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The Evolution of Practice Or How Our Truth Changes
Pixie Lillas, founder of the Balmain Iyengar Yoga Studio, recollects her early experiences of studying and practising Yoga with BKS Iyengar
"There is no greater gift we could receive than that of being alive to ourselves and our surroundings, of finding a willingness to see and to learn and to be transformed. It is something for which we, Guruji's students, owe him our deepest gratitude and love."
At my first meeting with Guruji at the Institute in Pune in 1977, I was young in yoga and in years and I was going to the Institute without any real idea of what time spent learning from Mr Iyengar would involve. I thought perhaps that in any case, it would be more
His daughter, Geeta once said in a talk she gave during Guru Purnima that Guruji and his practice were two inseparable things. When he had money and fame he practised, and when he had no money, no food, no acclaim, he practised. When he was young he practised and when he grew old he practised. Practice it seems was not just the key, but was both a tool for life and life itself. In my own experience of perplexing or difficult times, or of a physical problem, or two, I have learned from Guruji
What to do then if we listen but hear only a garbled message, one that seems to leave us with more confusion and doubt? Here again, Guruji has given us guidance. He once said something like, if we feel doubt, let it be there and just continue to practise; let it sit side by side with us, and see which one wins out.
I have certainly had many periods of doubt and uncertainty not just about the techniques of the postures but even more about whether my approach was useful, helpful, was I going in the right direction or making things worse for myself? How was I to know, how to find out which direction to move in? According to Guruji nothing can change if we don
It would seem then, after all these years that
Classes with Guruji always entailed a sort of surrender. He would often encourage us to give over during the class and to leave any questioning for later so that we could fully experience what he was teaching. During his 80th Birthday celebrations, held in the Ambrosia centre outside Pune, after many repetitions of Virabhadrasana II for at least, without exaggeration, 5 or 6 minutes per side, we thought that surely by the next day we would be unable to even raise our arms in Urdhva Hastasana. But no, on the contrary, we were fresh and ready to start again. When some months later I tried to do the same poses following the video from those classes, I was unable to return to the joyfulness or even find the will to hold my arms up for that length of time. He has explained that we don