Why Study at RIMYI??

In my last blog post, I attempted to provide a sense for the richness of the learning environment when I am here, at RIMYI (the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India) fully immersed in yoga. My time now is nearing an end and incredibly, I’m already scheming…how soon will I be able to get back?! This trip, more than any other, is punctuated with a deep seated feeling that not only would I like to come back, but that it is essential for me to maintain a personal connection with the teachings coming from this place. This strong desire strikes me as odd because not only is my trip not yet over (!) but also, the trip has been immensely satisfying. Is it not somewhat obsessive to already be planning when to come back?

I’ve been reflecting a lot about this. What is it about studying at RIMYI that is different than anywhere else?

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One thing that keeps coming to mind is how special it is to be here and get to be a student of yoga in the truest sense. There is no obligation to teach, no obligation to impress, no obligation to earn an income. My sole responsibility is to study, to delve into my yoga practice. This inevitably will feed my teaching when I return, but for now, there’s a beautiful freedom that comes from not being bound by these other responsibilities. But…if I were to travel somewhere else to study, I might be able to achieve a similar mindset – turn off my teaching brain, my work brain, etc. so again, why is it different here?

The teachers here, for the most part, have quite literally grown up at the foot of the guru. The knowledge that they possess goes beyond the words (the teaching instructions) they utter. Their dedication to Guruji, to Iyengar Yoga and to the art of teaching embodies the principles of yoga in a way that is very hard, in my opinion, to accomplish in the west. Of course, I strive to uphold the standards and integrity of Iyengar Yoga both in my classes and day-to-day dealings, but there is something very different when there is already an underlying (cultural) veil of reverence and acceptance for the brilliance of BKS Iyengar’s work. I feel it allows the teachings to seep more deeply into every aspect of daily life. I think being here and experiencing this, is nourishing in a way that defies words. It’s fuel. It feeds me. It connects me to the yogic path, a path that may shed new light. Guruji has always maintained that yoga is ultimately about getting to know your Self, has he not?

I also feel that in the same way that a talented teacher will know at what point their students are ready to receive new teachings, the teachers here reveal new (and/or forgotten) teachings as they see fit. The cumulative knowledge they possess is incredibly vast and although Guruji himself is no longer, his legacy is very much alive. I don’t believe it is possible for this type of transmission to occur in the same way, anywhere else but here. This is still the source, the well from which we can receive the teachings of Iyengar Yoga, plainly, clearly, without unnecessary bias.

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BKS Iyengar (photographed by: ADITYA KAPOOR)

In today’s day an age, sadly, there are several distorted views about yoga and not unrelated, many shamed yoga masters. Once respected yoga teachers who somehow lost their way, be it because of money, lust, or fame. Guruji however, never lost his way. Despite (or in spite of) any critics or fanfare, he stayed true to the practice. This is no small feat. Again, I think the stories, the weaving of the practical with the philosophical that is embodied so seamlessly here at the Institute, offers many lessons for how to pursue the study of Yoga with honesty, integrity, and inquisitiveness.

My month-long immersion has no doubt been rich. But as my time here is nearing an end, I’m particularly cognizant of what’s next. What is my responsibility, having had the privilege of this yoga sadhana? Translating and applying what I’ve learned back to the hustle and bustle of what constitutes ‘real life’, that is ultimately where my hard work begins…

For now though, I’ve got 4 more days and I plan to soak up every last minute of this India experience (and I definitely plan to return for future study!!) 🙂

Namaste.