Friday, January 23, 2009

Thank you Prashant. – From Light to Dark, and Back.

Think about having a teacher that can, whether you know it or not, make you question the very fabric of your being. To have you questioning the depths within yourself that you never knew were there…  That is what it is like to study with Prashant Iyengar.

 Prashant is continuously preaching, “you are only doing it physiocratically.”  “You are in a doing culture!”  “When are you going to learn?” 

You see…  I believe am a person, a teacher who lives, draws from, and basks in the light that is Yoga.  Hardly ever exploring the vast caverns of your mind where only a glimmer of light helps you to see the hand in front of your face.  But, what I learned today is that there is a very dark side to this Yoga, and that this darkness has just as much to teach us, and just as much for us to draw from.  The darkness is the unknown of what we think we know about ourselves.  The darkness of questioning what we know, and what we believe to be True.

And it takes a man like Prashant Iyengar to push you down that tunnel of the unknown.

In Prashant’s class this morning, he lectured that Yoga has become “big business,” and that all Yoga teachers today are trying to be “impressive” teachers who impress their students so that they continue to come to class, and that none of them are teaching the true meaning of Yoga…  This insulted me as a teacher because he is right.  It bruised my ego so badly that I left class insulted and angry – and remained that way all day. It was something I just couldn’t let go.  Then I realized what he was teaching, and I found it was something I shouldn’t let go…

I started thinking about the questions he was asking: “When are you going to get out of this gym psychosis?”  “When are you going to understand what you are supposed to learn here?”  “All you think about is what you are supposed to do,” he says.  “You never think about why you do, or how you do!”

And then, out of nowhere, I found myself asking myself these questions, and what emerged was something I already knew, but didn’t…

I realized that I AM a person that truly loves this practice and would not give up spreading that love for anything in the world.  But, you see, I never questioned what it meant to me to be on this path…  I never thought about what it meant to me to be traveling this path.  I was just happy to be where I was.  I was proud to be on this Yogic path, and felt righteous to be a Yoga teacher.

I now see that I as a practitioner it is my responsibility to do the searching.  It is my quest to figure it out for myself, so that I can teach from my place and my experience. 

This new mindfulness has taught me to be a more observant practitioner, and to listen to instructions as a student and absorb them in such a way that I have an experience that becomes my truth.  I realized that none of it matters…  Lifting your kneecaps, opening your chest, stretching your legs, they all can all be physical traps.  What matters is what we do with them.  How we pay attention to them.  How we pay attention to the way the mind, and the breath connect with the body and mingle to move us through our endeavors, so that we start practicing Yoga. 

Prashant helped me to see this truth.  To see what it truly meant to be a student of Yoga, and to understand that this teaching of Yoga is a tremendously special endeavor.  But, most of all he gave me the courage, the means, and the opportunity to search the depths of myself for the answers. 

Like a strong Ardha Chandrasana, there is a side that is open, and brightly shining, but there is also the backside – the dark side of the moon. The side that is beneath the surface where there are questions to ask and work to be done – shoulder blades engaged, buttocks firm, arms and legs communicating for support, and that work feeds continuously to the light of our open chests and our open hearts brightly shining out into the world.     

Prashant has a way of beating you down and asking you questions that you think you can just tune out.  But if you are open they get in, and they make you question the very fabric of who you are, as a practitioner, as a teacher, and as a person.  He has searched the depths of his own mind and has developed a way to teach self-inspiration. 

So, through the search of my insulted and angry ego came clarity about what he was trying to accomplish as a teacher.  And in his genius way, he sent me down this tunnel of the unknown only to emerge out of the other side stronger and standing in awe of his bright shining light. 

- Adam