Blog 15 – Prashant’s teaching

I wasn’t expecting to connect with Prashant’s teaching. He has a philosophical nature and I have a need for the tangible.

However, I found a deep connection with his teaching. He talked about how Iyengar yoga has become a demonstrative sport – a performance yoga. “The teacher says, do this, do that, turn your right foot out, turn left foot in, press the big toe down, don’t let the little toe come up…” He said our teachers are trying to teach us the ‘correct pose’ but there is no such thing. There is no one correct way to practice any pose.

He told us that the ‘why’ of a pose is more important than the ‘how’. The ‘how’ depends on the ‘why’ of the pose, not the other way around. For example. Teachers say the back leg must be straight in Uttitha parsvakonasana. Why? He made us go into the pose and bend the back leg, then asked us what happens to the spine when we do this? Does bending the back leg allow more freedom in the spine? Yes! When bending the back leg I found I was able to revolve the torso more easily and the pose became light. Once I felt that, I straightened the leg and the lightness remained. He says you have to learn when to intensely stretch the back leg straight.

Prashantji does not want our poses to be static, he wants them to evolve and change as we work in them. If you go away exhausted from trying to practice these static, perfect poses, what good is that? What purpose does it serve?

We used Uddiyana to work the legs in Uttita Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, and Adho mukha svanasana. He said that we must learn to access the breath in all standing postures. This will adjust the legs differently than merely biomechanical action. Biomechanical action of the body has many limitations and must be done in connection to the breath. The breath must be applied, whether it’s Uddiyana, full thoracic breath, or accessing the mind with the breath.

He told us we were all over the hill and (we are now going down). Perfection is not possible due to the aging process. Other aspects of yoga have to become more ingrained in our practice our energy force, our breath. I found this very interesting.

He said that we are just ‘doing’ the poses not ‘being in’ the poses. We are always looking outward, listening to our teachers who come with their own problems and limitations and we ignore the most supreme teacher within ourselves. The only way to evolve, to progress, to truly practice, is to listen to our inner teacher.

About EssentialYoga Studio

Roberta has been practicing yoga since 1988 and has been teaching yoga since 1994. She has trained under master yoga teachers Swami Padmananda, Patricia Walden, Manouso Manos, Father Joe Pereira, Zoë Stewart, Karin Stephan, Liz Owen and others. She continues to study with her Iyengar teachers, Patricia Walden and Peentz Dubble. Roberta has studied yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute in Pune, India during June 2011, February 2014 and attended Abhijata's intensive in Pune, India December 2016. Roberta is currently enrolled in Peentz Dubble's two year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training Program. Additionally, Roberta completed training and certification with Elise Browning Miller as 'Yoga for Scoliosis' instructor. She completed a 500 hour Hatha Yoga Certification program with AURA Wellness Center and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. She has been a Certified Meditation Teacher since June 2007 and has been an Usui Reiki Practitioner since 1989. Roberta's Personal Practice Philosophy: Health issues have changed and deepened my practice. You will see many photos of me using a variety of props. On days I don't feel well, instead of saying, "I can't practice today", Iyengar Yoga has taught me to say, "How can I practice today".
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8 Responses to Blog 15 – Prashant’s teaching

  1. susanne says:

    bert, this sounds really really interesting and encouraging. there are so many iyengar teachers who almost get mad when you don’t do what they say you ought to do…. looking forwrad to more! susanne

  2. Rit says:

    Surprise! The family dynamics there are most instructive and are played out in the Iyengar teaching clan world-wide. Be that as it may, Prashant has a very keen understanding of Yoga and the broader context it operates in. Glad to hear you are doing well.

  3. Rit says:

    BTW, not everyone in the Iyengar clan would teach the breath… to some it’s a taboo. I challenge that often. Without teaching as he instructs asana becomes to ‘back’ focused and nothing is done with the ‘donut hole’ in the front of the torso. Sad, but true!

  4. Rit says:

    This note is from Seigfried Bleher:
    Just a small note–Prashant teaches uddiyana kriyas in asana, not uddiyana bandha. The difference is one of degree and implementation–uddiyana bandha is more static, whereas uddiyana kriya is dynamic and occurs with the rhythm of the breath itself. (Please see comment from May 9). I haven’t tried uddiyana bandha in utthita trikonasana, but I imagine that combination would create hardness, whereas uddiyana kriya creates depth of action.

  5. Jan says:

    Sounds like it is in all of us to look for serenity.

  6. Ken Lidden says:

    I smile at this.

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