by Butch Bo-ot
It was along the stairway of Shoppersville that I first saw the notice for Iyengar yoga classes. I called up the contact number and then formally met Elena. I introduced myself and said I was interested in attending her yoga classes. I think this was in 2016. The first classes I attended were held in her house and the Moro Lorenzo Gym, then after a while, I finally became a regular at the Sankalpa studio along Esteban Abada.
I wasn’t really aware of Iyengar yoga before but I have now come to appreciate it. The thing that I like the most is the emphasis on alignment and balance. Focus and breathing are necessary to be able to maintain the poses. It seems to me that Iyengar’s emphasis is more directed towards the inner structures of the human body. When one moves with the breathing and maintains proper alignment during the poses, a certain stimulus is felt in specific muscles. That stimulus can feel ticklish, or even actually more forceful at times, but the movement leading up completing the pose makes one aware of the path the action takes along the muscles and it is that route that makes the student cognizant of the purpose of the pose.
When demonstrated by the teacher, the poses look deceptively simple. But they are by no means easy. As a matter of fact, we are often reminded in class that some days are better than others. There are props to help us get into the pose, and we have to know how to properly use them to avoid mishaps. And although we are taught in groups, it is rare to find time to observe your fellow students because your attention is spent on making sure you can do the pose properly and maintain it.
Elena was my first teacher but I have also taken classes with Alya, Beth, Jess, and Saree. Each of them has introduced facets of Iyengar yoga in their own way. From the foundational to the rigid, from the macro sequencing of poses to the micro nuances of stance, from the more grounded and active to the more mental. One thing common in all their classes was that at the end of each one, my mind became clearer and my body more lively.
All students have their own preferences, and I would say that my favorite poses are ardha chandrasana and parivitta parsvakonasana. Savasana variations are also excellent cherries on top. In the process of doing the poses, one realizes that our minds and bodies are remarkable, as the physical merges with our conscious and subconscious. When doing the pose, I also experience how different parts of my body interact with one another, and to me this is nothing short of invaluable.
I have not been able to attend yoga sessions since the studio closed because of the pandemic. But while I don’t attend classes anymore, some of what I have learned in class have become part of my regular habits. Now, for example, my default standing position is similar to tadasana: legs at hip width apart, shoulders back, and toes pointing inward a bit.
I look forward to when our COVID situation improves and the quarantine restrictions are lifted, so that I can once again get to the studio and practice. Namaskar.