Well today became a nice surprise! Someone else dropped away, so I got a call from Randy Just to see if I could be a panelist for demonstration during Abhijata’s class. Very fortunate, though it does change the feel of class a bit, Day 6 of back bending did not disappoint at all!
Of course the 1300 participants of this event are not seen by Abhijata, so how to teach back bends? Now is not the time anyway to expend extra energies and deplete our physical resources. But, to reap the many benefits and effects of the back bends, props can be used to learn the preliminaries necessary. And of course, props also allow us the space and the time to acknowledge and be sensitive to the movement of the breath.
Staying in a pose for any length of time can never be a physical endeavor. You cannot do it by mere musculature alone. With all the help in the world, if we are unable to breathe, there will be no pose. Abhi has been urging us to build our discriminative faculties to search and find out what we need for our practice and for our understanding of yoga.
The theme continued not to fall into the trap of dividing the practice of yoga into separate parts. We must come to understand the purpose for each piece – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. “Doing is one thing, but understanding is a different ballgame altogether.” She was asked “Which then is more important, the body arrangement or the breath?”
“For the beginnner the body is more important, no doubt. The body is something you can see. Why is God such a difficult concept to comprehend? You feel God, but you can’t see God. That is why self-realization spirituality appears to be so ethereal, because you can’t see. Breath is something you can’t see. Body is something you can see and touch.”Abhijata Iyengar, May 12 2020
Arranging the body in accessible back bends that can be studied and experienced instead of just done takes some experimentation with the props available and takes sensitivity to the movement of the breath within the space created. Knowledge will come from that experimentation and then maybe we may start to gain some wisdom. This is why there is a “BIG SCIENCE” behind the use of the props in Iyengar Yoga. This time and attention will allow us to reap the benefits of each and every category of pose and posture.
“The emotional center is in the chest. The moment you go for back bendings, you go into that vastness. Once you learn to go into that vastness, you can withstand any type of pressure and strain. Emotional strength comes with the practice of beck bending.”Abhijata Iyengar, May 12 2020
“Information is rampant and is at the tip of the fingers. What is lacking is knowledge. What is rare is wisdom. “Abhijata Iyengar, May 12 2020
In the doing there is a lot of information gathered. Then we must ask WHY? and HOW? We must begin to feel and sense and breathe to gain some deeper knowledge. In the end, with the determination of Iccha Sakti and reflection with each action, we may find ourselves closer to wisdom.