Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reflections on Intensive with Jawahar Bangera - Paksa Pratipaksa

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to travel to Calgary to take part in a teaching intensive and workshop with Jawahar Bangera.  It was my first workshop with this esteemed teacher.  Many times I had tried to work it into my schedule as he has been to Calgary, Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver quite a few times.  I am glad I was finally able to go. 

The intensive began early, but flights from Saskatoon are even earlier!  So, we were the first to arrive at the facility and have a bit of time to freshen up!

It was great to see many familiar faces from attending other workshops, AGM's and teaching assessments and to meet many new people too. Calgary, like so many places I go, has a wonderful yoga community and made us feel very welcome.

A bit of a bio I found about Jawahar:

Jawahar Bangera has been BKS Iyengar's pupil since 1969, and was one of the first pupils from Mumbai tasked by Guruji to teach yoga. Jawahar has accompanied Guruji on countless teaching tours around the world and has conducted a large number of yoga workshops himself in various countries. He is one of the key drivers of the Light on Yoga Research Trust and is one of its trustees. The trust was formed more than 30 years ago and is active in promoting the learning and practice of Yoga in the Iyengar method.

I don't usually take photos at workshops, but I did find a few online with Jawahar. 
The first one below is obviously from many years ago.

Jawahar and B.K.S. Iyengar from many years ago.

Photo I found online from a recent workshop.
I am not going to write every pose we did, etc. but the main take away Jawahar wanted us to get was how to observe ourselves and therefore others better.  It can become quite easy to do a pose and if not getting feedback to continue doing it maybe with wrong alignment when we aren't asking the right questions or know what to look for.  It is not just observing with the eyes, but with the breath, skin, muscles, all the way to the nervous system.
Jawahar was able to weave in the teachings of Patanjali and the yoga sutras on so many levels that it took seemingly simple poses to a new level.  One of the sutras he quoted many times throughout the 5 days was sutra 2.33 and 2.34.
Sutra 2.33 Vitarka badhane pratipaksa bhavanam - Principles which run contrary to yama and niyama are to be countered with the knowledge of discrimination. 
Where pratipaksa means the opposite.  For example the opposite of hate is not love, but non-hate, letting go and releasing so that love with naturally arise.
From Mr. Iyengar's book Light on the Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali, "The sutra stresses that yama and niyama are an integral part of yoga.". 
Mr. Iyengar also explains that, "When the mind is caught up in dubious ideas and actions, right perception is obstructed. The sadhaka has to analyse and investigate these ideas and actions and their opposites; then he learns to balance his thoughts by repeated experimentation."
How are we able to work on this on our mats, and then take it into our daily life?
Mr. Iyengar writes that each asana acts and reacts in its own way, cultivating health on a physical level, helping the organic systems which creates changes to the senses, mind and intellect.  The practitioner must carefully observe and adjust and learn if need paksa or pratipaksa.
"The internal measuring and balancing process which we call paksa pratipaksa is in some respects key to why yoga practice actually works, why it has mechanical power to revolutionize our whole being.  It is why asana is not gymnastics, why pranayama is not deep breathing, why dhyana is not self-induced trance, why yama is not just morality. In asana for example, the pose first brings inner balance and harmony, but in the end it is merely the outer expression of the inner harmony." .

I am sure I will continue to absorb the teachings from this intensive for a long time now as that was really just one facet from the 5 days.
Pamela Nelson


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