Thank you for the scholarship which helped enable me to participate in the IYNAUS 2016 convention and experience Abhijata’s amazing teaching. Granddaughter of B.K.S. Iyengar, she has been shaped, faceted and polished by the legendary intensity and fire of her grandfather’s teaching. The result is a humble teacher possessing crystalline clarity, warmth, humor and devotion. She single-handedly led a group of nearly 1,200 students on a journey of transformation, weaving in wonderful stories and memories of her relationship with B.K.S. Iyengar, both as her exacting teacher, and as her beloved grandfather. I believe we all left with gratitude for her teachings and with confidence that the future of Iyengar Yoga is in extraordinarily capable hands.
Karen Chandler, Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Throughout the weekend I was reminded that my body is my first prop in both asana and my day-to-day life. The messages I absorbed felt so closely intersected with my work as a white anti-racist living and teaching yoga in Detroit, a majority-black city. In each asana, Abhijata asked us to look at ourselves in such detail, with such curiosity, with such intention. She used our physical bodies, our periphery to explore what was happening within us, at our core and then encouraged us to take that intelligence back to our periphery. Why do we do certain things in asana? What habits are we relying on? And my favorite, what do we not know? What are we not considering?
The convention experience invigorated my belief that my yoga practice is part of my anti-racist work because it allows me to look at my whole self, to question, to be objective, to understand how my identity is formed and how this plays out in systems where my white body is seen as valuable. Yoga requires me to recognize what has become habitual, whether it is a list of actions in a pose, or the way I interact with the world. Yoga asks me to be humble and think creatively – never assuming I have mastered an asana or that I know everything. I always have more to learn and if I truly want to know, then I need to be willing to look at things differently. In asana this may mean experimenting with how I approach a pose or how I sequence. In my anti-racist work, this may mean being willing to listen to others’ stories, especially those that are not represented in dominant narratives.
I am so grateful for the framework that yoga offers me and to Abhijata and Guruji for their willingness to share this practice so generously.
Erin Shawgo, Detroit, Michigan
The Iyengar Yoga Convention in Boca Raton left me BURSTING with inspiration, hope, and dedication. Thank you IYAMW for supporting this amazing opportunity through the scholarship fund. Abhijata’s teaching lit a bright flame within us all. She stated how actions penetrate the mind then a union of communication between body, intelligence, and soul integrates. Abhijata mentioned that we oftentimes get caught up in our minds; what about practicing with our hearts? When do we know we are practicing with our hearts? How does that feel? Where does that lead us? Towards the end of BKS Iyengar’s life, he left us with “Let my end be your beginning…” Oftentimes, we need to start over: Atha yoganushasanam. This sutra is an opening, a clearing of the slate to begin again with innocence and an open mind. When practice is started this way, pre-disposed anxieties about injuries or stamina are quieted. From a quiet perspective, practice proceeds moment to moment, which cultivates creative expression, intuitive intelligence, and unbounded freedom.
Lois Steinberg was awarded the Lighting the Way award which is an incredible honor for her volunteer service and endearing dedication. She is the 7th person who has received this award. Others include: Joan White, Mary Dunn, Felicity Green, Patricia Walden, Manouso Manos, and Gloria Goldberg. Lois’s mentoring has lead me to use her teaching as a segue to find my own way, learn from mistakes, and most importantly to never give up.
Kelly Sobanski, Nashville, Indiana