I wasn’t expecting to connect with Prashant’s teaching. He has a philosophical nature and I have a need for the tangible.
However, I found a deep connection with his teaching. He talked about how Iyengar yoga has become a demonstrative sport – a performance yoga. “The teacher says, do this, do that, turn your right foot out, turn left foot in, press the big toe down, don’t let the little toe come up…” He said our teachers are trying to teach us the ‘correct pose’ but there is no such thing. There is no one correct way to practice any pose.
He told us that the ‘why’ of a pose is more important than the ‘how’. The ‘how’ depends on the ‘why’ of the pose, not the other way around. For example. Teachers say the back leg must be straight in Uttitha parsvakonasana. Why? He made us go into the pose and bend the back leg, then asked us what happens to the spine when we do this? Does bending the back leg allow more freedom in the spine? Yes! When bending the back leg I found I was able to revolve the torso more easily and the pose became light. Once I felt that, I straightened the leg and the lightness remained. He says you have to learn when to intensely stretch the back leg straight.
Prashantji does not want our poses to be static, he wants them to evolve and change as we work in them. If you go away exhausted from trying to practice these static, perfect poses, what good is that? What purpose does it serve?
We used Uddiyana to work the legs in Uttita Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, and Adho mukha svanasana. He said that we must learn to access the breath in all standing postures. This will adjust the legs differently than merely biomechanical action. Biomechanical action of the body has many limitations and must be done in connection to the breath. The breath must be applied, whether it’s Uddiyana, full thoracic breath, or accessing the mind with the breath.
He told us we were all over the hill and (we are now going down). Perfection is not possible due to the aging process. Other aspects of yoga have to become more ingrained in our practice our energy force, our breath. I found this very interesting.
He said that we are just ‘doing’ the poses not ‘being in’ the poses. We are always looking outward, listening to our teachers who come with their own problems and limitations and we ignore the most supreme teacher within ourselves. The only way to evolve, to progress, to truly practice, is to listen to our inner teacher.