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BKS Iyengar and raga and/or dvesa or attraction and aversion

April 17, 2009

posted by Cory Washburn

Who is my Guruji? BKS Iyengar was born in Bellur, India. He had a variety of childhood illnesses, which shaped him and his view of what is yoga. I often think of him starting at the bottom of the mountain with nothing to get to the top. But with grit, willingness and imagination he not only scaled the mountain but left trails, railroad tracks, and built cars to help others up. I am still scaling my mountain and some days it is sweet and I am on the path, another day I need my fellow travelers to give me hints and suggestions, and other days pure dread. On hard days I remind myself that the hardest step is just showing up. Just show up with no expectations.

My yoga practice is filled with klesas. I ricochet between pleasure and aversion in my practice both on and off the mat. For the past couple of months I have been incorporating pranayama everyday in my practice. I wake up and before I do anything I do pranayama. Beside my bed I setup a place where I can practice. The alarm goes off. I lie in bed and start the internal monologue of how to get out of bed and onto the mat. It takes me 15 minutes but I get to the mat and then comes the tricky issue of how do I sit for pranayama.

Today I sat in Virasana. I have very tight shins and feet, needless to say I was uncomfortable. I sat in 3 variations of virasana, once with 3 bolsters, 1 block with a blanket behind the knees and a blanket on the block and finally 2 blocks and a blanket behind the knees. Then I went straight into prone savasana with my stomach on a bolster and practiced bumble-bee pranayama. Prone savasana is my favorite position. It is a treat for a job well done, but today it was down right uncomfortable. It felt like I had just eaten a huge meal. But I stuck with it, remembering that all I need is to show-up. It is my task to figure out how to scale these obstacles and not retreat backward. Once the uncomfortable sensation in my abdominals had faded to the background, I then realized that I didn’t get the vibration sensation I usually get from the hum. I had given myself 40 rounds to do so I tried to clear my mind and only concentrate on the hum and the counting. Far from satisfied, I immediately sat back into Virasana, 1 block with no blankets. It was emancipation. My breath was three-dimensional and unencumbered, my brain was clear and I had found grace.

I have been looking at the power of Pranayama in all my classes this month. I have found that Pranayama gives me the ability to start my day through the lens of “friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain”. I find that it helps me chart the course of the day in a better direction. It gives me the space to view the world differently. The world is the same but the lens with which I view it the world is different. It is I who have changed not the world.




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