This past weekend myself and many others were fortunate to study with Devki Desai. In my humble opinion, she encompasses all that one should to share not only the teachings of the Iyengar family, but the Art of Yoga as a whole. We were all challenged physically, mentally, spiritually, rhythmically, and at the close of the last session we were left with a sense of calmness and balance.
This was her message this weekend, to combine the physical and mental aspects of Yoga to cultivate a life of balance, Equanimaty. Devki led us through a sequence given to students in Russia a few years ago by Guruji. The sequence began with supported poses to reduce anxiety and despression in all of us. Then she took us through more stabalizing poses that included seated postures that lent to length in the spine, stability, and maturity in standing poses. Then on to pretty intense abdominal work, supported backbends and inversions to extend more intelligence to the sense of stability in our bodies and minds.
The last session is what I would call the "exorcisism" sequence. It felt like I was right back at the Institute in Pune, India. Devki explained that once a student with anxiety or despression or even extreme stress gained a sense of relief and stability, the student should move and break up the rigidity. This last sequence was full of jumpings, handstand variations, headstands, backward extensions, another handstand (which felt sooooo light!) then supported inversions and a long savasana. The 3 hours of intense work require students to be aware, alert, and most of all mature. I would say 3 years ago I would have injured myself because of my ego being bruised that I could not do everything. Now I find that I feel my body and mind are strong enough for the challenge, whether or not I am successful in the posture itself. I don't really mind that I have a ways to go in my practice. It gives me something to look forward to, watching how Devki, 20 years older than me moves with a sense of freedom and joy and most of all love.