I am home; transition made by 29 hours of endurance though the jolting car ride to Mumbai, the seemingly endless wait in the brand new international terminal in Mumbai and then the interminable hours on the two flights home. I saw four movies and slept only a little, arrived at 10:30 in the morning and managed to stay awake until after 8 in the evening. It helps with the shifting to what feels like should be night time to day time and vice versa. I am home, but a part of my psyche is still there, processing the month.
What is learned in a month away from all the is familiar, away from normal routines and freed from the distractions that usually detract from the ability to focus? What is changed by emersion into 4-5 hours of yoga a day and being exclusively with people of like minds and interests? How does one respond to being taught by the best there is? The answers are there fleetingly when the experience is so fresh and so elusive because the experience is so new.
I was asked yesterday if the classes were hard. I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know what the word “hard” meant. The classes can be challenging, inspirational, revelatory. They can change you; they can make you see yourself in different ways and take you out of what you think of yourself as you. Perhaps that can be hard. If ‘hard’ means you have to work your muscles more than you might want to: yes, that can happen sometimes. But you always learn that that is really pretty insignificant part of the process. You can always do it, and usually more, and that is just a peripheral part of what you are doing. What you learn is that it is not the ability of the muscle that stops you, it is what you are thinking that stops you. When you learn that you realize it is an empowering lesson. You think you are limited, but it is just the opposite. What you are doing there in the classes is learning to get rid of the “I”. And it can be hard to do that, we are pretty attached to ourselves and who we perceive ourselves to be; our capabilities, our strengths, our weaknesses, the problems that define us, our pride and our egos. And it can be liberating.
The Iyengars can be very stern when they teach. They also show tremendous compassion. They also demonstrate that they practice what they teach. They are there everyday in the practice hall doing themselves what they are teaching. Doing and doing more. Mr Iyengar at 95 looks incredible and is strong and vibrant. He can do independent headstands for 20 minutes or more. His skin tone is glowing and the flesh under the skin is firm. His voice is strong and his mind is sharp and accurate. He teaches his granddaughter everyday and is still refining his understanding of how to penetrate the body touch the inner layers of the self and consciousness to reach the very soul and nature of the being.