Yoga for stillness of the mind - bringing it all together
Today was the final class in Prashant's online series 'Revisiting the basics in Iyengar yoga'. 'Basics' is a pretty interesting word in the context of these classes. One would be forgiven for thinking such classes might involve beginner Asanas, or fundamental ideas such as alignment or the direction of muscle movement. These are not Prashant's area of interest. What Prashant means by 'basics' are concepts of yoga beyond the physical practice and outcomes of health and well-being. I have interpreted this as the yoga within, as yoga for stillness of the mind.
And 'basic' doesn't mean easy. I heard nothing in the past week that I hadn't already heard from him in two month-long study trips to Pune. I can only hope that I am perhaps a tiny, tiny bit closer to understanding what he means and how it lets us seek out yoga for stillness of the mind.
His discussions are based on concepts of yoga within you and the 'basics' are different ways or approaches to try and get to the yoga within you. Everything that he had us do over the past week was to try to illustrate this for us and to try to get us to experience it.
From my understanding, the basic premise is the interactivity and interplay of different elements and different processes, within themselves and with each other., and all within oneself.
If we look at the illustration above, we can see sets of three items that interact with each other. The primary one is the 'triad' of mind, body and breath. The others are what Prashant calls 'processes'.
Doer/Doing/Done - Prashant calls this the 'activity' process, the physical aspect of Asanas. In this process, there is an actor (the 'doer', or subject) who effects an action (the 'doing') on an area of the body or the breath (the 'done', or object).
Knower/Knowing/Known - Prashant calls this the 'knowledge' process, the understanding of what is happening. The person (the 'knower'), by observing and reflecting (the 'knowing') can understand what effect results (the 'known').
Benefactor/Benefit/Beneficiary - This, I have interpreted to be an extension of the 'knowledge' process, understanding the nature of the result (the 'benefit'), the source of that result (the 'benefactor') and the recipient or object of that result (the 'beneficiary').
Over the two hours, he took us through a number of Asanas, most of them twisting Asanas such as Parsva Swastikasana, Parsva Padmasana, Parsva Upavistha Konasana, Bharadvajasana, Marichyasana, all with long holdings. During these, he asked us to focus on the spine and the back and explore the interplay of the mind, the body and the breath amongst themselves and with the activity and knowledge processes. He asked us to consider that since all of this is within ourselves, the 'roles' could rotate, both within their own 'triad' but also within the wider sphere of the whole. As an example, the breath could be the doer, by slowing down; or it could be the beneficiary, of conscious modulation; or it could be the known, when the effect on it is recognised.
As I said earlier, these may be 'basics', but there's nothing basic about these concepts at all. Prashant acknowledged that... He acknowledged that he had given us a lot of information that would take time and thought to truly understand. He asked us to review it, to consider it, to ponder on it, to ruminate on it. In understanding, perhaps it will lead us to that yoga within, to yoga for stillness of the mind.
Revisiting the basics in Iyengar yoga’ - thematic classes by Prashant Iyengar. This is the last of the sessions which took place from 12-19 February 2021. Don't forget to check out posts for other days in the program.
Carole Carpentier has been a student of Iyengar yoga since 2008.