Echoes of Iyengar

IyengarIt’s perhaps an odd and humbling confession to make, but it turns out that, without even having ever met this belated noneganarian, and without realizing it, this man named Iyengar had gotten under my skin. Iyengar, as in BKS, the guru of yoga who died last week.

And by under my skin, I mean that the impact of his practice – passed onto me through his teachers – had touched me deeply, in ways I’d either ignored or couldn’t have fathomed.

It was a tumultuous time, fraught with too much noise (drilling through concrete and brick); technicians passing through for maintenance or repair; the overwhelming prospect of (yet more) de-cluttering ad nauseum; too many languages and too many lawyers, accountants, doctors and unsavory characters to keep track of. My mind was swirling with uncertainty, a plethora of items sweeping through the floodgates of my mind, each requiring ‘immediate attention,’ an asterisk needing to be affixed to its scribble on my ever-growing To-Do List.

My body and soul must have felt a pressing need to find peace amidst all the chaos. How else to explain why, despite the havoc, I nevertheless awoke for the three nights following Iyengar’s death with his name manifesting clearly in my mind. As if I was being guided by an unseen spirit, it took no effort at all for me to toss off the duvet cover, gather my hair up into a bun and unroll the mat.

It felt perfectly normal to be doing warrior, tree and pigeon poses at 3 o’clock in the morning. Three nights in a row.

It also felt perfectly normal to be lying on my back in corpse pose, breathing deeply on a nubby mat – rather than in my warm bed a few feet away.

It felt more than normal, it felt like I was reaching towards the center of the universe, the center of all things that can bear me and hold me still, stable, sure and safe.

After 20-30 minutes of twisting and bending my body, elongating my spine, focusing on my posture, and breathing out loudly enough to hear the air exiting my nostrils, I crawled back into bed, rolled over and fell asleep.

I could almost swear that I heard the muscles in my upper arms sigh in relief and gratitude.

The last night of three that I was nudged closer into the echo of Iyengar’s still-departing soul, I mused about my stealth:

If a body does tree pose without anyone observing, does it make a difference?

Clearly so. Iyengar’s lifetime legacy of giving life to, nourishing and nurturing our bodies, lives on, even if in nocturnal delirium, and even when nobody else is present.

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