The root of the practice

To begin any endeavor, we need to find solid grounding, and that foundation that becomes our springboard. When the foundation is solid, the rebound energy that arises is limitless with possibility. We can apply that to almost any area of life in which we want to grow.  When we seek knowledge from a credible source, when we align ourselves with a path that correlates with our true calling, then the freedom to be creative and lend our efforts to moving our world forward will allow many opportunities to open up before us.  It is our calling to leave a positive footprint in this world, to learn about ourselves and to use the gifts we were born with.  It is also our responsibility.

My first yoga teacher, Lillah Schwartz, starts every asana practice with an acknowledgement of the roots of her knowledge as a teacher, a respectful appreciation to BKS Iyengar, and the roots of his (our) tradition.  Very quickly as her student, I caught on to this being part of tradition. Because of her connections to many influential Senior Iyengar teachers in this country, I had and still have a chance to study with them and learn from them.  This has shaped me as a teacher, and more importantly as a person.  I have gotten to see these true teachers, who are very strong and smart in many ways, yet what defines them more in my eyes is that they are incredibly compassionate and humble people.  Because Lillah connected me to these teachers, who had traveled  many times to India and studied with BKS Iyengar himsef, I had the opportunity to meet him on his last trip to the USA, in the last stop of his tour, San Francisco.  

After a ceremony to honor him at the music hall, he was on his way to address a small group of teachers and students at the Iyengar Institute of San Francisco.  Originally I did not know that.  I came out into the hall way at the end of the ceremony milling among the many people who had traveled from far and wide to attend.   I had a few hours to spare before needing to head back to the airport and I was wondering how to use that time.  Fate put Elise Browning-Miller in front of me, yes, of those great Iyengar teachers here in the USA.  She is known all over the world as the expert on how to use yoga to treat scoliosis.  It is because she has scoliosis and since her teens, has worked hard to learn how to care for her body. She has a daily yoga practice to do just that. I introduced myself to her in the hallway there and told her that she probably did not remember me from a workshop earlier that year, but that my teacher Lillah had sent me.  From our conversation, she invited me to go with her to meet and hear BKS Iyengar.   "There is room for one more in our car, come with us," she said.  I about cried.  

The experience was everything I could have hoped for and more.  I wish I had a notebook to have taken notes, or better yet a video of the very steady and eloquent way this man, empowered us with his words and his presence.  He is considered one of the 100 most influential people of this century.  He is a pillar in the world yoga community - almost every yogi knows his name.

Yoga has a 5000 year history. It is a tried and true means toward self discovery, self improvement and self care.  The word yoga in Sanskrit means "to yoke" or "to join" and refers to the union of body, mind and spirit. Most people are introduced to the practice of yoga through "asana," one of the 8 limbs of yoga, which is the physical practice. BKS Iyengar took knowledge that had been handed down from teacher to student for centuries and began to document and offer practical ways to make the poses accessible to all people, despite their issues.  The use of props as we know them in the west is due to his efforts as is  the emphasis to encourage that within each practice session we practice a variety of poses toinclude inversions and restoratives,  to balance work with rest. These are just some of the things that define what is essential to our "Iyengar influenced" practice.  It allows us the foundation to know that everyone has a place in yoga.  

Welcome to "Essential Yoga Practice." 
 - Ohm, Shanti, Ohm