Yoga Shala: Boulder’s Embodiment of BKS Iyengar
Scott Rowland • March 18, 2015 • Lifestyle •
Liberation reigns supreme in the freedom of a regal, yet comfortable body posture.
A month ago, I would have never considered such an extreme introduction, but from head to toe, the Yoga101 class at Yoga Shala in Boulder, CO organizes a foundation for aligning the body, mind and spirit into a cohesive practice.
The roots of Yoga Shala, the heart and soul, come from the tradition of BKS Iyengar, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers and founder of “Iyengar Yoga”. His teachings translate into an understanding that mindfulness becomes a stepping stone for opening the body and re-activating the spirit, to honor the light and love within each of us.
A good yoga instructor, like those at Yoga Shala, will greet each student at the beginning of class. This tradition allows the teacher to get a feel for any injuries in order to set appropriate accommodations for the day’s session.
BKS Iyengar once said that “Pain is there as a teacher, because life is filled with pain…. Since pain is inevitable, asana is a laboratory in which we discover how to tolerate the pain that cannot be avoided and how to transform the pain that can.” A deep level of consideration born from the voice of a foremost yogi, his message still resonates today.
Yoga101 is a comprehensive four-week introductory course geared toward “developing inner awareness by using the body as a focal point for attention, creating a conscious state of being in the moment”.
Upon initial entry into the yoga room, the hardwood floors glowed as if I was embarking upon a divine transformation. The sun shined brightly through the expansive panel of windows- perfect for my view of the Flatirons, which were beautifully blanketed from the night before.
At this point, my previous Sunday’s jaunt through the hiking trail along the mountains filled my thoughts. I was ready to learn the difference between stretching and yoga, but I sat in wonder of the weather instead.
I did not yet accept yoga as an optimal substitute.
My previous introduction consisted of free sessions offered at a university, usually starting late or cancelled for no disclaimed reason. Rarely did the young instructors go into explanation of a given pose, leaving me to mimic instead of engage.It was not a conducive environment for setting a yoga standard or receiving proper tutelage. Really, if you’re not pushing yourself, it’s just stretching.
Class began appropriately with an insightful expose on mindfulness as an intrinsic connection to Iyengar Yoga. Only when thoughts are synchronized with the body can a responsive stability maximize the benefits of each position. If a discipline is established, yoga can redevelop muscle support by opening tight areas of the body, heighten the practitioner’s spirit, and increase stamina. In the midst of increasing awareness, muscles that I never knew existed become predominant, even necessary. I quickly learned that if it feels good, deepen the pose.
During all four sessions, a tranquil ease of balancing instruction and improving individual practice allowed for complete surrender. Each one of us in this introductory course displayed tendencies of tense muscle habits or old injury restrictions deterring proper technique. So a short, considerate amount of time was taken before new poses for demonstration.
Once the class began to engage a given technique, the instructor would make her way around the room to suggest specific improvements. This allowed me to set aside old habits and give in to the posture-enhancing stability that I haven’t felt in years.
My technique and confidence increased drastically over the weeks. We started with the most basic position, Swastikasana or cross pose, on day one and ended the last class with an introductory variation of my first Salamba Sarvangasana, or supported shoulderstand. On multiple occasions, I noticed myself succumbing to the exact tendencies we were warned to avoid. There were also many occasions when the instructor would offer me specific points of improvement. Either way, safeguards were put in place to counter laziness and injury.
The instructor’s consideration made the sessions inspiring, as if they truly understood the importance of building a comfortable environment for beginners.
My experience at Yoga Shala was far more helpful than any other I had yet received. Within four classes, my connection to the Iyengar tradition established a foundation for yoga practice that will stay with me for the rest of my life, which is the most fulfilling part. No matter where I am, yoga class, the gym, on vacation or at home, I can use these techniques to build a holistic approach to a mindful, comfortable freedom.
BKS Inyegar established a tradition many years ago, and today his legacy continues to improve the lives of yoga practitioners around the world, specifically at the enriching Yoga Shala.
“Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the inward journey to discover it. “ – BKS Iyengar