Tag Archives: Iyengar yoga

Saying bye to an old friend

Tonight I attended services for Evelia Pineda Torres, who succumbed to breast cancer two weeks ago. The event tonight was a celebration of Evelia. There were about 250 people who gathered at the Elk’s Club in Waikiki in a beautiful sea side ceremony.

Even though it was a somber occasion, I was happy to see a lot of faces I haven’t seen for years and a whole lot of new ones. I was in sheer awe of the breadth of Evelia’s influence on not just the O’ahu yoga community, but other communities as well on our island. For example, there was a large contingent of Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts. Evelia was a massage therapist and would offer the frisbee participants massages during competitions. She was well remembered by that group.

She was also an avid hiker and many who shared the trails with her were in attendance as well. Not to mention her neighbors, and family who flew in from her native Mexico. Her husband was surrounded by love and and support from her large community.

I have know Evelia since 1999-2000 when she was a student with Daws, my original yoga teacher. I remember her back then doing yoga-nidrasana, which is a pose where you have both legs behind your head lying on your back. That was her practice back then, and she had evolved even more through the years.

Many at the services said they were shocked when they found the news that she had stage four breast cancer which was announced in December. She continued to teach classes until just after Christmas. Her students remembered her as a strong teacher who challenged them, but also showed a tremendous amount of compassion and was encouraging to new students.

One of the ceremony’s speakers said that a theorem in physics is that energy never dies, it just gets transformed. Evelia’s light burned brightly in this plane, I’m sure she continues to radiate her divinity on her next journey. She will be very missed here on Earth.

*featured image courtesy of Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center Facebook page

 

Nose to the grindstone

My teachers are in Pune for March and that means subbing for me. I was not able to sub as much this month as I did when they went to China six months ago because of new care giving duties. The woman who was helping back in October found another job, and my wife and I have been tag teaming like parents to get my mother-in-law to daycare and other duties.

I do have to admit I got a bit burned out when I subbed last October which meant I taught upwards of eight classes per week. Of course that was coupled with a lot of personal loss. Now I will be teaching about 5 classes per week. Not as intense.

The good thing about my studio is that the next crop of teachers in training will get opportunities to assist with classes which takes a lot of pressure off. They are the cream of the crop of my teacher’s classes and it will be exciting to see how they develop as teachers themselves. Teaching is an entirely different skill set than practicing.

My teacher Ray left us all a nice note at the studio to take time to work on our own Sadhana even when we are subbing. It was a gentle reminder. As yoga teachers we have to take care of ourselves. It seems like a no brainer that we would, but I have seen a lot of teachers neglecting their own health and relationships to teach insane schedules in addition to having a job and families.

Balance is always something I try to fight for. The universe can sure flick a lot of responsibility your way. A good practitioner can manage, but must be constantly vigilant about conserving one’s energy.

So I am looking forward to the challenges of this month. I look forward to seeing students I haven’t seen for a while in addition to new faces. Hopefully I can maintain the standards of my teachers and even teach their students something new. But the main service is keeping our humble studio moving ahead in the absence of my teachers.

Many blessings!

 

 

A nice Christmas day sequence by Iyengar teacher Hong Gwi-Seok (Peggy)

I want to wish all of you a merry Christmas.

Here is a wonderful sequence by Junior Intermediate III level instructor Peggy Gwi-Seok (aka “Badass Yoga Nun”). She has a very nice message and works to spread Iyengar yoga to the Detroit area.

As Blogspot and WordPress don’t play well together, I simply added the link.

 

Many blessings everyone!

http://stillinsirsasana.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-yoga-sequence-on-christmas-day.html?spref=fb

Helping my friend Evelia in her fight against breast cancer.

I found out on Facebook that a dear friend and fellow Iyengar instructor has developed stage 4 breast cancer. The Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center FB page announced Friday that Evelia Pineda-Torres has the illness and will be undergoing specialized therapy and has a crowd funding site to help her with her fight.

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I practiced my early days of yoga with Evelia in the park with our teacher Das. She has evolved in her practice to become a Junior Intermediate I Iyengar instructor. The one thing I always remember about Evelia is that she has a supremely intensive practice, yet is kind and always willing to help her students. She has helped me get yoga teaching jobs over the years and has guided the way for me in many aspects of my journey to become a certified instructor.

Evelia is a fierce warrior. One time her house burned down and she lost everything. While she was going through that she still taught classes without batting an eyelash. Even as she found out about her diagnosis in March 2015, she kept silent until now and her students were shocked as she has not shown any sign of weakness.

For those in the Iyengar community who know Evelia, please wish her support. Again, I will provide the link to her crowd funding site. Many blessings Evelia, and you will conquer this as you have all the other trials I have seen you overcome.

https://www.youcaring.com/eveliapinedatorres-713942

 

It’s been quite a year…

As I was walking around the block after tonight’s dinner, I had a chance to reflect back on this year of intense change. Despite having some major personal losses, this year has also had a few bright spots for me.

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One major highlight was finally meeting H.S. Arun. In the above picture, before a class in his Kailua workshop he asked me “how much do you weigh?” “200 pounds” I replied back. He then had me sit on him as a weight for his Upavishta Konasana. He asked me to take my hands to Urdvha Hastasana to centralize the weight. We really bonded well during the workshop. Thank you Robin Mishell for the photo.

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My classes are growing. I used to have an average of about 6 people per class. This year it has grown to about nine. The really nice thing about these numbers are that many of my students have been practicing with me for more than 5 years, and a small handful for more than a decade.

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I’m still in teacher training. Despite all that has happened this year, I am still working toward my Junior Intermediate I certification. Above is one of my mentoring teachers Ray Madigan with Laurie Freed (in Kurmasana) who passed her Junior Intermediate II this year. Along with Shelley Choy, Ray has been leading trainings a few days a month. I am blessed to have these small sessions with my teachers.

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My garden. I can’t express how much pleasure I derive from gardening. Watching life grown and change daily before your eyes awakens me to the miracle of this existence. Above is a tiny lettuce sprout springing out of the straw. I may even start another blog just focusing on my garden and the techniques of the Fukuoka style.

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My loving, talented wife. She has propped me up during my down times, and I have propped her up during her down times. We make a great team and I love her very much. Also helping to keep joy in our lives is my hanai niece Sasha who often joins us for our misadventures like eating robot served sushi.

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Lastly, my blog. If people keep viewing at the current rate, I should make 100,000 views this year. To me that is far higher than I have ever dreamed for this little blog of practicing Iyengar yoga at home. Thank you all for your readership, and I hope to have some great posts in 2017…

 

An early birthday recognition for Geeta Iyengar

Geeta Iyengar turns 72 in a few days. I would like to take a moment to recognize some of her many contributions to yoga.

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Being trained intensely by her father, BKS Iyengar, Geeta has helped in the development of a systematized curriculum for certified teachers. This has allowed for high standards to be maintained while utilizing an apprenticeship model mirrors how yoga has been traditionally taught for centuries.

Her book Yoga: A Gem For Women in an excellent companion to her father’s seminal work Light On Yoga. In reading this book for my certification and training, I have found it beautiful weaves philosophy with asana practice. She has also developed wonderful teaching materials in the Yoga in Action series which recently added an intermediate course.

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She has graciously taught many Western Iyengar instructors (including my own teachers) which has helped build the Iyengar method of yoga worldwide. She is still active in the certification process and has been signing diplomas of newly certified teachers since her father’s passing in 2014.

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She has developed many methods on treating issues specific to women’s needs through asana. She has also written many books aside from “Gem” about sensible practice for women at every stage of life. She now leads the medical classes at RIMYI in where people with specific medical conditions are given prop intensive asana treatments and sequences to help them manage their illness and conditions. She also trains teachers on the therapeutic Iyengar methods during these classes.

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In the past few years, her birthday celebration has been concurrent with the Yoganusasanam event in Pune where she and her niece Abhijata teach hundreds in a large badminton stadium.

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What is dear to my heart about Geeta is how she did much of the above while being a caregiver for her father during when he was ill. As a caregiver and yoga teacher, her example is an inspiration of what can be done as an ardent yoga practitioner. Happy birthday Geeta!