Portals for the Mind


As he mentioned on Saturday, posture is important as a foundation of the practice of yoga, but to end there is detrimental. Postures have to become portals of discovery, playing different roles in accessing the breath and the mind. We cannot take it for granted that these things just happen! He spent more time with us in discussion of how the “MIND-set addressal” is used in a “thought paradigm” for the purification and knowledge process of yoga.

“If I come to your door and knock and all you do is open the door and walk away, how do you think I will react? We have gone through the actions of having me visit, but without inviting me in, without acknowledging my presence, without starting communication, do you think I will stay? How many times do you think I will come knock at your door if that is the way I am treated? We have to recognize, invite, and welcome the mind into an asana for the knowledge process of yoga to happen.”

Prashant Iyengar paraphrased – July 2020

We discussed twists a bit more and many of us of course know that they can be physically helpful for the excretory process, but what about the mental excretory process?

Yoga is “yogah citta vrtti nirodha” – the cessation of fluctuations of the consciousness. To clear the mind of unhelpful or harmful thoughts, we have to connect to the “excretory process of mind”. The keys to that lie in the use of the breath in asana, namely what Prashant refers to a lot as the “profound exhalation” or “exhaling extraordinarily deeper and deeper”.

But the mind and breath can also be used to find space, to diminish or create energy, to balance emotions, etc…All of these avenues are the addressals that we choose to focus on in any asana, adding to our knowledge of Self.

He reminded us that of course you can effect change in your body and mind and breath through other means. Yoga Sutra IV.1 says “Accomplishments may be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi”. However, all of these are temporary except for the last ones – tapas and samadhi. We must put the disciplined work and attention and awareness in to burn impurities and strive toward profound meditation and complete absorption in our yoga practice. Otherwise, we are just “posers”.

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.