Reflective practice

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The link between teaching and a personal practice cannot be overstated. Iyengar writes:

‘Many say or think that the process of learning is easy, whereas I say that “learning” is not that easy and to maintain what is learnt is still more difficult. You laugh at this statement, but truthfully speaking it is the pride of limited knowledge which stops or restrains you from “learning”. In order to learn, one has to be innocent, one has to sober one’s intelligence. You see, watch, notice or understand only within the frame of your intellectual mind, which has its own limits, whereas, I keep my mind and intelligence open to see what few things flash forth, crossing my limited mind and intelligence. Due to this open-mindedness I learnt to see thousands of things flashing when I am practicing myself as a learner. A learner in me learnt to show or express through my available medium -the body -things that are simple, complicated, intricate, hidden and latent in each asana and made me to be a teacher. If you want to be a teacher you may have to scratch your head for a long time to trace the hidden qualities of yoga to come to the right grip on the asana …

… Iyengar Yoga is not a brand. It is a quality. This qualitative yoga cannot be done like tasting different chocolates at the same time. One has to find out the skill in synchronizing the pranic energy of the body with the intellectual energy of the head and heart, or with the sharpness of the intelligence of the head and the heart with the right utilisation of pranic energy of the body! One has to study and synchronise the intellectual intelligence and pranic energy in the body and mind and vice-versa. One has to synchronise these two to bring harmony between energy and intelligence, and intelligence and energy, whether it is in the arch of the foot, or the foot, toe, arm, wrist, finger or whatever. You need to have complete involvement in your teaching..

… I have been practicing, teaching and learning from my own practice day in and day out for the last sixty years. I have not developed inertia in my practice. I love to go deep into the cave of my body. This is because I have a mind to learn while practicing. I do not practice for the sake of practice. I practice for the sake of learning, I am learning still, to know in what way, if I do, would it be still better than what I am doing now. I use the present to build up for future practice and at the same time I drop the present as it moves to the past. My practice inspires me to do research in my own work so that I penetrate and search further …

… Learn to observe the ways of the brain and educate it to watch its behaviour and adjust after reflection, so that the brain, the body and the mind co-ordinate with each other in harmony and concord …

… As a teacher, first get the feedback from your own practices in your own body and self. Then work out on your own what to give and how much to give, according to the calibre of the students. Do not experiment your ideas on your students but experiment on yourself to learn. Try on your own body before you try on some one else’s body. Develop the foundation of each asana on yourselves’. [1]

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[1] BKS Iyengar in the article Teaching the Art of Teaching by Stephanie Quirk, Yoga Rahasya, Vol 7, No 4