My head is filled with kaleidoscopic memories of Guruji’s students. The Iyengar family arranged a function to mark his birth anniversary yesterday. I almost didn’t go with all the additional work and chores I needed to get through but decided that everything else could wait.
A few of his old students shared their memories of this giant of a man and I listened and felt full. I don’t remember much of the words but I remember the sense of devotion, respect and great love. Prashantji’s words exhorting us to be worthy students of Guruji stayed on as a reminder to live the practice.
The other day in my reading I came across the words bhakti, yukti and shakti (Light on Life, page 189) and it got me thinking. The passage is a beautiful one and while that wisdom is perhaps something I may need many lifetimes to live, it is an inspiration. All my life, I lived in my head and felt disconnected with my heart and body. Yoga brought the much needed wholeness to my existence.
I never felt the sense of bhakti that I feel now when I offer my practice to my teachers and their teachers. I would often wonder how a sense of devotion would feel, especially when I would see Amma at her puja. Sometimes I used to feel a spot of envy for the absolute sureness of her shraddha. She didn’t need to think, over think or analyse anything. Her faith was her life.
Growing up, I didn’t have an easy or familiar relationship with God. I went along with the expectations of my family until I was old enough to rebel. And then I discarded everything to do with the religion of my birth. I called myself a pagan. After that, I dabbled in different philosophies without ever getting my feet wet. Time and again, I was drawn to ancient Indian thoughts and over a few years, it became a stronger and more assured way. It is an incredibly inclusive philosophy that provides for many ways to Yog.
My body was just something I never looked after. I took much for granted and abused it in many ways for many years. I didn’t feel connected with it since I floated in my head most of the time. Perhaps that explains why I have an invisible bubble around me when it comes to be physically expressive whether in dance or an embrace. Yoga taught me to feel again, sort of like a barren land coming to life slowly. I feel wonder and amazement now as I see the miracle of a healthy body. My asanas are warped and sometimes it bothers me but most of the time, I am able to trust the process and keep at it. There are days I slide and there are days when there is an aha moment. The greater challenge has been the yamas and the niyamas. Inevitably, I see how much of integrity is required. Yamas and kleshas. Kleshas and yamas. They are scattered all through my waking moments but the beauty is I only have to do as per my ability today.
I’ve been inclined to have monologues in my head and oftentimes would spend hours at a go without needing to talk. So it was a natural progression to spend time trying to understand and learn more and now I found a purpose greater than my limited self. It provokes me to go to those places that are uncomfortable without shame and guilt. These are first steps on a path that I believe has solid ground underneath. I feel secure enough to go forward even with the knowledge that I will encounter pain. The tiny transformations in my body, mind and heart with baby steps in yoga has made me a believer. This seems like such a lot of change already but it is just initial enthusiasm I suppose. I sometimes look back at my early running days and smile at how I felt it meditative. It is but as a rookie runner it felt so huge. I’m guessing I will see something like that here too and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
In gratitude for Guruji and his sadhana that allowed so many to have a glimpse of what it means to be truly human.