Sunday, October 28, 2012


Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh visited the Yoga Centre here in Toronto.  A longtime student of BKS, he is a gifted teacher himself.  Marlene, the centre's most senior teacher, holds him in great esteem. Spending a few days with him I understand why.  He was able to teach a room full of students and give new insights to all of us, regardless of our level.  Three days is not a long time, yet I am taking away insights that I know will carry through the lifetime of my practice.   

Day One:  The first night we laid the foundation for the next few days by focusing on standing poses.  In fact, the whole first hour was spent exploring tadasana.  The wall was a useful prop to bring greater awareness to the back of the body.  It helped me reference what 'straight' really is.  Zubin mentioned some B.K.S. classes spent 5 full days on this pose before progressing to others.  It isn't the number of poses you can do or the complexity or even how well you do them, as much as the awareness and consciousness in the pose.  Feeling the bone, muscle, skin and bringing intelligence to the body.  Over the next two hours we worked in some additional standing poses, finding tadasana in each.  And before our last savasana, we took tadasana again.  How different it felt, how much more dimension.
Yoga flow

Day Two:  The second day was longer and for me, more tiring than the first.  Backbends and forward bends. I seemed so close to getting new movement in my upper back, opening my shoulders and the back of my legs.  The goal though is not to overdo one area at the expense of another, and to bring awareness to the whole of the body when doing the pose - front and back, top and bottom, inside and outside.  Manipulating arms and legs to get access to the spine, paying attention to hands and feet as the nerve endings they are, feeling the flow of energy and the affect of the different asanas on the body and the breath. Emphasis on alignment, of course. But also of connection to your own body.  It's not about doing poses that look good on the cover of Yoga Journal or rushing to take the final stage of the pose, it's more about understanding what it takes to get you there, and then to integrate the whole of the body, mind and breath in the present moment.  You can only do the pose in your own body, understanding its condition.

Day Three: There are no poses or sequences 'for the knee', or 'for the back', because you should not be working body parts in isolation. The asanas are meant to bring the body back to neutral.  You can rejuvenate after spending all day at work with an active mind and tomasic body by using the poses help to reverse that condition, healing by bringing the mind to rest with an active body. Using blocks and changing hand position with adho mukha svasana totally opened the shoulders. Supporting the head in uttanasana and adho mukha svasana while keeping the legs and arms active can help to rest the mind. The strong root of the leg of supta padangusthasanaa is something to keep in mind with sirsanaa.   In between poses, we would again return to tadasana, to feel how differently the body felt as it responded from one asana to the next.
I'm glad someone was taking notes!  They will be shared and distributed at some future date.  I'm sure as I am reviewing I will be able to pull more wisdom.

Zubin is saddened that the Oxford dictionary currently defines Iyengar yoga as 'yoga done with props'. When he shared this disappointment, one of the students resolved to use her contacts to update the description to 'using props to bring intelligence to the body'.

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