Written by Julie Cohen
Iyengar yoga is an essential part of Brandy Baybutt’s daily routine.
When Brandy Baybutt was 13, she took at yoga class that she never forgot. She spent the next decade looking for a way to repeat that experience.
While undergoing professional dance training, she was lucky enough to find a studio in Toronto where the teachers had been trained by Vanda Scaravelli, who learned the asanas from B.K.S. Iyengar.
“The Scaravelli-influenced studio was really good for me,” said Brandy. “I started my training there in my early twenties but then had to move back to Vancouver. I couldn’t find anything like it until I found a teacher who transported me back to that experience I had when I was 13.”
Today, Brandy is a certified Iyengar teacher with her own studio in Sooke. She also teaches once a week at the Iyengar Yoga Centre in Victoria. Her inspiration is B.K.S. Iyengar himself.
“I’m blown away by the level of connection he was able to achieve with himself, with the practice, with teaching and spreading the practice as well as the clarity in his mind state,” she said. “Every page I read of Light on Life is profound.”
Brandy is loyal to the Iyengar tradition because when she found these teachings, she felt a sense of arriving. She is captivated by the depth in which Iyengar yoga explores both the body and the mind and the mind-body-soul connection.
“It’s very thorough and there’s always something to be working on,” she commented. “The training is very in line with my dance training. The precision, the thoroughness, its flexibility and the way it helps me learn how to support my body in postures is very appealing.”
According to Brandy, not only are the physical benefits of the practice enormous, but Iyengar yoga also helps her with how to be in the world, with relationships and with how she interacts with people. “The practice feeds into every aspect of my life,” she said. “It allows for a shift in the mind state, a shift in how to live in the world — with joy.”
Her “aha” moment was when she realized that yoga practice can be anywhere, anytime. “My life is very full with many challenges and time restraints,” she said. “When I realized that every moment can be an opportunity to practice and that I didn’t need to be alone on my mat, it opened up a different approach. This process is slow and ongoing, but I continue to work on this daily.”
Brandy’s favorite poses are backbends because the more she works on them, the more challenged she is and the more she has to work meditatively in the poses to create the opening. “As I invite more opening, I feel a bigger sense of freedom in my body and the more I open and the further I go, the more I have check in to make sure that my mind state is really staying connected and quiet,” she said. “I like the meditative aspect and repose in the pose quality.”
What Brandy looks for in a studio isn’t tangible; rather, it’s the feeling of the studio itself. “When I went to Ann Kilbertus’ class, it was really like arriving home,” Brandy recalls. “It was so supportive and kind and genuine. My eldest son, who spent a lot of time at the studio, commented that the older ladies at the Iyengar Yoga Centre were so nice and that he never saw that in older women elsewhere. He considered anyone over 25 to be older, but he’s right. There is a real sense of non-competitiveness at the centre. People are there to learn and help each other through challenges.”