Practice…an old friend

Everyone’s sadhana has its different seasons. There are times when “all is coming” and there are other times when the plateaus are like a desolate mesa in the desert. And there are times when poses which came so easily are no longer available to you. It takes years of mature practice to not get caught up in “progress” but rather be grateful that you still have a practice at at all.

I have been listening to series of talks from David Godman who is a devotee of Ramana Maharshi and has written extensively on his teachings. From time to time Godman talks about his own practice. He reflects on his meditations at Ramana-ashram where Maharshi taught:

I think what I got from sitting here apart from a lot of peace, a lot of quiet, is a cultivation of a presence inside me. You can call that presence “Bhagavan” (term of endearment of Ramana Maharshi) you can call it “grace,” you can call it whatever you like. It’s like having a recognition of an old friend inside yourself. You know its there all the time. For me that is the concrete result of doing Bhagavan’s practice in this hall.

That captures the same feeling when I get to do my own practice after I teach my morning class in the Manoa studio. This is the studio where I had my first teacher training class many years ago. This is the studio where I stood in back of class and just observed my teachers conduct class during my apprenticeship. This is the studio where I stumbled through my first assessment jittery and nervously under the hawkish eyes of three senior assessors. This is the studio where I got my first job as an Iyengar Certified Teacher. This is the studio that almost went down in flames when the neighboring nail salon had an explosion. And this is the first studio that I have grown a crop of my own students to become better practitioners.

Because of my life events in taking care of my inlaws and working a full time job, I have decided to postpone my Junior Intermediate I assessment for another year. That gives me a bit of relief to take care of family and work. Most importantly, it gives me more time to develop my own practice and teaching skills further. There may even be a trip to India in my future.

There are a slew of workshops coming up and I am looking forward to the intensity of them. Workshops always have a way of converting my predominant tamoguna into sattva guna through the fire of rajas from the senior teachers who visit. But as the wise words of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras say, at one point we have to go beyond all the gunas to reach the ultimate liberation:

IV.34 puruṣārtha-sūnyānāṁ guṇānāṁ pratiprasavaḥ kaivalyaṁ svarūpa-pratiṣṭhā vā

Until then, I will continue steadfastly on my Junior I syllabus.




4 thoughts on “Practice…an old friend

  1. Philipia Bates REnouf

    Love your stories, devotion to your family is yoga. I look forward to reading about your next lesson in life.


    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks Philipia! As I write this I am at my father in law’s bedside from his upteenth ER visit. I had to forgo a date with my wife to take care of him. We were planning on attending a meditation with a buddhist nun who is visiting town. I suppose my meditation is to be here with my father in law while he creates a handful for the nursing staff here at the hospital. It is all maya. Many blessings to you!


  2. k8macdo

    The certification program in the Iyengar tradition sounds very rigorous! What a contrast to the many, many current studio certifications. (I know you’ve written about this before!)


    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks k8! It is quite rigorous indeed, but I don’t think I would have it any other way. When I see what and how people are teaching who come out of 200 hour programs, it frightens me a bit on the future of yoga. I think many Iyengar teachers pursue teaching as more of an art form, like a canvas painter who continually works to perfect their craft. Some get paid quite well, while others just paint and that lends itself to its own satisfaction. I feel the problem with the Yoga Alliance model is that it is viewing yoga as just another profession. I recently took a research survey conducted by UC Davis about my teacher training and many of the questions asked about how my program prepared me for the “business” of yoga. The answer was “zero” because the emphasis of Iyengar training is to teach “yoga” not “run a business” which a vastly different endeavor.

      Long story short, it took me 4 years to get fully certified as an Iyengar Yoga Instructor and I am at lowest level. There are 12 levels of certification and each level cannot be passed without a two day assessment which require a demonstrated practice in asana and pranayama, a written examination, and a 40 minute class based on 6 poses from the syllabus. There is a panel of senior assessors who view you during the whole process and determine whether you advance to the next level. But making it through this process gives you a toughness to handle anyone who walks in the studio. It also gives you the compassion for those who cannot attain a pose and tools for which to help them.



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