Prashant Sir, the son of BKS Iyengar said: That yoga is experienced differently by each person, depending on what age or stage of fitness or health we are at when we begin practicing. As a young flexible person, it can be all about achieving those advanced poses, but an older or physically injured or impaired person will be happy with some increased flexibility or stamina.
Mostly, yoga is seen as a physical practice that has added mental health benefits. We tend to introduce poses as being good for this or helpful for that. But of course, it’s so much more.
By the time that you’re hooked and yoga has become a part of your daily life, you will have discovered a community and may have allowed your commitment to the practice of yoga to change much of your day-to-day life. It may have affected your choices in regard to bedtimes, diet, consumer goods and even your circle of friends – but what of wider society and “your” yoga practice?
I chose to enter the teacher training course to widen my skills base, to possibly bring about a change in direction, but mostly because it felt like the most sensible and also inevitable thing to do at the time. I’d been “doing” Iyengar yoga for nearly 30 years and attending classes for 10 of those, mostly in Glasgow, but only became an iYoga member because it was a requirement on entering the training.
Post-qualification and I’m humbled by the diversity of individuals that I have had the privilege to teach – their differences in personality, attitude and physicality. I try to take as much time as possible to allow them to teach me about the wonderful variety of the human condition; make each person as welcome as possible and to accept my small role in their yoga journey.
What practicing and teaching yoga has taught me, is the power of yoga – not just as a physical exercise that builds resilience and enables us to integrate our body, mind and breath; or as a philosophy that drives us to delve deeper into ourselves, inspires love and acceptance of ourselves and others… But, how by taking that philosophy off the mat and into our everyday interactions and life choices, we can change the lives of others for the better too. Either by simple acts of kindness or empathy, or by taking positive action, we can “live” yoga. And so to answer Prashant’s question: Yoga to me is an inspiration, a consolation and a service.
by Tina Freeland