Addiction, Recovery and Yoga from Lindsey Clennell on Vimeo.

Addiction, Recovery and Yoga is a feature documentary on how people have used yoga as part of their journey in recovery programs from serious addiction problems to a new life of well-being and emotional stability. The people in the video talk about how yoga has helped them to recover from their addictions, find stability and progress in their lives. Father Joe Pereira, a longtime Iyengar yoga practitioner and teacher also appears in this video. You can watch the full documentary for free!

Iyengar Insight: Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self-realization.


happy 91st birthday to bks iyengar

by Sheila on December 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Guruji!
Check out this fascinating interview with the 91 year old yoga guru: BKS Iyengar.

Iyengar Insight: All may be able to do yoga but only one million is fit to be called a Yogi.


pay what you can yoga class

by Sheila on November 5, 2009

Another term has started at the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre! At this time of year, practicing yoga is so important because it strengthens the immune systems which can help us avoid catching a cold or the dreaded swine flu. As the days get shorter and darker, I find that practicing yoga improves my mood and keeps the winter blues at bay, especially if you practice some simple chest opening asanas throughout the day. As we head towards the holiday season, many of us start to look at our finances and this year’s economy has hit many people hard. I was happily surprised to see that the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre is offering a “Pay What You Can” yoga class to allow people of all incomes to attend classes.  Iyengar yoga classes can be more expensive than other yoga styles because all Iyengar yoga teachers have a minimum of three years teacher’s training and the training usually starts after 3-5 years of yoga practice. After I attended my first  Iyengar yoga class, I knew that what the non-profit centre was charging for a yoga class was a real bargain.  I encourage you to attend Charles’ class and find out for yourself.

Iyengar Insight: Unless people learn to differentiate between the essentials and the non-essentials, peace will always elude them.


international non-violence (ahimsa) day

by Sheila on October 2, 2009

Today, October 2nd, is International Non-violence Day as declared by the UN in commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s practice of non-violence to create political change. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, non-violence or ahimsa is the first yama and was one of the first discussions at a yoga philosophy class that I attended earlier this year with Shirley Daventry French. It is easy to think that we are non-violent because we do not brawl with people or throw plates in anger. Shirley taught me that Patanjali’s Sutra means non-violence in thought and word, in addition to non-violence in deed. This can be a much more difficult practice when we think about the judgements we may have passed and snide comments to escape our lips.

I will try and take today to contemplate Sutra II.35: “When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.”

Guruji in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains the sutra on ahimsa, “Peace in words, thoughts and deeds, whether awake or dreaming, is a sign of goodwill and love to all.” I think it is interesting that the notion of nonviolent dreams are raised suggesting that a person’s character is reflected in their dreams. Guruji’s interpretation goes even further to say that not only will a person benefit personally from practicing non-violence but benefit other people, “In the vicinity of a yogi, men and animals who are otherwise violent and antipathetic towards each other, abandon their hostility and exhibit friendliness and mutual tolerance.” Perhaps this was why Gandhi’s non-violent movement motivated so many of the people of India.

Iyengar Insight: Before peace between the nations, we have to find peace inside that small nation, which is our being.


back to school – yoga school that is

by Sheila on September 7, 2009

I am super excited as the long weekend draws to a close because it means that the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre’s new term is about to begin. Check out the classes for September & October; you will see that there are a number of new classes including Yoga for Men, Family Yoga and a class that is well suited to Friday afternoons – Restorative Yoga.  If you are lucky enough to have time on Wednesday afternoons to attend the Philosophy of Yoga with Shirley Daventry French, you need to sign up and take the class. I highly recommend it and only wish it was offered in the evenings so I could go. Yes, I am attached to that class. 

Another exciting offering this fall, is the Yoga Enrichment Program, which involves taking a Level 2, Level 2/3, or Level 3 class of your choice in both the September/October and November/December terms.  Then, add the Sutra workshop, one of the Saturday Series workshops, the Philosophy class, and one of the Pranayama classes. It is a really good deal and I should probably sign up for this asap. 

There is a great deal on offer at the Victoria Iyengar Yoga Centre, including the most experienced yoga teachers in the city. Yoga is a wonderful way to restore your body from summer distractions (parties, weddings and the Guinness factory) whilst preparing your immune system from the winter. Hope to see you in class!

Iyengar Insight: Health is the delicate balance in the harmony of the body, mind and spirit where physical disabilities and mental distractions have vanished.


B.K.S Iyengar At 90 – Interview in Parabola

by Sheila on September 7, 2009

parabolaCheck out the Fall 2009 issue of Parabola magazine for an inspiring interview with Guruji called His Path to Realization. Annie Schliffer interviewed Guruji in February, 2009  after studying at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute in Pune, India. Annie starts her article with a summary of B.K.S Iyengar’s life and how she first met him,  ”As I entered the Institute, the very first person whom I saw was Mr. Iyengar. Without hesitation and full of gratitude, I bowed at his feet. Here was the man whose system of yoga had changed my life.”

Guruji answers questions, including:
“How do you see the path of Yoga – your path?
Can anyone start Yoga? 
At ninety years old you are still practicing Yoga everyday, doing back bends, hand stands etc. I wonder if you can speak a little about your Yoga practice.”

This interview gives us some insight into Guruji’s approach to  life and yoga and it becomes clear how this man has affected so many lives around the world. He truly is an elder that we should trust and learn from.

Iyengar Insight: Yoga is one that guides a person on a true path.


how to do yoga on vacation

by Sheila on June 30, 2009

As I prepare for a vacation to Europe for a few weeks, I am wondering how to maintain a regular yoga practice. Vacations take us away from our daily schedules and stresses; surely practicing yoga should be easier when on holiday. I have found that this is not always the case because there can be a myriad of distractions, especially when visiting family I haven’t seen in years. The midnight chats tend to become longer and better as the holiday goes on. Still, for this vacation I would like not to lose my regular practice, so I have come up with a plan.

 I will be travelling around alot and my schedule will vary from day to day and place to place. I need something that is consistent: my yoga mat and my asana practice. I will come up with or select an asana practice and bring my mat with me. 

Iyengar Insight: We can rise above our limitation, only once we recognize them.


Part 2 of the interview where Guruji continues to talk about his practice. I love his humour!

Iyengar Insight: My aim in life is to share this knowledge. I don’t want the world to suffer.


Here is the first part of a wonderful interview with Guruji.  He talks bout his yoga journey and how he was compelled to share yoga with the world. I like that BKS Iyengar is interviewed in the  RIMYI yoga studio in Pune, I really hope to go there to study one day. Guruji used to suffer from blackouts and  in this video he talks about how backbends helped to cure him and this led to him a more intelligent practice of the effects of the asanas. BKS Iyengar also talks about how he helped change Yehudi Menuhin’s yoga practice to become more meaningful. Enjoy!

Iyengar Insight: Yoga gave me health and it gave me intelligence. How can I stop it?


on practice & detachment [sutra 1.12]

by Sheila on June 8, 2009

windowssI was lucky enough to spend my weekend taking an Iyengar yoga retreat led by Shirley Daventry French  at the Salt Spring Centre for Yoga. As well as teaching us techniques to go further in poses, Shirley discussed the concepts of abhyasa (repeated practice) and vairagya (renunciation, detachment, non-identification) as the key to finding stillness. Most Iyengar yoga students are very familiar with Patanjali’s sutra 1.2: citta vritti nirodhah (Yoga is the cessation of fluctuation of consciousness.) At the Easter workshop with Birjoo Mehta, he referred to this sutra as the mission statement of yoga.  Patanjali wrote in sutra 1.12: abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan-nirodhah which translates to “Stillness develops through practice and renunciation.” In teaching us this sutra, Shirley was giving us the method or strategy to achieve the mission statement. 

After our retreat, I visited my favourite Salt Spring island bookstore and picked a new guide to Patanjali’s sutras by Ravi Ravindra, Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University. His guide to sutra 1.12 reinforced the lessons I had learned over the weekend.
Ravi writes, ” Spiritual practice requires and creates a movement contrary to the usual tendencies of the mind. We need to make efforts to be present, to let go of distractions and we need to be willing to search for a stronger and steadier attention again and again. Any worthwhile goal requires undertaking efforts, seeing what is required, and actively engaging with the process.”
One of the many great advantages of being at a yoga retreat is that you are forced to practice renunciation - there are no work/home distractions, there is no cellphone signal or internet connection ( I admit I did miss the internet for a few minutes).  The retreat allows you to focus on what is at hand, whether it be the asana you are trying to get into or maintain, pranayama practice or meditation. 

Iyengar Insight: By restoring the body, yoga frees the mind from the negative feelings caused by the fast pace of modern life.