Health is the state when the soul is given
the key of the body to roam at will.
– B.K.S. Iyengar
Health, of our loved ones, our self, our world! This is at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even the deniers one reads about are caught up in these concerns.
Most of us are following the advice of our health officials, washing our hands frequently and social distancing or self-isolating. If you are reading this e-News you are acquainted with yoga in some way, more than likely in a class setting. Now, with the lockdown, the only classes available are virtual ones.
Coming up with a sorely needed vaccine is out of reach for the majority of us; we need to leave this to the scientists and researchers and be patient. Meanwhile in yoga we have a variety of tools available. One of these is personal practice. The value of this cannot be emphasised enough: but how many of you have established such a practice?
For a majority of yoga students today, their interest was awakened by taking classes. If their curiosity has been aroused they may start to delve deeper into the subject: the symbolism, tradition, purpose and meaning behind these weird postures they are learning. Possibly the teacher points them in this direction. Perhaps not. Both students and teachers can easily become attached to each other and attachments are contrary to authentic yoga practice.
One thing we are very confident about at the Iyengar Yoga Centre is that our teachers are well-trained and continue to study, practise and deepen their knowledge of yoga. Such accountability is essential if they wish to retain their accreditation. As a student of yoga the accountability is to your higher self, which is often simply spoken of as the Self.
In the first chapter of one of my most treasured books, God in All Worlds, an anthology of contemporary spiritual writing compiled by Lucinda Vardey, I came across the following statement by the psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl :
The concept of God need not necessarily be theistic. When I was fifteen years old or so I came up with a definition of God which, in my old age, I come back to more and more. I would call it an operational definition. It reads as follows: God is the partner of your most intimate soliloquies
This definition continues to work for me in my old age too, reinforced by my morning practices of asana, pranayama and dhyana (reflection).
I know I am going on and on about the importance of establishing a personal practice of yoga particularly during this pandemic, but I can truthfully say that a home practice is a means of defining your own purpose in life and staying in touch with your higher self—and it won’t do your health any harm either!
And when classes resume you will value them more than ever whilst sustaining your home practice!
Written in gratitude for my teachers who taught me the value of the practice of yoga,
Shirley Daventry French
NOTE: In the early days of the Centre a small group of members gathered together in one of our homes to help each other establish a practice. Gathering is definitely not in favour at present, but if you are practising on your own and questions arise, send them to Gary Wong firstname.lastname@example.org.