The Lions Practice


““The life and existence of every great, beautiful and useful building, as well as its relation to the place where it has been built, often bears within itself complex and mysterious drama and history. However, one thing is clear; that between the life of the townsmen and that bridge, there existed a centuries-old bond. Their fates were so intertwined that they could not be imagined separately and could not be told separately. Therefore the story of the foundation and destiny of the bridge is at the same time the story of the life of the town and of its people, from generation to generation, even as through all the tales about the town stretches the line of the stone bridge with its eleven arches and the kapia in the middle, like a crown” Ivo Andric- The Bridge on the Drina . 

And so it is with Iyengar Yoga, the entanglement of the teachings within the practitioners is so exquisitely exchanged it would be impossible to define beginning from end in order to separate them, with BKS being the defining point or crown in the middle. 

The news of Geeta Iyengar passing was a blow not entirely unexpected but still a shock to our systems. 

In the Iyengar world, this past year has been spent preparing for the centennial year of BKS Iyengar. 

The hardships of his passing and questions of where we stand in the world seemed to be weighted, with the concentration of what will we become without The Lion to lead his pride. In a practice of non-attachement we developed a devote devotion to the man and the method.

The Iyengar family is as personal to its practitioners as it is too yoga. We cannot separate ourselves from this, it is an inevitable reality of the work. The practice is designed for exchange. Nor would any of us want it else wise, we strive to keep this fire ever burning, to transmit a fragment of what was given to us, to others so they may experience some inspiration to move onwards in the subject of yog. We discover the entanglement of consciousness so sincerely not just within ourselves but within each other because to practice The Lion’s yoga has to be a choice and it has to be reestablished each day. Our definitions of ourselves and our expectations of ourselves require equal parts of humility and hubris. We are forever pushing Sisyphus’s rock and contented to do so. 

If we are alive then we have suffered heartbreak, be it the loss of a job, a friend, a loved one, we have all know the depths of despair where our soul is plundered with every doubt we ever recognized or refused within ourselves. 

But like spring violently bursting forth after winter we too must rediscover ourselves and rise to the occasion at hand. 

Being lost is utterly disorientating. But we are indebted to that experience so our compassion for others positions is also at the table for negotiation.

As I see this year wrapping up, the celebrations of BKS’s Iyengar’s 100th and Geeta’s determination to make it through this monumental moment gives me the courage to rectify my wrongs and move forward with new goals in the understanding that now is all we have and it must be used wisely. 

The influence and the outcome of the practice cannot be denied. It would be impossible to determine what my life would be like without this practice. My daughter was weaned for BKS Iyengar in 2005. My first plane ride away from her was to study with Geeta in 2008. Where my life begins is when I took my first Iyengar class and the fear of failure has never been so radically observant in my behavior and judgment of myself as it was from then until now. We come to know exactly who we are through this practice than we decide who we want to be and take those measures. There is never a moment where our choices are not before us to recognize and act upon. 

Yoga is the practice of skill in action is it not? 

But also in those reckoning moments where everything crashes around us, we are delivered those shimmers of what makes us worthy and coaxes us further to transmit everything humankind can be. 

My personal time with the Iyengar family is limited but they are in my blood, our blood. Iyengar yoga is the vessel to enable the conditions for a perfect entanglement of consciousness.  Everything gets turned on, every dial at keen reception and every channel opened.  

We are a funny breed, Iyengar practitioners, we will always find one another and despite bickering between us the voice of BKS is never the quarrel. There is no doubt of his teaching as it has been tried and true for his 80 plus years of steadfast practice. He held himself to the standards we aim to uphold. He did before he asked us to do. His wants corresponded in equal balance to his sources. He was and remains a master of his art of which I am ever humble and proud to be stamped with. Even as new body sciences come about and claims of science recognitions come to the news, we as Iyengar practitioners just reflect on something he told us in teaching that again proves his efforts, to be sure and to be a reality of our practice. 

So the crossroads we stand at now is not new it is thousands of years old and it remains the same. 

What are we to do with the time we are given? We have only that. 

As my numbers increase, I feel that urgency on new and daunting levels. With what I know, which is virtually nothing, this is the purist I have to give. For everything this practice has given me, my conscience does not permit me to take to the subject lightly even if we end up in peels of laughter during our time together. 

The subject itself is a doctrine on how we heal pain individually to global scales. 

What I have decided is that for the next year we go back to the beginning. Our classes will be from Light on Yoga. We will take his practice as our own and find the places untouched and bring life there. 

We will discover together why he sequenced as he did, we will bring forth something of the past to shine on our future.

I will never be anything different than this practice and I am sure I speak for all Iyengar practitioner’s when I say this. 

It’s what makes us relatable and un-relatable at the same moment. We are bound and I, myself have never experienced a connection as this one which has provided for all possibilities and aspects of life. BKS runs in our veins because we have made it so, we have chosen to put to the test what he has taught and he has never failed us. Time and again he showed us how to use yoga to be human and a human, being. 

Last year I came in on fire to Meet the Resistance because I needed to feel something different I needed to see myself in another way. This year it’s clean, clear, slow and steady to Meet the Resistance discover, every nuance I have not considered and build a bridge to a new practice and way of living. 

I watch Lord Of The Rings every year. It keeps me honest and prepares me to understand that at our worst we can be at our best if we Meet the Resistance. 

Let’s get Kraken, show them what we are made of. 

Kara Thorsen