Notes from Pune



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.