‘Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodhah’. – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.2
The sutra describes yoga as the cessation of thought waves. While the descriptions of yoga are vast, all lead back to this- this description of the ultimate calm.
I really should meditate.
You hear people say this often enough- questing what they see as this essence of yoga- mental stillness. I wonder if Iyengar yoga could speak what would be the questions posed?
So you want to meditate? Can you sit evenly on your sit bones? Are the groins soft and open enough to sit cross legged and release the knees below the hips without strain? Can you support the lift of the spine and chest with ease? Where do you feel pain or blockage? (and if you are feeling any pain consider you may not be meditating or doing any thing truly good for yourself.)
Iyengar yoga insists on asking questions. Questions that challenge and that inform positive change in mind and body. As a student you are in the hands of rigorously trained and tested teachers who instruct and on how to do execute and support (with props and adjustments) the necessary actions for alignment in a series of gradually introduced poses and choicefully intelligent sequencing.
So you still want to meditate?
And by all means do, if it feels right. But know, Iyengar yoga is meditation! It is meditation in action. What does that mean? At the outset it describes that the action of holding a pose in correct alignment becomes the gateway to meditation- to an inner journey. But the outer body must be taken care of first and correctly, with proper focus. In an Iyengar class you will observe, recognize and challenge old physical habits and gradually expand your awareness from the outside, in. And later from the inside, out.
Over time and with practise and adjustment you will develop new awareness and learn to sit, stand, twist, bend, balance, right side up and upside down- in safe alignment and with a sense of joy and discovery in a hands on, healing, and ultimately life changing practise.
You might begin by sensing if your second toes are parallel as you stand with ankles stacked under knees, stacked under hips and some day you’ll begin to become aware of where the breath is moving in this posture and where it isn’t and how to make changes. And you may feel different. (with practise) You will be journeying, deeper and deeper inward- bit by bit, day by day, class by class, pose by pose and expanding the horizons of your awareness all along the way.
So sure, come learn to meditate… while standing in tadasana in line at the grocery store! It’s that practical and begins in every day real life, and in real bodies- real bodies that deserve true attention and encouragement to embrace a practise of positive change.
Oh and to really answer that initial question of why did I start with Iyengar after already completing at teacher training program and dibbling and dabbling with lots of yoga find out a little more about me.
How can you know God, if you don’t know your big toe?