Devise and Customize


Starting the second weekend with Prashant Iyengar, he continued to try to clarify this idea of “starter positions” from last week. There is more than just knowing what physical condition we are in. In fact, there is a whole “culture of preparatories” that include physical, clinical (in case you are ill), mental, emotional, environmental, etc…To begin in practice, you must know what you want to “flush out” or enhance.

These “preparatories” require that we know, are aware of , and are connected to our condition in that moment – are we depleted or “fit as a fiddle”, is it cold or hot, are we “indisposed or well-disposed”? All of these factors will guide us toward getting rid of the unnecessary and building the necessary for our education in yoga.

We cannot stay in the “physical culture” with a “kinesiological” approach. Can you activate the body without having effect on the breath or mind? Can you breathe and not have an effect on the body or the breath? No. This connectivity is the realm of yoga. “We are not robots – everything matters”.

We have to move our yoga “from the analog to digital” realms of connectivity. To continue with the dogmas of “points and actions” – do this, move that, etc… – means we have not yet connected ALL parts of our SELF. “We are stuck in the age of analog”. Our SELF does not end with the body and nor should our yoga.

This brings us to the meat of today’s lesson, and I will not profess to have caught all of it. Even Prashant knows that sometimes he can be hard to understand, but also knows that if we continue to educate ourselves through deeper practice, we will catch it eventually. He referred to “having a hashtag of #Prashant’steachingsareconfusing” (not sure if that is a real thing or not, but wouldn’t be surprised) and that listening to his teachings might feel sometimes like the forecast of “inclement weather” – you must be prepared to immerse yourself in a day of rain or snow. Having been a student and teacher for a while now, it is obvious to me that we catch what we catch when we catch it and the best we can do is just keep trying, keep preparing for the next thing to catch…

So, here we go…

As I stated above, Prashant mentioned that our SELF is not just the body, but we easily take on “I” as the meaning of our body – “I am sick”, “I am well”, “I am young”, “I am old”. We even easily take on “I” as the mind or emotions – “I am smart”, “I am sad”, “I am anxious”. In the practice of yoga we must also include the breath as “I”. We have to put body, mind, and breath into the roles of “association, instrumentation, and identification” to make every possible connection and move us into “the digital age of yoga”.

Once we are able to identify fully with each of these aspects, then body, mind, and breath can all take on roles of “activator, activating, or activated”. Taking Trikonasana as an example, how do we approach it from a physical part (such as the feet or certain parts of the feet) being “activator, activating, or activated” as opposed to the breath (strong inhalation or long exhalation for example) being “activator, activating, and activated”? And in Parsvakonasana (side angle pose) we explored the approach from the mental standpoint – how might the way you feel in that moment be the “activator, activating, or activated” factor?

To be able to identify and approach each asana from every combination of the above possibilities truly boggles my mind really. However, as Prashant reminds us over and over again, becoming “dogmatic” about one approach or one way is detrimental to our educational process. Even in the 300+ week course in Light on Yoga, the intention is not to do “the same Trikonasana” all 300+ weeks. “Things”, including us, change and we have to be willing to “devise” plans and approaches to every situation in every moment and “customize” our action, breath, or thought accordingly – not just in asana, but in life. The potentials and possibilities of SELF knowledge and awareness then open up and become endless.

Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.