Iyengar Institute Silver Jubilee Celebration

By Kevin Durkin

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One fast passed exhilarating week in January marked the 25th anniversary of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute. The honor, of course, was the opportunity to study directly with Guruji. The additional honors of attending Question and Answer sessions with Geeta and Prashant and the lectures by physicians, authors, film screenings and stories and felicitations by esteemed guests made the entire week an inspiration. To see the full effect of Guruji’s contribution to the art of Yoga and his contribution to humanity, on a global and timeless level, is both overwhelming and humbling, and makes me grateful to be part of such a community.

Guruji admonished us all during the classes; “Do not return to your countries and teach what you are learning here. You must practice with it until you understand it”. Unlike the 80th birthday celebration in Dec. of 98, which 800 attended, this celebration required a strict standard of acceptance. All of the 250 participants had a minimum of ten years teaching experience. In addition to the participants there were an additional 50 observers and local volunteers and guests. Guruji told us that in his sixty-five years of teaching “…my technique has not changed, it has only become more refined”. That was the primary learning point that I got out of the four classes,...refinement. The classes were called A Teachers Guidance Course. Guruji was attempting to guide us as to how to think. It has always amazed me how Guruji can teach from any metaphor or from the strictest adherence to science. During morning practice I heard him teach using grammar as the metaphor. He compared the lines in the body to periods, commas, and question marks. He can teach from the five elements, the Sutras, or from a medical model, and then tie all the different metaphors and models together into a whole. It is this ability for both critical and compassionate thinking that Guruji was attempting to pass on to us.

There were many events at Nehru Memorial Hall that were quite memorable. A lecture by Dr. Krishna Raman author of A Matter of Health and a personal story by a gentleman who began his studies with Guruji in 1946 were two that stand out. For those of us in the Inter-mountain association the biggest thrill was to see The Colorado School Of Iyengar Yoga featured in a film documentary of Guruji’s work around the world. The film was several stories of how Iyengar Yoga is used in exceptional circumstances. The treatment of heroin addicts in Calcutta, an anorexia patient in Spain, convicts in a prison in Israel, and then a feature on The Yoga Group classes at CSY. Denise Johnson is the founder of The Yoga Group. She gave an articulate interview, in which she spoke about teaching HIV+ clients. Classes at CSY, taught by Jayne Slatter were filmed. This documentary is being distributed worldwide through Public Broadcasting Television. Well done, Denise and Jayne, we are all very proud of you.

The trip to India is an arduous one. For every insight gained, a thousand questions appear. India has taught me to always be happy where I am on the path and Guruji has taught me to always take one step further.

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