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I first discovered yoga when I was sixteen, and practised for about five years. Then I unaccountably gave up for about twelve years, when I discovered Iyengar Yoga. I have found great benefits from yoga, both physical and mental. I don't practise as much as I would like, but I try to be mindful of yoga in everyday life. So, for example, when I'm standing in a queue, I imagine I'm doing Tadasana. I try to be in balance and stretch my spine rather than slouching and putting more weight on one leg. There's no substitute for practice though! You can find information on the IIYS if you're near Sussex or the IYA (UK) site lets you search for teachers anywhere in the UK.
I saw in a newspaper that a vicar banned yoga classes from his church
hall in Essex!
He said, "The organiser confirmed to me that this kind of yoga was to do with ascending to higher planes. That is not what we are into".
Someone even once said to me, "...when you meditate, you let your
mind go vacant and the Devil can get in!".
What a shame that some people have such closed minds. They are missing out on a very rewarding experience. I don't believe that yoga is inconsistent with practicing religion of whatever form.
Iyengar Yoga is named after B.K.S. Iyengar, who has been practicing yoga for over 70 years and teaching for nearly as long! I was lucky enough to see him in person at Euroyoga in 1993 at Crystal Palace, London. For more information, please look at his site at http://www.bksiyengar.com.
The "Institute of Iyengar Yoga in Sussex" (IIYS) is an organisation of Sussex based teachers and students who study Iyengar Yoga. I have edited their Newsletter since about 1994. The IIYS website is at http://www.iiys.org.uk.
To help spread the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar in the United Kingdom, a national association of Iyengar Yoga practitioners, both teachers and pupils, was formed in 1988. At Iyengar's suggestion this association took the name of his book, so it was called the "Light on Yoga Association" (LOYA). The Iyengar Yoga Association of the United Kingdom or IYA (UK) was formed in June 2003 by the merger of the BKS Iyengar Yoga Teachers Association (BKSIYTA) and LOYA. It is an association for all practitioners of Iyengar yoga in the United Kingdom, whether or not they are teachers.
The IYA (UK) website is at www.iyengaryoga.org.uk.
As often as possible, I go to the Saturday drop-in yoga classes from 0900-1015 at the Brighton Natural Health Centre in Regent Street.
The centre runs all kinds of classes - I've been to various massage courses, Alexander technique, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Kinesiology, to name a few.
Do pop along to the drop-in yoga sometime - it's suitable for both experienced practitioners and beginners.
Sallie Sullivan, who has been teaching yoga for eighteen years, sent me details of her new website, lewes yoga. If you live or work near Lewes in East Sussex, it's well worth a look.
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14 December 2003 was B.K.S. Iyengar's 85th birthday and celebrations were held between the 8th and 14th. The programme included talks, discussions, discourses, seminars, symposia, presentations, and question and answer sessions in Pune but not classes.
I should hope not! If you can't relax on your 85th birthday, then something would be very wrong.
When I saw Guruji (as he is known to his devotees) at Crystal Palace in 1993, he was amazingly fit and supple, at nearly 75. Long may he remain an endorsement and living testament to the benefits of yoga.
For more information, please look at his site at http://www.bksiyengar.com.top
I know some people are very protective of their chosen type of yoga, and regard it almost as heresy to consider any other, but I like to experience other approaches and enjoy both the similarities and the differences. In the same way that you can benefit from experiencing different teachers, so also can you learn from a totally different school. Although Iyengar remains my main anchor, I am open to trying other approaches, and adopting elements I find useful.
But although there are some radically different approaches, the similarities are also striking - the poses are pretty-much identical, though sometimes referred to by different names - certainly The Plank is easier to remember than Chaturanga Dandasana.
I have attended quite few Ashtanga classes now, and they were not as fearsome as I'd been led to believe. The main difference from Iyengar is the way that poses lead into each other, and that they are not held for very long. I do like the precision of Iyengar poses, but also enjoy the way that some of the poses link together in Ashtanga. The main problem with Ashtanga for me is that often I'm still feeling my way into one pose when, bang, we've moved on to the next.
I have attended Marc Woolford's yoga class once. His yoga is inspired by Vanda Scaravelli and is quite different from any I've encountered before. He ensures that the postures come from within, and I was encouraged to spend time in each pose, exploring it with my consciousness.
We did very few poses, but spent a long time exploring each. At first, I found it frustrating, but eventually 'got it', and enjoyed the freedom and the attention given to each asana.
Marc also arranges workshops and yoga holidays.
See his website at www.yogawithmarc.co.uk.
"Light on Yoga" is the title of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar's world famous book on yoga, first published in 1966. It's a fascinating book, though it could be a bit off-putting if you're new to Iyengar Yoga.
Some of the poses are not only advanced but look as if you need to be a contortionist - rest assured that you don't need to be able to get into all the positions shown in this book to get benefits from yoga. It isn't a competition!
Suitable for experienced practitioners and beginners, "Secrets of Yoga" is written by Jenny Bittleston and published by Dorling Kindersley.
It's small enough to carry around, has lots of useful information and is less than five pounds.
I've also enjoyed Jenny's classes in the past!
I found a site in California, The Master Yoga foundation, that mentioned Bliss Yoga! As they said, "Beginner's Bliss is open to anyone, while Advanced Bliss requires prior study of at least three months of twice-per-week attendance". In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali uses the word svaroopa, which means 'the Bliss of your own Being.' I see the site has now been renamed as Svaroopa® Yoga, presumably because they couldn't trademark the word Bliss.
There's an eclectic shop in Brighton that sells everything from PT Bouncers to yoga mats, belts, etc. They also had a Dorling Kindersley Iyengar Yoga CDROM, which looked interesting. The shop is Abstract and it's at 35 North Rd, Brighton.
See Chicago Yoga for an interesting review of one of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois's astanga classes.
I recently started Salsa Dancing, and have just heard of Salsa Yoga! Kerry Ribchester is a world class dance teacher and body therapist specialising in Cuban dance. She runs Cuban Body Movement & Yoga workshops with Carrie Tuke, who is a Hatha Yoga teacher. The workshops are devoted to getting your spine as fluid as possible with the least effort so you can dance with more confidence and connection to your partner. They have worked intensively together over the past year on the principles and benefits of Salsa and Yoga together. For more information, see the the radiant body website.
I'm not just interested in yoga however. I've tried numerous other therapies for mind, body and spirit. Please see my new age page!
I was recently contacted by Shyam Kalki, who has created an interesting and comprehensive site, The Loving Heart Centre. It's well worth a browse, with mentions of yoga and BKS Iyengar, crystals, Amma, religions, chanting and flower remedies.
: : © Mike Bliss 2011