Sunday, January 23, 2011

Iyengar Course 2 Week 31 (Ariana)

I was all set to knock this one out this morning. I started with the headstand and I was feeling great. My headstand was feeling light and I was balancing well away from the wall. Then a few minutes into it my left shoulder started to hurt. I came down right away.

I stretched it out and it was still achy so I decided not to continue this sequence and put it on hold. Funny, because I was talking to my teacher, Jason Brown about this project the other day and he told me not to hurt myself.  I always try to be careful and not push myself into positions that compromise my body, but something went wrong today. It is hard to admit that.

I was not looking forward to this sequence anyway. I studied the poses before I started and realized that most of them are not part of my practice. I will have to start substituting most of the poses and modifying them from now on. I will look into the "why" behind the poses rather than the poses themselves when determining the alternatives. The "why" instead of the "what".

I am bummed and it hurts to laterally flex my neck to the left. I will resume this sequence when I feel better. Lesson learned. Warm up a little before doing headstand first thing in the morning.


Stefanie said...

I just found your blog - which was great. I am an Iyengar yoga teacher in training and keep my own blog on my experiences here ( and wanted to offer a few thoughts that you are probably already aware of...

I too, as part of my Teacher in Training, am assigned sequences from LOY. My teacher, who is quite senior and close to Iyengar himself, explained to us that the course as it was laid out has the poses in 'classical' sequence not necessarily the order of learning them. And for most people the classical sequence doesn't work. Also, that the Iyengars thinking on sequencing have changed a lot since this book was written. They don't really do Sirsasana/Sarvangasana right off the bat anymore. Someone at Guruji's level of practice is capable of doing that and remaining able to do whatever pose sequence that follows. For the rest of us mortals, shoulderstand is a very cooling pose so it would be pretty hard for me to start drop-backs or intense arm balances after doing that pose.

In a way, these sequences are idealized in that someone at a very high-level can make these work but for many of us mortals - it is pretty challenging.

With that being said, it is pretty cool that you guys are doing this. And as you get deep into the sequences there are those poses that are just not feasible. A suggestion would be to find a replacement pose that teaches the action/opening required to do the full pose.

I will enjoy seeing how this continues to unfold.

ariana said...

Thank you for posting. This is really great and helpful information.
Where are you studying for your teacher training? The path for Iyengar teachers is quite intimidating and daunting for me but I have toyed with the idea from time to time.

I think I had read that Iyengar's philosophy behind the sequencing has changed since he wrote the book. This makes a lot of sense as most teachers I study with have also changed and evolved over the years.

It is interesting and a relief to hear that they don't really do Sirsasana and Sarvangasana first thing any more.

I will continue to try to find replacements for poses and keep in mind that just because it's in the book does not mean that it is the only way to do it. And please let me know if you have suggestions along the way.

I will also enjoy seeing this unfold :)
And I look forward to reading your blog too!

Stefanie said...

Hi Ariana -

Thanks for responding back. I live in San Francisco and I study my teachers are Manouso and Gloria Goldberg. I am in the second year of a 3-year 500 hour program. So yes, you are correct this process of becoming an official Iyengar teacher is pretty intense. I am in the process of completing my application for the first level of certification which basically just says that you are being considered for certification. (I will be blogging a fair amount about this whole process. It pushes a lot of interesting buttons and will definitely be a learning experience.) We did our videos of us teaching yesterday that we have to submit to Manouso for him to evaluation and submit to the national committee!

And you are correct – Manouso has mentioned that Guruji wishes he could do the book over for a variety of reasons. The Iyengars have changed a lot of things in how the poses are structured as well as in sequencing. It is always good to study with teachers who see them often so that fresh knowledge gets passed on down.

I will keep my eye on your blog and if I can think of suggestions etc will love to offer that into the mix. Since we are being trained essentially to teach beginners, most of the asana work we are doing as it relates to assessment is your basic standing, seated, and twists asanas. We are given one of those sequences in LOY to practice for a month before we move onto the next. Right now we are working wayyyyy back week five and six before he even introduces the inversions. I use this sequence 2-3 times/week in my home practice and have given myself permission to play with the sequence of it. I am not fond of where he puts the Navasana work so I mix it up to see what happens.

One of the things I recommend doing from time to time –is the classical standing pose sequence. Do the standing poses exactly as Iyengar orders them in the book – it not the order in which a beginner would learn them but it is the intended order once all those poses are under your belt. It is very interesting to see how they are interconnected and lead one to the other. I sometimes do this on my own and also teach my class this sequence from time to time.

The beauty of this tradition and what I am slowly learning from my teachers is that each pose matters and nothing is stuck into a sequence without a purpose. Whether you are trying to learn a specific action, a certain category of poses or even a single pose, everything within a sequence is related to that which you are trying to convey and understand.

Well I could certainly go on about yoga – enjoy and I look forward to reading more about your experiment.