Tag Archives: Prashant Iyengar

…Four years later

I am writing this bit early, but want to commemorate the fourth year of Guruji’s passing on August 20. Sometimes when am in a conundrum about my teaching and practice, I will find one of Guruji’s videos on Youtube and just listen to him teach. He has very simple and clear instructions, but extremely precise timing on those instructions. Sometimes when I am teaching and feel I am rambling, I think about how simple his instructions would have been for the same concept and it slows me down.

If you listen to his children teach you hear echoes of him. Geeta is very precise. Here she spends several minutes teaching just the base of tadasana. Her translator, Italian Iyengar teacher Gabriella Giubilaro, allows you to absorb the instructions.

Prahsant is different. He says the name of the pose, expects his students to get into it then asks them to use their breath and kriyas to understand Yoga through their embodiment with very little reference to anatomy. In a two hour class he will only teach half a dozen poses. Students stay in the poses as he lectures. There are no videos of his teaching, but here is a lecture he gives about actions and perceptions in asana. This is another side of the coin in Iyengar’s teaching.

As Iyengar’s students, we use asana as a platform to understand the whole of Yoga. Very much like using a boat to cross the river, once Yoga starts to be perceived, asana no longer takes the forefront, but the deeper intelligence which the asanas have taught us.

As stated in my previous post about types of Gurus, the teaching of yoga isn’t so much the same teaching one would receive in a university where a subject is memorized and read about. Yoga is a personal technology which allows one to see his/herself as a manifestation of the whole and how to proceed accordingly in this embodiment in this short physical lifetime. Iyengar was indeed the master of using this method of teaching us yoga.

December 14 will mark Guruji’s 100th birthday. As a mark of this celebration, there is a petition to rename one of his hallmark poses, Uttāna Padma Mayūrāsana to Iyengarāsana. His longtime students overheard him saying he would like this asana to be one that people remember him by.

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Thank you for all you have given us. You are indeed missed.






Prashantji’s random problem generator

While we were all sleeping, Prashant Iyengar has emerged into cyberspace. He now has his own Facebook page and on it there are plenty of his teaching gems. As his students know, he takes words and turns them into a literal “sri yantra” of multiple meanings, mind-blowing statements, and just pure poetry regarding practice. He has teamed up with his nephew Shrineet to create “Prashnayantra: a Yogasana Problem Statement Generator.

Prashant says that in this simple app, “teachers may use these problem statements for their own study from a teaching point of view, or even just to help come up with a topic to cover in their next class; classes could use this to put up on a ‘ Thought for the Week ‘ type notice board; It’d be great to have a community of students that work on these problem statements, share their notes, and learn together. Maybe an online community too.”

For me, clicking on the “Get me a problem statement” tab is like opening a fortune cookie with penetrative statements and queries to take into my personal practice, or when designing a class theme. Here are a few of the “problem statements”:

Pay attention to Breath with a Consonant Soundform and an associated vowel (a, aa, i, ee, u, oo, ae, ai, o, au) Inhalation first in Back Bends, and then again in Sarvangasana. Study the key differences between the two cases 

Closely study the impact and tuning of weight/gravity distribution, in Prasarita Padottanasana

Study turning the Eye-sense inward, when doing Trikonasana

One can do a whole month of practice around these concepts, and these are just a small sampling.

I have been using some of these statements in my personal practice. When practicing and meditating on these concepts much like contemplating a Buddhist Koan, many subtle answers are revealed.

My mentoring teacher was generous to lend me his audio courses from Prashantji, and I have to say my practice has never been the same. The interesting thing about Prashant’s teaching is that he does not really correct poses or give any major instructions. His teaching comes when the student is in the pose. Then he gives a whole discourse on body-mind-breath, subtle body phenomena, and esoteric physiology. In essence, his teaching is beyond the annamayakosa, and more into the prana/mano/vijnana/anandamayakosa layers of instruction. That doesn’t mean he tolerates sloppy asana-s. He expects them to be near perfection when taking his classes, so he can move on to the higher teachings.

I have often touted Prashantji’s classic “Alpha and Omega of Trikonasana” as a deeper way to approach “simple” poses. He takes trikonasana and moves through all the different layers, chakras, physical points of emphasis and beyond. In the end, no asana is simple.

All above “problem statements” courtesy of Prashnayantra http://prashnayantra.appspot.com