaji conducted a mega class in Portland, Oregon, US, which has become a benchmark for the congruence between Yoga, medicine and Ayurveda. In this convention, she gave the principles of how to hone the art of observation and application of yogasanas in the treatment and alleviation of various diseases. She repeatedly stressed how yogasanas have transformative power and this comes with the alignment of the outer, inner and innermost bodies (sthula, sukshma and karana shariras) with the bahya, antar-anga and antar-atma sadhanas .

When people talk of alignment, they only point to external points of reference like arms and legs and muscles and joints. But here was someone who showed us how to align a life to the teachings of a Guru, how to align a life to the learnings of an art, how to align a life to the responsibilities of a practitioner (sadhaka), a teacher and a pillar of the yoga community.
Though a teacher in her own right, she always remained a shishya to her father and the subject of yoga till the end. Even at the recently concluded centenary celebrations of Yogacharya B K S Iyengar, where more than 1,200 students from 53 countries participated in a ten-day yogasana and pranayama session, she taught tirelessly for six hours a day exhorting students to experience the intelligence in their bodies first-hand and not depend on second-hand experiences. This insistence on self-learning and self-awareness in the body, mind, consciousness and breath became her defining ethic.
She authored the classic, ‘Yoga – A Gem For Women’ which is now translated into several languages. Her continuous exploration resulted in the volumes, Preliminary Course and Intermediate Course which became a beginner-level learner’s text guides to her father’s definitive Light On Yoga.
Her six-decades-long commitment to the subject of yoga has been something which will now inspire generations of practitioners.

For Geetaji

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When he was 7 years old, my son made this watercolor and ink drawing of Sage Patañjali, composer of the Yoga Sutras, a treatise on Ayurveda and Sanskrit Grammar. I almost sent it to Geetaji. He painted it green because I had told him once that it was her favorite color (big topic of conversation with 5 and 7 year old children), which I knew from trying to find a gift for her in Pune to say thank you and goodbye. Honestly, trying to buy an appropriate gift was a futile task, and my poor efforts made me feel ashamed. I also wrote her a letter and I hope I was forgiven for the meager gift.

There is nothing that can be bought that would sufficiently convey the depth of gratitude collectively felt for this woman’s efforts and devotion in the vast field of yoga. There is no adequate expression for what has been bequeathed.

What a magnificent life and gift she gave to the end

Devoted to yoga and to passing it on

There is gladness for her for her liberation

For us we have loss and we have a responsibility that grows heavier

There is yoga — all it’s glowing possibility and potential. That light doesn’t touch us until there is someone to teach us.

It takes a devoted sincere student, a human being, to realize it, explore it, open the subject up and out to everybody  and work tirelessly endlessly to help others and pass it on. To sacrifice oneself for yoga. To be willing to die for yoga.

She asked us to read her father’s books. That would make her happy. They have been a great comfort to her. In reading them and in practice we will continue to discover the way forward and the way in

They are asking us to go deeper to go further. No more shallow spreading of yoga. Find the light in depths. Go beyond death. Don’t be attached to what is transient. Seek beyond what dies to find the deathless state.

In deep gratitude for Guruji and Geetaji

Who are not gone

Who are with us still


All my love

In reverence

One of my Dear Teachers, Geetaji has passed after teaching over a thousand international students for days at the Centenary Celebration in honor of her father, B. K. S. Iyengar. She gave her energy and her breath to the end. She was resting in a yoga pose to help with breathlessness, and there she breathed her last.

A brilliant and masterful teacher, this kind and deeply compassionate yogini will be greatly missed.

Thank you for teaching Geetaji and giving your all. We love you too.

Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti


“on this path no effort is wasted,

no gain is ever reversed;

even a little of this practice

will shelter you from great sorrow.” 2.40 Bhagavad Gita

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photo by Jake Clennel 

Iyengarāsana (September 4, 2018)

“ANYONE who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. A strength which becomes clearer and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that can conquer them. Resistance is only a waste of strength.”

—Albert Schweitzer

Supported Variations of Iyengarāsana aka Uttāna Padma Mayūrāsana from Setu Bandha Sarvāngāsana— Please read below about how to support the project to have this pose named in honor of Yogācārya B.K.S. Iyengar.

The work to get here was based on a class taught by my teacher, Manouso Manos, at the March 2018 Intensive. The sequence ended with the last pose demonstrated on the chair (version of Iyengarāsana) shown in these photos. There is a variation shown on a quarter-round block or brick (this prop is pictured on Light on Yoga in the last photo). Setu Bandha Sarvāngāsana on this brick was taught to one tall man during the class. It is more difficult (due to its height) than the regular sized block but the shape of the brick fits the triangular shape of the sacrum very well. These variations are my play in practice with the pose, inspired by Manouso’s teaching. There was much more practiced (including all the preparation) than photographed, and I will be sharing the sequence from my practice (up to my certification level for teaching) with the advanced class at the Iyengar Yoga Center of Grand Rapids, on Wednesday, September 5th. “Senior teacher from San Francisco, California, and a long time student of Guruji, Manouso Manos has been calling this pose Iyengarāsana for years following a conversation with his Master! During their conversation it was Guruji himself who suggested that if there ever were a pose in his name it should have to be this one!” Join the effort to name this pose in honor of Yogācārya B.K.S. Iyengar: https://www.change.org/p/sundararājāsana-project-honouring-bks-iyengar-on-his-100th-birth-anniversary/u/23100774