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Air Purifiers

“Look at all pain in life as a teacher. In that struggle there is knowledge.”

Abhijata quoting her Grandfather, BKS Iyengar

Oct 16 – Air Purifiers for the Studio
Dear Students,

Many of you have emailed or called to let us know that your personal or professional bubble has increased in the last weeks and that you are choosing to stay home to minimize the risk of transmission. Thank you very much for the consideration! We appreciate your contribution to keeping all of us at the Centre safe.

When you are wondering whether to come to class or not, call us before you head out, or email 12 hours before. For example, some people with family members who have a cold are choosing to take online classes instead of coming to class. If you prefer, we offer a credit for the number of classes missed toward your next term.

Gone are the days when we had a headache, a throat tickle or something off with our digestion, and just pressed through to see if anything developed. Early COVID symptoms can be minimal and very vague. If you have any symptoms of being unwell, please stay away from the Centre.

The cold temperatures are upon us and as we move deeper into fall the windows can no longer be wide open, as they were all summer. We purchased two large air filtration systems that capture particles down to 0.1 microns at 99.97% effectiveness. https://www.modernalchemyair.com/products/blueair-480i-air-purifier/. These two air purifiers together provide 5.5 air changes in the studio, per hour.

November registration for in studio classes is brisk. Please sign up this week to avoid disappointment that the class you want is full.

Please remember if you want to pay less than the quoted price for classes, we encourage you to register, and pay what you can. If you want a free term of classes, we are happy to offer that too.

Stay safe everyone,

Namaste, love,
Wendy and Britta

Arbutus

The main studio was given a name some years ago, after being called studio A at first. It is named after the iconic tree of the west coast the Arbutus tree. Birch is the name of the small studio.

An Arbutus is actually an evergreen, with red curling bark that sheds each year. It clings to rocky seaside cliffs along the coast, and only grows in this west coast of North America. It does best near the sea air.

This photo of an Arbutus tree is now on the door to the studio.
Tree pose, Vrksasana is a pose we do to find stability and balance in our lives.

Photo and text by Leslie Hogya

“My body is my temple, asanas are my prayers.”

“My body is my temple, asanas are my prayers.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

The photos above were taken during a quiet moment at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in November 2008. It is where Guruji practised, taught, and inspired all who came to learn the subject of Yoga.

May these images inspire your own practice and encourage you to create a space dedicated to your sadhana.

Whether it be a room of one’s own, or a corner cleared inside your busy household, email iyoga@telus,net to share a photo of your practice space with your community.

Yoga is Perfect Harmony

True yoga is perfect harmony

Yoga is nothing
if it is not perfect harmony of body, senses,
mind and intellect, reason, consciousness and self.
When all these are integrated that is true Yoga.
…..B.K.S. IYENGAR

At the start of the pandemic I wrote an article about the essential role of a personal practice for anyone embarking on the path of yoga. I have continued to refine this idea in several articles.

Early in my yoga journey I studied with a man called Swami Venketesananda who as a disciple of the renowned Swami Sivananda served his guru in many capacities, one of which was as editor for Sivananda’s many books. One day his master presented him with a new book for editing and noting its similarity to a previous book Venketesananda pointed this out. “I know, I know,” was Sivananda’s response, “but few people would have understood the teaching at first and since they are unlikely to reread that book I am giving them another chance!”

With that in mind, here I go again!

Unhealthy air from wildfires in the US west coast states is blanketing Victoria and environs at present. Along with Vancouver on some days last week we shared the distinction of having the worst air quality in the world! Once again there is a need to adapt.

The practice of yoga is more valuable than ever to meet this additional challenge to life and health, and while classes and good teachers are excellent guides, there is nothing as reliable as knowing how to modify your individual practice for all eventualities. We are being advised not to undertake strenuous outdoor activities. Yoga, of course, is generally an indoor activity but this too needs modification .

Guruji would often speak about giving us clues. A guru doesn’t tell you what to do but points out the consequences of your choices. A guru will guide you on the path of yoga. A good teacher will instruct and train you to use the tools of yoga. The fellowship of others also attempting this challenging journey can strengthen your resolve. All of these will encourage you to persevere. All have a role to play but there is one role which rests entirely in your own hands: that of yoga practitioner.

To become more proficient and refine your yoga, discrimination is essential: how, when and where to make use of the tools you have acquired in the face of the idiosyncrasies of your own body as well as the excuses and emotional dependencies which cloud your judgment and interfere with your resolve. The more you practise the firmer your steps become, their purpose clearer. You develop a clearer sense of what strengthens and what weakens you. You become a warrior not a wimp.

Now is not the time for complex breathing techniques or spectacular accomplishments. It is time to refine body, mind and breath to become more efficient and discriminating in living through the challenge of today while at the same time becoming flexible and steady enough to face come what may for as long as necessary.

Practising by yourself on a regular basis may enable you to come face to face with your Self. From my own experience, the person who goes downstairs each morning to practise yoga is not the same as the one who emerges later on. I prefer the second one as probably so do most others in my life.

Shirley Daventry French
September 17, 2020

Walking in Nature

We started exploiting nature. Walking outside was taken for granted. Now all that has changed.

Abhijata Iyengar

Sustaining Alertness

Sustaining alertness For the duration.

Memory is necessary to see
whether we are regressing or progressing.
If you use memory to live in past experiences alone,
it becomes your foe and hinders progress.
Memory is a friend when used for progress.
B.K.S. IYENGAR

Today is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. This will mean little or nothing to most of you who are reading this newsletter; but to those of us who lived through those six years it will have great significance for as long as we live.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I am constantly finding links and remembrances from this time. I was young then, seven when it started and thirteen when it ended. I am old now and living half a world away from my native London but those six early years coloured, and, in some instances, scarred my life.

One of the significant things I learned from that time was the benefit of staying informed. Newspapers and BBC News on the Radio were daily rituals and two important resources for those of us on the Homefront. The other was the need to practise discrimination. Rumours abounded fed by know-it-all’s and scaremongers. Perhaps, most important of all, we learned that we had to sustain this alertness for the duration—however long that might last.

This is where we find ourselves today facing a threat we know very little about for an unknown duration. Lacking direct counterattack weapons such as an effective vaccine we have to rely on common sense in ourselves and others. We also have two potent weapons at our disposal: Yoga and Discrimination. The practice of Yoga will strengthen our ability to discriminate and make the best choices for our own well-being as well as that of others.

In British Columbia, in Dr. Bonnie Henry we are fortunate to have a public Health Officer who communicates clearly and compassionately on a regular basis. Sometimes what she has to tell us is not what we want to hear. This also brings back memories of wartime Britain where the BBC Evening News was listened to regularly and reverently in a majority of households in the UK. Oddly enough we often found humour in our predicament. Humour can be a potent tool for navigating a crisis but only if we are still able to hear and follow the recommended course of actions to safely navigate this pandemic.

In the maxim quoted at the beginning of this article, Guruji speaks of the atrophy of dwelling too much on the past but qualifies this by saying that memory becomes your friend when used for progress. How to make progress in this time of Covid? One of the skills a regular practice of yoga hones is discrimination. Discrimination shines light on ignorance at the same time as it reveals a path ahead.

Last night as I went to bed this article was in need of a final paragraph. Today as I made my early morning cup of tea it came to me. There are many jokes about the propensity of the British to make a cup of tea as a way of coping with almost anything. Each day as you wake up to live another day in the face of this pandemic, make your equivalent of a “cup of tea”, drink it, do your yoga practice, then be grateful for and live this day.

The past can teach us but we can only live in the present.

Shirley Daventry French

September classes

Dear Students,

Here we go right into September! It has always been our busiest month at the Centre. Please register for studio classes because they are filling quickly.

Join Ann, Soo, Adia and Ty, morning and evening throughout the week for live streaming asana. Our four live stream classes are convenient and offer the safety of your own home, for those not yet comfortable coming to the studio. The Online Unlimited Pass is a deal – all four online classes for the price of just two and a half!

Please note the changes in the studio schedule for September:

New: Two hour class with Ann on Monday from 5-7pm
New: 1.5 hour class with Lucie on Thursday from 5:30-7pm

Time Change: The pay-what-you can class with Johanna is moving to Tuesday from 1-2pm.

Extra 30 Minutes: Added to Ty’s class on Wednesday evening from 6-8pm, to Leslie’s 55+ on Wednesday from 11-12:30pm, to Wendy’s 55+ on Friday from 11am-12:30pm, and to Marlene’s class on Saturday from 8:30-10:30am.

The Student Intensive with Lauren and Ty runs Monday, August 31st to Friday, September 4th from 9:30am-12:30pm. There are still spots available for the online component. If you cannot commit to the full week, drop in spots are offered to experienced students. Please call us for details.

The screening questions we ask each time you come to the Centre are related to your daily health and exposure to travel. Thank you for your support and cooperation to keep us all safe in these troubled times.

Namaste, love
Wendy and Monica

August News

“Intelligence, when awakened says: What a fool I’ve been!”
BKS Iyengar, Pune, December 2003

Dear Students,

It’s an exciting week at the Centre! Our annual Teacher Training Intensive is taught annually in Victoria by Ann (Kilbertus) and Louie (Ettling). This week it moved online!

38 teachers from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC, have joined us from coast to coast for the first live-stream intensive! Committed, bright, creative teachers are exploring the new Iyengar yoga syllabus with Ann and Louie.

Britta is on vacation for two weeks so Monica is at the desk to take your registration for September. Our Online Unlimited pass offers four virtual classes for the price of two. Some studio classes are filling quickly – please call now to make your choice. The Student Intensive from August 31 to September 4th, with Lauren and Ty, still has spaces available online at half the price of the in studio option.

New virus cases jumped in BC on Wednesday with the health authority reporting the third highest single day total since the start of the pandemic. To manage the risk of transmission at the Centre, we now ask screening questions as you enter the lobby. The questions relate to general health and travel. For those who have travelled, our questions are probing. If you have travelled, or been around anyone who has, please call us before you come to class. We are happy to offer online classes, or class credits toward next term if you cannot come into the Centre for a couple weeks.

Everyone who has been asked to stay away for 14 days has been kind and understanding. We appreciate your cooperation very much!

Namaste, love
Wendy and Monica

The Early Bird gets the Worm

Work from the energy body.
The energy body, not the physical body,
holds poses.
BKS Iyengar, July 2020

Dear Students,

September registration opened this past Tuesday. The phone is ringing off the hook! Please register early for the in studio classes to avoid disappointment. We have spaces for only 15 students in the large studio and September is shaping up to be a busy month.

The Online Unlimited pass offers four classes for the price of two and a half. Join Ann, Soo, Adia and Ty on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively, for live streaming classes.

Join Ty and Lauren online or in studio from August 31st to September 4th for the annual Student Intensive, from 9-12pm daily. The in studio price is $299 plus gst. For economy and convenience the intensive is offered online for half price! Online drop in fee is $45 plus gst per day.

In consultation with Island Health, and because Covid cases have doubled in BC in the last month, we will ask all students attending in studio classes some screening questions. The following questions, which are intended to keep us all safe, relate to your health and any recent travel:

Do you have, or have you recently had, a sore throat, cough, cold or fever?

Have you been in contact with anyone who is sick?

Do you live on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands?

Have you travelled outside of Victoria in the past 14 days?

Have you been around anyone who lives outside of Victoria?

Thank you for helping to keep us all safe.

Namaste, love
Wendy and Britta

Where Fiction Ends and Non-fiction begins

Where fiction ends and non-fiction begins

Once I read a translation of a book called Love in the Time of Cholera written by the Colombian Nobel prize winning novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The main reason I decided to read it was because my daughter was about to marry a Colombian and I was curious about a part of the world and culture of which I was profoundly ignorant. One of the reasons I started yoga was because I met a women (Carole Miller) in the showers at the “Y” who was taking their newly offered yoga class, and I was curious. Since that day, fifty years ago, yoga has been central to my life and in this time of Covid-19 my curiosity to make use of its teachings is deeper than ever.

Reading has always been a treasured part of my life and still is. Since we have been plunged into this pandemic I have been reading voraciously on paper, on Kindle and lately (and usually late at night) on Audible. My reading has been mostly non-fiction although these days I find it difficult to distinguish where fiction ends and non-fiction begins.

In my youth I survived six years of war and a decade later lived in an Arab community where we, the British, were trying to sustain dominance over a population who had the impertinence to want to run their own affairs. During a period of living under siege from armed insurgents, I was evacuated at dead of night to my native London on an ancient RAF plane.

Clearly I did not grow up with the expectation that life would be easy and comfortable. I learned very early on that you could not take peace on earth for granted or be cowed in the face of personal threats and discomfort. It was important then as it is now to become strong, independent of spirit and resourceful. Six months ago our lives were turned upside down. Possibly standing on our head regularly could bring another perspective as we cope with this threat to life as we know it.
What has all this to do with the work of the Iyengar Yoga Centre? Our mandate is to propagate the practice of yoga in our community. Becoming fit and flexible are not ends in themselves but means to help you traverse the path so your life can be lived with skill and purpose. The goal as described by the sage Patanjali is Kaivalya or absolute freedom.
There is a saying that “when the student is ready the teacher appears”. To become proficient in a subject, first we must learn something about it. B.K.S. Iyengar once said “A good book is better than a poor teacher but a good teacher is better than a good book”. When a good teacher is available, learn from them. But yoga’s deeper purpose can only emerge when you make use of its teachings to find out the meaning and purpose of your own particular life. It is from your own practice and reflection that you plumb the depths of yoga which may reveal what another of my teachers Swami Radha often referred to as a pearl beyond price!
Shirley Daventry French