Tag Archives: Iyengar certification

Some aspirations for the new year

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The word “resolution” has always troubled me. It is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” It has a future orientation that gets away from the here and now. So I will post some of my New Year’s “aspirations” as I continue to blog in 2015.

In my personal practice, I will continue working toward my Junior Intermediate 1 certification. 2014 was a year checkered with family crises that required me to do my Yoga as a householder doing his dharma, and not so much an aspirant. On the weekends, my mentoring teachers have been offering informal teachings to some of us going up for the next level. I appreciate the informality of their process this time around, as going up for Intro II was very painstaking. At this rate, I may be ready for certification by the 2016 assessment season.

The poses in the JI-one syllabus are a tier more advanced than in Intro II. They include basic arm balances and more elaborate forward bends than in intro II. But remember that in Iyengar yoga, one has to know each pose from about 20 different approaches to just get a “basic understanding.”

The quality of teaching is expected to be one tier higher as well. We can no longer get away with showing the shape of the pose and a few instructions. Now we have to link heavily from the origin of action. That does not always come from the base of the pose like we learned in intro II. Again, this process is radically changing my views on asana from once cherished “truisms.”

As far as blogging, I don’t intend to change much. I had a wonderful year with about 40k views and 850 followers. My goal is not to blog to get attention, but just to share my practice and insights with those who don’t have access to Iyengar yoga either because of costs or because of lack of teachers in the area. I also like to clarify the practice for those who are getting muddled in a sea of selfie and commercialized yoga posts out there. So whether I get 10 viewers or a million followers in 2015 is inconsequential to me. I am just doing my dharma by passing on what I know (which isn’t actually that much).

To put it out to the universe, I would highly prefer a more stable year free from family crises. I would also prefer a more stable year for my case manager job for severely mentally ill people. I wish my clients would find peace and less suffering from their illness and hope that I can in some way help them find that peace.

Reflections a year after becoming Iyengar certified

post assessment face

The face above is one that had just come out of the last portion of the rigorous two day Introductory II assessment for Iyengar yoga certification. Exhausted, hopeful, anxious and relieved, I could barely walk out of the venue site in Lemont, PA. I would find out the next day that I passed. That was a year ago.

It is also a face that represents four grueling years of teacher training. When I started the teacher training program, there were 17 of us. Only three finished the program with certification (one moved away and got certified through another instructor). Our program included five and a half hours of weekly classroom time and one weekend a month teacher training classes on both Saturday and Sunday. In the month before our assessment we met every weekend and would practice on our own outside the studio at a student’s home.

We trainees had to stand in the back of the room and observe. When we were competent enough, we could assist. Our teachers would allow us to teach one pose to the class we were observing. We would always get a lesson after the class: How do you teach this to someone with a knee injury? How do you teach this to someone with a back injury? What if they are too weak to do it this way? What is an alternate pose if someone has high blood pressure? Those and many more questions are ones we had to work through and show mastery in before our teachers would allow us to apply for certification.

I am grateful for my teachers Ray and Shelley for being so hard on us. Without them, I would not have had the toughness to get through the rigors of the assessment process. I have to say that there were many times that I questioned their methods. I often thought they were too strict. But I stuck with it until the end.

In the year that followed, I have reacquainted myself to my devoted wife and have made more time for her. There have been many changes in the Iyengar community. Earlier this year, Guruji received the Padma Vibhushan award in India. For me that validated his dedication to Yoga and its spread throughout the world. He was also in a good position to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, on an August afternoon, I heard the news that Guruji had passed. I immediately called my teacher Ray who confirmed it. It was a very sad time.

Luckily, there was a workshop taught by Laurie Blakeney at the time. She is a very long time student of Guruji. Her teaching respected the heaviness of the time, but made it light and healing for the O’ahu Iyengar community. Despite hearing of Guruji’s passing when she got off the plane in Honolulu, she was still able to provide a first class workshop.

Blakeney’s toughness to teach jet lagged in the midst of bad news comes from the same toughness that was taught in our four year apprenticeship. It is now dawning on me the value of going through such a difficult process. Like the pressure that makes a diamond out of coal, this process brought out the inner luminosity that was dormant in us.

Blessings to my wife, Guruji, my teachers, and the Iyengar community for this experience.