My Association with Guruji:
(2) The Indian Attitude: Two years ago when I was learning about Guruji’s life, I realized that he is more popular abroad in the West than at home. I have gone through many TV interviews, journals, Videos and book reviews of Guruji and found that he is much admired and loved in the West; even though he visited them only couple of times during his lifetime. My opinion changed into confirmation when I saw the visitors who have come here to wish Guruji on the eve of Guru Poornima was outnumbered by the Western students. It took me not much time to realize why Guruji is much loved in the west than at home. It is because of the Indian attitude. The very next morning, after attending Guru Prashant Iyengar’s class I was standing at the corridor along with one of my friend Maheshji. We came across a student studying yoga at the Institute for the last one year. We introduced ourselves and had some chat regarding the teaching faculty and quality of yoga education provided in the institute. He later asked us, “Where do you come from and what for?” We replied that we visited to greet and seek blessings of Guruji on the occasion of Guru Poornima. The guy innocently said, ‘Oh! I see! By the way when is the Guru Poornima?’ Maheshji and I looked at each other; smiled and replied that was over yesterday pointing at the notice board in front. The guy then scratched his head in disbelief and left over. It is not that student wasn't told about the occasion or he was totally unaware of the occasion. It is the very famous Indian attitude in that student made him ignorant. Hundreds of students of foreign origin have come across miles crossing oceans to greet Guruji on the occasion of Guru Poornima; on the other hand we are unaware of the occasion. We always cry for the lost diamond of Kohinoor; where as we forget that we have a diamond worthier than Kohinoor in the form of BKS Iyengar.
It was not an easy task to try practicing yoga without Guruji and taking consideration of my age and health condition. Initially I was hesitant to begin the practice as everyone suggested me not to try practicing yogasanas by reading a book. When I was in dilemma for a guru, I came across a TV interview of Guruji speaking on the subject. The reporter asked Guruji, ‘Is it safe to learn asanas by merely reading a book?’ Guruji with his usual smile replied, ‘A good book is far better than a bad teacher and my book is a best seller across the world.’ These words vibrated my entire body, mind and the soul and inspired me to get on with the practice. I still remember the first day of my practice. I began my practice on an auspicious occasion of Guruji’s birth day on 14th of December 2009. I offered formal prayers to the photograph of Guruji and began my practice connecting myself to Guruji esoterically as Ekalavya did in Mahabharata connecting himself to Guru Dronacharya.
I began to practice asanas seriously for 2-3 hours a day in the morning without a miss. Initially it was difficult, painful and straining due to my weak, rigid body. Over sweating and breathlessness were other two issues that troubled me during my practice due to low lungs capacity and rigidity. Whenever I found difficult to learn an asana I viewed the videos and postures of Guruji, Patricia Walden, Rodney Yee, John Schumacher, Sharath, Bikram Choudhury and many other famous Yogis online. Yoga blogs online such as Bandha Yoga and Yoga Journal in particular helped me a lot in my practice of Yoga. How can I forget Ursula Wenzel, a German Yogini and friend of mine on facebook and her blog?
Highlights of Guru Poornima:
The hall was filled with visitors as the time progressed. A hush of silence was observed the moment Guruji entered the convention hall. He quietly entered and took up the corner seat at the entrance. I silently got up from my seat and walked up to Guruji and sought his blessings by touching the feet.
After candle lighting ceremony and inaugural speech by some of the students, Guruji was welcomed to the dais and requested to accept the asan and speak on the occasion.
Then all of us offered Prayer to the Great Patanjali – the Father of Yoga. Later Guruji was garlanded and honored by some of his oldest disciples. Couple of books and CD’s including the autobiography of Guruji was launched on the occasion.
Guruji was then requested to speak on the occasion. Guruji’s talk on the occasion was more like a class on Yoga rather a speech. He tried to reply the question put on by one of his students regarding their degree of progress in Yoga. Guruji explained how one needs to apply his mind to the subtlest of the subtle level while practicing yoga by demonstrating on a student of his.After ending the convention Guruji settled on a chair outside the hall. Each one of us walked out in a row and sought his blessings. Guruji received and responded to one and all politely and patiently. Our Guruji Smt. Zarna Mohan introduced our group one by one to Guruji BKS Iyengar, where I got an opportunity to have a photograph and an autograph on one of my favorite books ‘Light on Yoga’, written by Guruji. We then walked back to our hotel room with pleasant memories.
Next morning we went back to the institute at around , where we got an opportunity to attend and watch the proceedings of Guru Prashant Iyengar’s Yoga class. It was quite a unique experience to watch the great Master teaching Yoga. There were around 40 students in the class which included our teacher also. They were divided into 4 batches of 10, each batch doing different set of asanas. One batch was doing Bharadwajasana, one batch was doing Trikonasana, one batch was stretching on the ropes mounted on the wall and another batch was doing Rope Sirshasana etc. Then each and every batch was shuffling and changing the asana after remaining in the posture for some time. Guru Prashantji was moving all round observing, explaining and correcting the postures. The class was a world of learning experience for us as it contained the students of all age groups and students with various health problems.
After Prashantji’s class we walked out and bought few books and props from the office. In the mean time Guruji BKS Iyengar arrived at the office and took his seat in a corner. Our madam reintroduced us to Guruji and said, you can ask any questions if you have to Guruji. I walked forward with lots of questions in mind but as soon I got closer and stood before him, my mind was blank. He then looked up to me and raised his eyebrows asking what? I was not sure what to say, so asked for a photograph with slight hesitation. Guruji was actually getting ready for the class and therefore he was not in a mood to give a photograph. On my insistence, he agreed to give only one snap as he had no time to give individual photographs. We immediately gathered in a group and had a memorable and cherishing picture of life time with Guruji. We thanked him for his kind gesture and walked out with happy faces.
We then travelled around for local site seeing and had great time under the water
With this I end this blog here. I hope you enjoyed reading this update. Keep watching the space for more updates on Wonders of Yog.