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I’ve been home for more than 5 months, but I’m finally ready to share with you a little bit about a very special experience I had during my last visit to Pune.  I was there in December and shared in the celebrations for BKS Iyengar’s 95th birthday.  To my shock, I was asked to give a short tribute to Guruji during the celebration.  The celebration took place at the lovely Govinda Gardens and I would estimate that about 1000 people were there to honour Guruji.  Having the opportunity to stand in front of this man who has profoundly impacted my life, with permission to speak directly to him (!), was an incredible and totally surreal experience.  The experience, while surreal, was also very emotional.  Sorting through my thoughts and preparing what to say brought a lot of emotion to the surface, some positive and some more challenging. The experience of standing too, in front of my peers and hundreds of teachers from across the globe, many of whom I admire and respect more than they’ll ever know, and sharing these very personal emotions, well, that too was humbling.

I’d like to leave you with a copy of my tribute to BKS Iyengar. It was both an honour and a privilege to look into this man’s eyes and speak these words directly from the heart.  I’m grateful for the opportunity and know it’s a memory I will always cherish.

steph at 95th bday

December 14th, 2013
Govinda Gardens, Pune, India

To say that I am humbled to have this opportunity is…a ridiculous understatement.

When I was thinking about what to speak about the first thing that came to mind is the immense gratitude I feel towards Guruji for his teachings.  I thought at the very least, I could say ‘thank-you’.  I quickly realized though that ‘thank-you’ would not even come close to capturing the gravity of my emotion and when I think about the intentions behind Guruji’s work, thanks & gratitude actually seems quite superficial.  And even though I know that Guruji has absolutely no interest whatsoever in it, still, I feel compelled to convey my gratitude.  What that says about me, I won’t comment on :).

I also thought that perhaps I could use this opportunity to express the profound ways in which Guruji’s work has transformed my life.  From a chronic and debilitating spinal condition to the hope and inspiration that has come after 10 years of practice, Iyengar Yoga has given me truly, a new lease on life (hence my compulsion for gratitude!).  However, although to me, my transformation has been profound, it is by no means unique.  My story is but one example of many examples of how Iyengar Yoga helps all sorts of people with all sorts of issues.  And when I reflected back on my story I realized that what was actually significant is the fact that each and every one of us, and millions of others across the globe, have such a story.  A story of how BKS Iyengar has touched our lives in exceptionally meaningful ways.  To me, this is incredibly remarkable.

I’m what many of you call a ‘youngster’.  I’m a young yoga student and I’m an even younger Iyengar Yoga teacher.  Isn’t there an expression out there something about being young & stupid?  Well, I’d say that shoe fits.  I stand before you with very little experience and even less knowledge.  Despite this, even *I* can say with confidence that it is my privilege to have fallen into the grace of Iyengar Yoga.

With humility and also with a sense of honour, I will continue to practice, to study, and to teach Iyengar Yoga.  In the hopes that my actions will speak louder than words, perhaps one day these actions can be taken as the ultimate expression of my gratitude.

Dearest Guruji, for all you do, have done, & continue to do – I am beyond words.  Please accept my most heartfelt wishes for you on the occasion of your 95th birthday.