Thursday, January 17, 2013

Iyengar Yoga, the Next Generation

When I was last at RIMYI in July 2010, Geeta Iyengar was taking a break from teaching to deal with health concerns. Everyone was quite concerned about her, as well as disappointed that our long awaited classes with our brilliant teacher were being subbed. We felt we had traveled such a long distance and sacrificed so much time, energy, and money, to come and study with her.

My generation of Iyengar Yoga practitioners who have had the honor of studying with her appreciate her unblinking keen eye, her precise language coupled with her scope of perception, and her ability to take a large varied group deeply into an asana and glimpse the eternal in that experience. For those of us who did not get to study directly with BKS Iyengar, Geetaji has provided a doorway lighting the way to his genius.

Our disappointment in 2010 was somewhat tempered by the opportunity to take classes with some of the other teachers at RIMYI, several of them with decades of experience. Now, in 2013, as Geetaji has stepped back from many of her responsibilities as the main torchbearer of her father’s teachings, the next generation of teachers at RIMYI have stepped up even more. In the last several years, many of them have traveled to Iyengar Yoga conventions on various continents, including ours, and are teaching more and more internationally.

These days, I can happily state that the classes they provide at RIMYI have fulfilled the role of Geetaji and Guruji. They are stepping into their shoes with grace, confidence, firmness, conviction, and an energetic freshness of spirit.

Abhijata Sridhar exemplifies this new generation. Only in her mid-20s in age, she has been the primary recipient of Guruji’s wisdom for the last 10 years or so, as he has tutored her intensely almost every day. He has virtually poured his knowledge into her. When she speaks, she conveys his depth of knowledge and insight. When she arrives Wednesday and Saturday mornings to teach the crowded Women’s classes that for many years were Geetaji’s signature classes, she goes directly to Guruji’s practice corner in the hall as students arrange their mats. He gives her detailed instructions on sequencing and actions. Throughout class, he communicates with her, and guides her as he is practicing and watching from Sirsasana or Dwipada Viparita Dandasana.

Although she teaches many Senior Teachers from around the world who have studied Iyengar Yoga longer than she has been alive, Abhi remains unflappable, calm, firm, and clear. She has the authority of Guruji fully behind her. Her classes are consistently superb, as she takes us from the gross to the subtle, penetrating our thick minds and resistant bodies and transporting us to a lighter, clearer, more sattvic state.

I feel I am watching history being made. As Geetaji and Guruji pass the torch of their teachings, the flame glows as bright as ever. Instead of losing our beloved teachers, we are witnessing the evolution of the teachings, through the brilliance of the next generation. We are honored to participate in this beautiful transition.


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