Intentions and Reflections


Chapter II of Embrace Yoga’s Roots is entitled “Tools and Best Practices”. In this chapter, Susanna Barkataki sets us up for success on this journey of reflection of ourselves and our practice of yoga. As with yoga, we may fall into the trap of thinking the journey must be “perfect” or “easy” or ” beautiful”, when in reality it can be uncomfortable and messy. Self-care and care of others as we read and ultimately discuss are imperative.

“It’s not about doing the work perfectly. Or about understanding every little thing. It is enough to be here. To start, to stop, reflect and, always, to continue.”

Embrace Yoga’s Roots – pg 22

A lot of this chapter does remind me so much of what the practice of yoga is all about, the “tools and best practices” are the same. Looking deep within ourselves and really “seeing” the totality of our embodiment sheds light on every truth, not just the ones we choose to see, but the ones that are actually all there. So, first we have to agree to actually reflect on ourselves and sit with all that comes up. In yoga asana practice, BKS Iyengar realized that this may only happen if we are able to stay and literally “hold tension” within ourselves, to not turn away or move too quickly through what is in the present.

“Holding tension allows you to sit in the entirety of your experience – pleasant, unpleasant, neutral – and allow the wisdom of simply being there to let new actions and awareness unfold.

Embrace Yoga’s Roots – pg 23

Like the 8-limbs of yoga, the staying and seeing of this process of “embracing Yoga’s roots” will bring to light every possible aspect of ourselves, which will not feel or be linear. Grief, joy, anger, happiness, pain, pleasure will all come and go. Our job is to stay with the process and our practice and continue with trust and faith.

“Yoga is firstly for individual growth, but through individual growth, society and community develop.”

BKS Iyengar

Our individual growth and our willingness to do this work of “embracing Yoga’s roots” is not just for us as individuals, but will inevitably include the community that surrounds us. Yoga as a practice must be taken off the mat if it is to be good for anyone. We cannot righteously practice in our yoga spaces and on our mats and think that all else will take care of itself. Having brave and courageous conversations in safe spaces and with people that are intentional in their engagement is something to dig deep into and learn. Pages 26-31 in Embrace Yoga’s Roots is a MUST READ if you are interested in or engaging with ANY community of any kind. When we gather together to discuss this book at the end of the summer, these guidelines will be key.

I am delighted that Susanna ends this chapter with the idea of Sankalpa – Yogic Intention. This was the theme of the recent Convention in San Diego with Abhijata Iyengar and has been on my mind since then. Abhijata and Prashant Iyengar both mentioned, like Susanna, that the translation of Sankalpa into English can be difficult. In the West we are good at looking at intention from the head, likening it to making a commitment – making lists, crossing off tasks, reaching for goals, etc… However, true Sankalpa comes from the heart and every action that comes from that intention has a meaningful and lasting impact. Embrace Yoga’s Roots is not something to read and cross off your list. We must have a heartfelt intention to share yoga in its entirety to any and all who might have interest. To Abhijata’s point in her keynote speech at the Convention, BKS Iyengar would say “yes” to any invitation to “show up for yoga” despite all obstacle, reason or judgement that would get in the way. His sharing of yoga went beyond boundaries of caste, class, religion, country, age, ability, you name it… His intention was there, so what is ours??

This chapter ends with our first reflection questions. I will be keeping my notebook as I make this journey with you. Please feel free to share thoughts or ideas that you feel you want to make an impact with to I will be happy to incorporate ideas and thoughts in blogs along the way, and then join us at the end of the summer for our discussion! Last year we did have the hybrid online option, so for those interested please stay in touch!

Reading for the coming week – Chapter III, Part 1

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.