Notes from Pune: Classes with Prashant

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Last Day with Prashant

The Guru or the realization of the Guru is not what we consider it to be.  Guruji could not have been a guru without his guru, and his guru could not have been a guru without his guru. It goes back to the beginning.  The prayers that we do have to encompass the magnitude of the lineage.

The guru principle is part metaphysical.  Do not have a shallow perspective on remembering.  The Guru principle is embedded in us. The words Guru and purusa  (the soul) are connected by a metaphysical entity in us. To say we got wisdom from Guruji is a narrow perspective.  For example – the camera is in front of me, it is here in me, does it get wisdom? How is it that you are getting wisdom from him?

Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says “I reside in the heart of all, memory, knowledge, reasoning from me comes not because you have a brain but because of the metaphysical.

In this room each of you are listening to me, there are 1200 different types of knowledge recording what I am saying.  2400 ears hearing, but not one wlll be the same. It depends on your reservations. It is that entity in you that is wisdom. Don’t you have a guru component in you.


The metaoutlook within you is not worldly.  The guru principle, according to Patanjali is not limited by time.


The nature of exhalations

Let the first be an exhalation of expulsion, the second of supplication, the third of surrender.


Expulsion is not noble.  SUrrender is nobel. If you are exhaling to throw away something then it is only every disposable.  The exhale is like a swiss army knife. It has many heads that serve many funcions. Your exhalation is like this.  Do not always just throw away. The surrender exhale is not throw away. Why did the archetypal plan of humans give us the exhalation? To explore, to seek.


We only do – learn – to be perfect?


Our embodiment is a marvel to be explored. Explore space of the exhalation. Don’t just interfere with space. Discover, don’t dabble.  Doing is not exploration. The yoga process is exploration.


Exhalations have multiple heads and functions from phenomenal and as an internal wash.  What do you dispose of? Have an explorers mind not an attainers mind.


We don’t watch the sky to possess the sky.  Just to observe. What has to be evacuated and let go of in the skin, bones, organs, senses, identifiers, emotions.  The volume of exhalation will take you to all of these.


We say to beginners before practice – empty your bladder, your stomach, your bowels but there is so much more. Every cell has a bladder, a stomach, lungs, emotions, identifiers.  Every cell eliminates. Exhale so profoundly. The abdomen is a major organ in pranayama.


Beginners should be taught pranayama from the chest.  In sarvangasana you do not breath into the chest. From where do you breath? Do you notice these things? Don’t get caught in biomechanics.


If Light on Yoga is the magnum opus it means that Iyengar did not evolve after 1966. That he never evolved after that time.  This is not true. He was ever evolving until his last breath. Light on yoga has a magnitude of thousands of miles reduced to a couple of inches.  THe content of Light on yoga never gave him contentment. You can do sirsasana for the wrists, hands, ears, eyes, legs, lungs, depression etc. Light on Yoga could not go into all this.  Yoga cannot be taught and taught and taught all the time. You have to explore and experience it. Yoga is a “YOU – alistic” subject.


Prashant said he could have sunk in yoga but he is still floating.  You ask me the same question a hundred times and I’ll give you a hundred different answers.  


Viloma 2

Ist exhale – nominal

2nd exhale – substantial

3rd exhale – significant

Then reverse it.  Make it a project.

Prashant’s experiments with viloma 2 had him lose track of time.  It’s a marvelous pranayama.


Digital pranayama

The breath rate decreases without you even trying because of the aperture.  It is like playing an instrument. First there is sound, then with practice it becomes a musical sound.You can never have a totally regular breathing pattern  when you’re awake or asleep. Yawning doesn’t just happen because you are tired or bored. When you yawn on an inhale, it is to increase CO2. When you yawn on an exhale, it is to increase 02.


Civilization has poisoned naturality.  It don’t know why it’s called civilization.  Civilization is not culture and culture is not civilization.



BKS Iyengar was that kind of teacher. Dharma – duty.  Asana you can dial up your dharmendriya and be duty minded.  If you have all your attachments, how can you discover what your duty is.  You can’t be internal if you are always attached. Even love means attachment.


Yoga leads to zero gravity: no love, no hate, no like or dislike – no percentages.  NO creeds, religion. There is no such thing as a jewish dog, or muslim cat. You can change these limitations – you are still there beneath, or behind them.


In our temporal condition we can never find out what is essentially right or wrong because of our attachments.


Yoga will give you dharmendriya  – a neutral state.


You and I don’t qualify for a non dual state. When  zero gravity is working on you then you know what is essential, right and wrong.  Guruji was in a separate caliber.


The marvel of yoga is that it can take you into that state.  You are birthless, deathless, beyond your horizon. On top of the hill or the ocean – yoga will increase your magnum opus nature.

Dharmendriya is transcendence.


Today we did only pranayama.   The details of this I will go into this in more detail in the next week or two because they cannot be described in a few words.  It is not fair or appropriate to simply write it down because it cannot be experienced this way and the notes are only “journalism”.  Prashant was clear that we are not to go back and teach this work.  Yoga is not just about knowledge.   The following are notes taken in between the various pranayama practices.

Philosophy is the reality of the world in the realm of the known and unknown, the tangible and intangible, the visible and non visible.You have to have perspective to look at the world.  

Guruji said that you have to take care of your body like a child.  What did he do?

He took care of himself.  Not clinically, as we might do to keep fit. He took care of himself at every layer.  Every minute trillions of cells die and are born. We have baby cells arriving all the time, and trillions that are of different ages.  We are a mass of life and death.

What does it mean to take care of your body like a child?  We are stuck in the corporeal advantages of a yoga practice – we practice for health, strength, fixing our injuries etc.  This is limited.

Taking care of your body like a child requires a playground psychosis. Guruji would practice 12-14 hours a day. He couldn’t be serious the whole time. For Geeta and I it was a different kind of teaching certificate that we attained: It was the LOYO method – learn on your own. Teaching is not just about learning, it is about embodiment.   Can you be playful? Can you explore? Hard work changes in perspective when you have a playground psychosis. You think you should be serious about yoga.  But you miss many things because of being serious.

You know there is “yoga for children” – what about “yoga for when children are around”? (Prashant was telling us about when Guruji would practice all his children were around – climbing on him.  How would he stop them from falling when he did urdhva dhanurasana? He would hold them on his abdomen doing setubhandasana. He would do kapalabhati when they were on his abdomen and they would laugh.).  

You have to have a discoverers mind, a playful mind, an explorers mind to practice yoga.

Be fascinated with instead of serious about.

With ourselves and for ourselves we have to be the mother and the father and friend to our inner community.  You think that the ultimate goal is to be “global”. The earth is a particle of dust. Within you is a whole universe. Through asana and pranayama you are given the ability to deal with any condition in the community that resides within you.  Yoga is training to deal with this entire internal community. This is the depth that Guruji took to take care of himself. It was not just to do yoga better. How do you deal with your own embodiment?  

Each breath is a birth.   Asana is a beneficiary OF the breath as well as FOR the breath.  How is the child in you in savasana? In hanumanasana?  In sirsasana?

You can make someone come into a pose like kandasana, but you cannot make someone come into the realm of the breath.

The touch of the mother and the touch of the father is in our breath.  Can your breath touch you like a child, the mother breath, the father breath?

We are more preoccupied with activity than THE activity.  We are BUSY, BUSY.  Activity only produces reactivity. Reaction with reactivity, reaction with activity.  We become only reactive instead of active. How much time do you use in reacting to something not related to you  We become occupied by reactions. We live in a world of only reactive consciousness.

You can’t just close the door to it.  The yogis went to the mountains to get away from reactive consciousness but it stayed with them.  It is in your mind.   We become stuck in the “right way” of doing and understanding as a way of overcoming reactive concsiousness.  This is misguided.    Get out of that fanaticism that your teacher should always teach right, or that you are always doing right. It it’s only about doing things right you will never know the world. If you become preoccupied with your teacher only giving you “right instructions”, you will lose.  It is reactive consciousness Not making mistakes did not take guruji to where he went.  Yoga does not allow anything to be done mechanically.   Yoga is open architecture.

People become wise because of madness.  Unless you are mad you won’t get corresponding wisdom,  We are here to become mad. Mad and madness are not the same.  What we want, the wise person doesn’t want. What we don’t want, the wise person wants, what we understand the wise person does not.  What we like, the wise person does not like. Let us proceed to become mad.

Guruji was mad.

Guruji had an amazing memory of how he breathed today as different from yesterday.  He cultivated a “breath craft”. Pranayama is not deep breathing, it is breath craftsmanship. You have to have the mind of a poet, not the mind of a technician.

We give bolster to a beginner in pranayama.  We think it was to open the chest but it was to open the abdomen.  The abdomen is more important as part of your breathing apparatus. Don’t be lung crazy.

Dogs are honest.  Cats are a cheat.  They sneak into your home and steal the milk and yet you let them into your house and pet them on your lap.  Divinity, however,  is the greatest thief in the world.  It will rob the heart of the devotee.    It is so great a thief that the robbed doesn’t even know he’s been robbed.

Yoga is not just knowledge, knowledge, knowledge,  You must also have a good appreciation of all things.  Be fascinated, as if under a spell, not a rigidity of discipline of what is right.  Real yoga is karma consciousness. It cannot be done mechanically.

You have the opportunity to come to me and open me out to see the gems I might have inside, and some of them might give light to you.



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Notes from Pune

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Sheila and I sit in our hotel room reflecting on how it seems no time has passed since we were last together in India.  Typical to our experience here, our room is cluttered full of complicated light switches, and the hotel staff are the  kindest people imaginable.  Our room is clean, simple and, for and city in India, surprisingly quiet.

1600 people are here from 56 countries, at the Balewadi stadium 12 km outside of Pune to celebrated the 100th birthday of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar.

Prashant Iyengar has taught the past three days of classes.  He said about his father:

…we thought he practiced, but he was an explorer not a practitioner.  Exploration within one’s own embodiment will never end. He appeared dogmatic but this is incorrect. He was an explorer.  Practice is when you are unprepared and uneducated.  He didn’t practice sirsasana for 80 years, he explored sirsasana for 80 years. You have to explore.  Yoga is networking for the body. Also a process of human making..  Yoga asana prepares you for the mundane conditions of life.  Can you use it to increase your understanding of the philosophy to help you through the nonsense of life?    

The actions in the poses are not simply done as a list of points, they are driven.  The whole process is driving to seek conditions of awareness and the practice fructifies by happenings and doings.   Educate yourself.   Yoga asanas are an academy of how to get into yoga.  Become fascinated  – when you are fascinated with something, it is not complicated.

Have a thought about a thought.  This is our practice.  A lion, dog, cat etc. have a thought and that’s it.  What makes us different is that we have a thought about a thought.   But remember that you can’t become a thought, you can only have a thought.

So be circumspect not just focused.  Focus is what is directly in front of you.  To be circumspect is to look all around you – like driving in India. You have to look everywhere except up – maybe one day we will also have to look up!   

(as Sheila says, it takes all 4 eyes for us to cross the street!  We cannot falter in our circumspection even for a moment.)

About breath……

The breath is a conative and cognitive organ.  Cognitive has to do with intelligence and deals with emotions.  Conative drives how one acts on thoughts, emotions and meanings.    The breath has limbs and it can move you and be moved.  

The breath will animate you.  The breath will hibernate you.  We regulate the breath to get ourselves regulated.

When Guruji was around you could never breath normally.  It was the “G” (Guru) factor. You never noticed until afterwards that you were not breathing normally.  He would push you to the highest level in asana and the breath would be used to do it with you.

I can’t say to you – think a little more slowly.   But I can say to you  – breath a little more slowly. The breath will slow the thoughts.  The non yoga person will say inhale inhale inhale, it will calm you down.  The yoga practitioner and Patanjali say exhale, exhale, exhale.

Inhale gives energy.  Exhale gives power.  The inhale is like electricity, the exhale is like the light bulb.  The weightlifter and athlete moves either on or just after the exhale.   The exhale is always where the power is.

The breath is for you but it is not yours.  Your body and brain are yours but not the breath.  It comes in and goes out. It doesn’t stay. It is not yours.  All that is yours and remains yours is only yours because of something that is not yours.

Thank you Prashant.


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