Seeds of Santosa - There are no basic poses...

"Iyengar Yoga is good for the basics..."

This is of course, absolutely correct. 
But I wonder how many hear that statement and dismiss Iyengar yoga beyond a beginning because of the impression that Iyengar yoga will not continue to provide a path of wonder, discovery, empowerment? How many dismiss and solid framework for building a practice that will sustain you no matter what comes at you, for rigidity of thought, rather than the basic premise of the beginning of the experiment?
For beginners, props initially give support and all the student to access a part of the body that they couldn't if their hands are on the floor for instance in an intense forward bend - Uttanāsana. The experimentation, the deepening and playtime of practice really begins with props when you are experienced as a practitioner. 
Ever felt like you're flying in Virabhadrāsana/Warrior III? Felt a real extension of the back of the spine in a deep back bend? In the spine in an inversion? These are all gifts that props give you. They don't remove the effort of the pose as a bonus they give you direction, stability...

So yes, there is a beginning in Iyengar yoga and I'm happy to report, there is no end in Iyengar yoga. "There are no basic poses" Guruji said, "only basic students". Every pose from standing on your feet to legs knotted behind your head can be dissected and redefined within the body. There is a reproduction of a pose for mood, physical condition and time of life ; all the same pose rendered a different way.
That thrills me.

Seeds of Santosa - Transformation is in the Details

This blogging lark is not an easy business. More often than not I'm at a loss for something to write, though I've made a promise to myself that I will write once a fortnight (bi-weekly), I'm not in the business of writing just because... it is of course it's own discipline; a means of training the mind to be a regular participant in something that allows the individual to grow. My question to me is, can I do it and am I really doing it? (OK that's two questions...). Currently no, but with the convention around the corner, I'm on the precipice of being effusive about my experience there, so we're going for an "average".

The potential is in the air...

Here's another two. Why Iyengar Yoga for me? Why not some other form of yoga? We all know that modern yoga is fruit of the same tree. Perception of play is perhaps the answer in my humble opinion. By that I mean, a lot of, but not all modern yoga is built on movement from one pose to another and it absolutely has merit, so does the investigation of each pose in detail. Āsana is like being in front of a masterful work of art with the eyes of a novice. Have you ever been to a museum or gallery and there are seats where you can just sit and contemplate the enormity of the work? Have you ever done just that? It changes your perception and experience of the work and your idea of the artist, their intent and view into the window of their workspace. I'll never forget going to see an exhibition of a British artist Howard Hodgkin and being less than impressed (I was young and full of myself) at the bright daubs on the canvasses until I was at one end of the room and turned around. Each canvass sprung into life and far from being separated from the artist, I became aware of the space he regularly worked in. It was intimate at the same time as realizing that I was on an expedition. Maybe that sounds all a bit profound, but I can assure you it was true. Sometimes the details are only revealed when you can stand back.

Our personal practice in āsana runs parallel to this idea. We stay in the poses, first to increase endurance as a beginner, but then to see the āsana as a canvas, as a whole. We come close to the work in different ways, by applying restraint or working with a shape (prop) which are unyielding, to give us a different perspective. Guruji encouraged us to explore or limitations and move beyond them. What can you find in yourself when you are asking a different question in the same arena, apply a different colour and see the interplay between what is already there and the new application? Then find contentment in the present. Judgement without criticism. Measurement without judgement. Props are often surprising element and throw up a different question to what you expect. They are also for the experienced - also a surprise when I first heard it, and then realised who true a statement it was in practice... always in practice.

Seeds of Santosa - Tadasana with Arun

There is a mini-story behind Sri Arun having a foam pad strapped to him....

About a week and a half ago I came back from another wondrous week in Naples with Sri Arunji and his very accessible, simple, philosophical yog.

His message & practice is a paradox razor-like dissection with a gloved hand of "Maitri" friendliness. Razor-like? Well yes, you feel every asana as keenly as you allow it to get into you. You do more that you think you can and more than you thought you were doing. (Surprise!)

At the beginning of the 4 day session there was repeated emphasis on Tadasana, not just standing in it, like we sometimes do, but after each standing pose - Tadasana - bring the previous pose into your Tadasana. Asking yourself time and again, bodily, "what did I learn just now?" with your brain not in the way. So simple. So obvious. 

The other thing I found myself doing is Pranayama in the poses. Not consciously at first, but holding the poses Ujjayi became essential to be able to explore what I was and was not doing and looking for stillness. 

Guruji left us with a very clear, simple, yet multi dimensional practice to explore, experiment & experience (3Es!) & make your own practice. Arun's practice embodies with philosophy. To be around him in his practice is impressive, to be his student is enlightening, to be a guest in his presence is intimidating, very few people are so powerful as to be completely quiet and yet open to all possibilities of conversation, though he does his best in all three states to put you at ease - quite successfully.

If you get the chance, his classes are not to be missed.