IYIMV Blog

IYIMV Blog

Remembering Geeta Iyengar

Geeta Iyengar died aged 74, still working tirelessly to assure the legacy of her father and guru BKS Iyengar. After his death she stepped up to oversee the teaching at RIMYI. Her ill health and failing strength was an obstacle but her spirit soared above it. Family and friends asked her to slow down and save herself for Guruji’s 100th birth anniversary. She promised: “Don’t worry, I will be with you for the centenary, then my work will be done.”

She taught the second half of the 10 day Centenary celebration course with immense energy and insistence making sure every one of the 1,300 participants kept up with her. There followed two days of celebration and she died two days later on 16 December 2018.

We have compiled a selection of interviews with Geeta and tributes from senior teachers.





Geeta on pranayama >





Growing up with yoga >




The benefits of yoga for women >




Uday Bhosale remembers Geetaji >




A personal tribute by Sallie Sullivan >





Geeta Iyengar Birthday Workshop
A General Level Workshop with Judy Smith


Judy has been teaching for over 30 years at IYMV where she teaches General and Remedial classes. This workshop marks Geeta Iyengar’s birthday.

Saturday 7 December 2019
10.15-1.15pm
£36 Members / £39 Non-members


Uday Bhosale remembers Geeta Iyengar

Geetaji at Yoganusanam 2018
Geetaji at Yoganusanam 2018



Uday Bhosale spent fifteen years studying, assisting and teaching at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune with the Iyengar family. In addition to teaching the Childrens, Beginners and Intermediate classes at RIMYI, he assisted in Geeta Iyengar’s medical classes. He recently moved to the UK and teaches regular classes and workshops.


Do you remember your first class with Geetaji?

Oh yes, I do!  I was 19 years old and was used to strong and active work in class because I came from a martial arts background.  Our martial arts training used to be strict and disciplined.  You followed the instruction and dared not do more or less than that.  Seeing my interest and keenness to learn more, my first teacher of both martial arts and yoga, Ali Dashti, suggested I should make the effort and go to Geetaji’s class.

Hence I went to the evening classes with her.  The control and command she had over the entire class was so inspiring for me.  What I remember particularly in that first class was the clarity of her instructions.  Clear, precise wording along with an impactful voice pinpointing to the exact parts of the body we must work on and where we were dull.  It felt like she was reading me and talking to me individually.  It felt like I was getting private tuition in a crowded hall.  Only later I came to know that it is nothing new, almost everyone had a similar experience in her classes.  Ha ha!

Were you scared of her?

Scared?  Not really, but there is something in my mother tongue which can be roughly translated as: “to respectfully fear someone”.

Do you remember any amusing incident in her classes?

People generally recall her strictness, but she definitely had a fun side too.  She used to crack jokes, at times mimic and mock sometimes.  I remember an incident that happened during my early days in her class.  In my martial arts background, we were trained to be attentive and quick-respond to instructions as fast as possible.  On that day she was teaching “jumpings”, my favourite back then!  She was explaining something while we were in Tadasana.  She used to call the name of the pose first and then mention what she wanted us to work on and then we would do it.  So in her strong voice she announced the next pose we were going to do: “Chaturanga Dandasana!”  Her voice was so strong and commanding that in a flash I was on the floor and in the pose.  And then I looked around wondering why I was the first in the pose!  Guess what?  Of course I was the first as I was the only one to go into the pose.  Everyone else was still standing in Tadasana in anticipation of her further instructions.  So I jumped back to join them, hoping she had missed my foolish mistake.  But there she stood almost laughing and said aloud: “That is only the front brain working; he is not using the rest of it.”

When you think of Geetaji now what is the first thing you see in your head?

Her smile and her eyes for sure.

Which of her character traits spring to mind?

It’s more of her caring side.  I’ve always felt a motherly love from her and how she cared for everyone.  Definitely it was not pampering.  Her instructions and guidance to students as well as patients in therapy classes made everyone easily feel her caring nature behind the strictness.  Even in her scolding there was a caring approach.  That compassion makes me miss her very much.

You were at all Yoganusasanam intensive courses in Pune.  Do have any specific memory of being in a pose and being shown on?

Yes!  There were many participants who remember this.  I think it happened in 2014 – the year Guruji passed away.  I was on the stage with one of my colleagues.  It was a pranayama session.  We were anticipating the invocation to start so we sat in our position upright ready to chant. Geetaji started to explain something, it went on further, a bit deeper and then on to a few more things.

It was common before a class for Geetaji to give an introduction but this one went on and on and on.  It was more than one hour!  I had taken my position and knew that the video cameras were focused on the stage and us.  Sitting next to her feet while she was describing every detail, how could I dare slip into a dull, slouching pose?  I was afraid of causing a distraction if I would fidget around to change my pose.  So I struggled but sat straight all that time barely moving.  My legs and back were getting so tired but I somehow kept going.  Eventually we chanted the invocation.  Thankfully we were made to lie down in a supine posture after that!

Uday Bhosale on stage with Geetaji at Yoganusanam 2018

Who asked you to teach the children’s class, Geeta or Guruji?

She asked me to start assisting and then later I was teaching it.  She would frequently come to the regular Sunday morning classes for children.  Often Geetaji would check on us teachers and tell us how to teach.  She would crack jokes, tease us teachers and have fun with us. 

Can you describe Geetaji’s love for children? Both on her 70th birthday at Yoganusasanam 2014 and in 2018 she wanted the children’s class to be there to perform.

Teaching children was always something close to her heart as Guruji had asked her to teach in schools when she began teaching.  She was always keen to teach younger generations.  During both these events, she was not happy that the children would miss their Sunday morning class at the Institute because their teachers were busy at the Yoganusasanam event.  So she wanted the children to be there with us.  She was also keen for others to have a glimpse of how to teach children and understand the difference in approach, compared to the general classes that we mostly train for.

With children, you have to inspire them with your performance on stage.  You have to do more, move faster, jump higher to keep their attention.  Otherwise they easily lose their focus.  In 2018, while we were jumping from Tadasana to Uttitha Hasta Padasana, she commanded in her loud and strong voice to jump higher and wider.  I think I managed to jump higher than ever before!

Uday Bhosale jumping on stage with Geetaji at Yoganusasanam 2018
Yoganusasanam 2018 BKS Iyengar's Cententary

Did you see that she was tired during the intensives, especially after Guruji’s death in 2014 and the last one in 2018 before she passed away?

She had various health conditions all her life from childhood.  But the way she practised and managed her conditions as well as all her other commitments was phenomenal.  The way she taught her classes and the amount of energy she put into them was amazing!  Especially during her later years, the way she managed everything despite her frailty was inspiring and humbling.  After Guruji’s death she was emotionally very low and it obviously made her condition worse.  But she slowly started to regain strength.  We could see her looking so weak but when she went on the platform she was a different person.  Once she was on stage she would talk and command even though sometimes her voice would go and she would cough.  She would never hold back when she was teaching.  She would give it her all.

What does it mean to you that she is not with us anymore?

Definitely I miss her!  When Guruji passed away, everyone was sad but we still had his children with us.  In a way I felt it helped to soften the blow.  But now Geetaji is not there anymore.  Of course we have Prashantji, but her motherly love, her caring touch, her control, her genius we will miss.  It is a big loss.  Saying that, as students and teachers we have the responsibility to continue our practice and to continue to share the great work the Iyengar family have dedicated themselves to.  We should continue to contribute and share what we have learnt in our own individual capacity.  We also need to stay together and grow further!

This article was first published in Dipika, the Iyengar Yoga Maida Vale Journal, in July 2019.

Uday Bhosale teaching at Maida Vale
Uday teaching at Maida Vale

Geeta Iyengar on yoga for women >

Geeta Iyengar on Pranayama >

Geeta Iyengar on Yoga for Women

Geeta Iyengar as a young woman

Mark Tully (former BBC’s India correspondent) visited Pune in 1999. The result of this visit was a memorable interview with BKS Iyengar and the BBC Radio 4 production “Head to Toe. The BBC producer, Vanessa Harrison, has kindly given some of the interview transcripts to Dipika. This is a section of the interview with Geeta Iyengar who published her yoga book for women, “Yoga: A Gem for Women”, in 1983.

Continue reading →

Teaching Yoga to Children : A workshop for teachers and teacher trainees

Uday Bhosale and Korinna Pilafidis-Williams have extensive experience of teaching Iyengar yoga to children. In this workshop they will share their approaches to making classes engaging, fun and safe for young students. 

Friday 27 September
3.00-5.00pm
Members £30 / Non-member £36

This workshop is for qualified Iyengar yoga teachers and trainees.

Uday Bhosale spent fifteen years studying, assisting and teaching at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune with the Iyengar family. He taught the Childrens, Beginners and Intermediate classes at RIMYI and assisted in Geeta Iyengar’s medical classes.

Korinna Pilafidis-Williams has been practising Iyengar yoga since 1983 and started teaching at IYMV in 1995. She is part of the remedial and teacher training teams at IYMV.  As well as teaching adults, she has been teaching children and teenagers for nearly 25 years and teaches one of the longest running children’s classes in the country.

IYIMV Outreach Programme – Open for applications

Are you, or do you know an Iyengar yoga teacher who would like to teach classes to vulnerable or disadvantaged adults?

IYMV has established an outreach programme to bring Iyengar yoga to those who might not have access to regular yoga classes. We are inviting teachers to suggest a London based organisation to work with such as a community project, women’s refuge or centre, prison, special needs school or recovery project that does not already have funding.

Successful applicants will receive funding to teach a weekly class at their proposed organisation for an initial period of 6 months.

Continue reading →

Iyengar yoga classes for MS and neurological conditions


Following the success of our workshops with Garth McLean we have launched a regular class for students with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions. The classes are based on the teachings of BKS Iyengar with specific input from Garth McLean.


12 September to 17 October (6 sessions)
Thursdays
12.00-1.30 pm
Members £69 / Non-members £84

**Please note there will be no class on 24 October.**

31 October to 12 December (7 sessions)
Thursdays
12.00-1.30pm
Members £69 / Non-members £84


Places are by application only and fees are paid half-termly in advance. 

Come to class in t-shirt & leggings or shorts so that the teachers can observe how your body is working.


Classes are led by Korinna Pilafidis-Williams with assistance from other teachers. Korinna has been practising Iyengar yoga since 1983 and started teaching at IYMV in 1995. She is a Junior Intermediate teacher and is part of the remedial and teacher training teams at IYMV.  


Please apply by completing the form below and emailing to office@iyi.org.uk

APPLICATION FORM >

Moving up from Beginners to General level

 

BKS Iyengar and his daughter, Geeta, were always clear about the stages of progression of practice and how poses link with each other like building blocks. Each syllabus has a clear list of poses which create the basis of practice at whatever stage you are at.

Continue reading →

Geeta Iyengar On Pranayama

In the May 2002 issue of Dipika, the Iyengar Yoga Maida Vale journal, we published an intervew with Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar on the subject of pranayama by Lois Steinberg. Many thanks to Lois for allowing us us to share it here.   Continue reading →

Interview with Geeta Iyengar – 1999

Dr. Geeta Iyengar passed away on Sunday 16th December at age 74. She made a profound contribution to  the yoga community around the world with her dedication to sharing the teachings of her father and guru, BKS Iyengar. Her seminal work ‘Yoga – A Gem for Women’ has had an enduring influence on yoga techniques for women. Reportedly when asked about living in her father’s shadow she replied, “It was not his shadow, it was his light.”

In 1999 Mark Tully, the BBC’s India Correspondent from 1964-1994, visited Pune. The result of this visit was a memorable interview with BKS Iyengar for the BBC Radio 4 production: Head to Toe. BBC producer, Vanessa Harrison, has kindly shared the interview transcripts. This is a section of the interview Mark held with  Geeta.  Continue reading →

BKS Iyengar’s Demonstration at the Barbican in London, 1984

 

21 May, 1984 was a momentous occasion in the history of Iyengar yoga and for the Iyengar Yoga studios in Maida Vale. BKS Iyengar gave a talk and demonstration before an audience of 2,000 at the Barbican Centre in London. He talked about Patanjali and the eight limbs of yoga and he gave a demonstration of pranayama and asanas. The occasion also included a performance by some of his close students that had been rehearsed at Maida Vale. Guruji generously donated the entire income from the evening to the Maida Vale building fund. 

One of his students who took part was our Senior teacher, Penny Chaplin. Here she remembers this special evening.

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How do you feel after an Iyengar yoga class?

You may have asked yourself why you keep returning to your yoga class. When we start yoga most of us don’t really know what to expect and the first class may come as a bit of a shock. Maybe we expect to be sitting cross-legged or tied up in knots or even standing on our head, but in the Iyengar yoga method you are put through rigorous standing poses in the very first class.  The hamstrings sing, the arms tire from holding them up for so long and our concentration is demanded at every moment.  Continue reading →

Six Part Yoga Therapy Training Course for Teachers with Stephanie Quirk

Stephanie Quirk has taught many six-part training workshops on therapeutics. She regularly shares her knowledge and expertise with Iyengar yoga teachers around the world.

We have been informed by Stephanie that, for personal reasons, she will not be travelling to Europe during 2019. Consequently, the courses planned for October and November 2019 will not now take place.

For those teachers who attended in 2017 and/or 2018, we will be sending further information as soon as it becomes available.

There are currently no further vacancies on this course.

Continue reading →

IYIMV Yoga Outreach Programme – A teacher’s story

 

As a charity, one of Iyengar Maida Vale’s objectives is to support the uptake of Iyengar yoga inside and outside of our Maida Vale site. In 2017 the IYIMV trustees launched a pilot outreach programme to help subsidise Iyengar yoga classes for vulnerable and disadvantaged adults. Iyengar yoga teachers were invited to apply for a six month grant to help run classes in the community providing access to people who may not otherwise be able to attend classes. Kristyan Robinson qualified as an Iyengar teacher after doing teacher training with Steve Richardson and Sallie Sullivan at IYIMV and was one of the first teachers to run a class on the scheme. She shares her experience of teaching at the West Hampstead Women’s Centre here.

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Iyengar Yoga Sequence for Colds

During the winter months, when the immune system is compromised, we recommend a restorative and recuperative practice to do at home. Coming to class with an infectious cold will make you feel worse as strong poses like standing poses, backbends and twists can increase your symptoms. It is the perfect time to practise supported supine poses and inversions at home.

We suggest the following sequence specifically provided by BKS Iyengar in The Path to Holistic Health. We hope you will feel inspired to try a self-practice at home, even if you are not ill, to support your immune system. If you have a cold, try it. It works! Continue reading →

Teaching therapeutic yoga by Stephanie Quirk

 

Stephanie Quirk spent over twenty years living in Pune immersing herself in the teaching and work of BKS Iyengar and his family. She now shares her knowledge with Iyengar teachers across the world running specialised training courses with a particular emphasis on therapeutic yoga – the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. We are delighted to host Stephanie at IYIMV.   Continue reading →

Pick up your copy of the IYIMV Journal – Dipika

The latest edition of Dipika, number 49, is now available at reception. It is free to all of our members so don’t forget to pick up your copy.

We’re sure you’ll agree that Dipika editor Korinna Pilafidis-Williams has done another fantastic job with the latest issue. The theme of home or ‘self-practice’ is covered from several angles including a fascinating personal account on the evolution of practice by senior teacher Pixie Lillas. Plus find an extract of Mark Tully’s insightful interview with Geeta Iyengar.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to design, content and production of Dipika!

 

 

Volunteers for Introductory Assessments 2017

This year’s Introductory assessments will take place on 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 June at IYI Maida Vale.

We need volunteers to be students for the teaching part of the assessments. Each assessment should have 7 – 8 volunteers.

Volunteers should have at least a year’s attendance at classes and already be performing Sirsasana and Sarvangasana. They should be willing to be helped up into Sirsasana (head balance) at the wall and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), and should not be remedial students or injured – stiffness is fine but no injuries.

Volunteers will need to be on their mats ready to start at 1.45pm (Saturdays) or 2.15 (Sundays), and the session should finish by 5.00 or 5.30pm respectively. Teachers may not act as volunteers but we can take Introductory Level 1 trainees and trainees just starting their second year of training.  However trainees should not volunteer for a session in which candidates from their own course are being assessed.

 

Contact: office@iyi.org.uk or call 020 7624 3080 to volunteer.

 

 

NEW! One hour Sunday morning beginners class

Sundays from 28 May – 23 July
9.00-10.00 am

This new shorter class is ideal for complete beginners, students who have completed the Introduction to Iyengar Yoga Course and any practitioner in their first three years of practice. It will be a fast-paced class for students who like to practise and still have the whole of  Sunday free! Continue reading →

Moving up from Beginners to General level Iyengar yoga class

Barbara Norvell has been teaching Iyengar yoga since 1999. Here she shares her thoughts on how to decide when to move up from a Beginners Level class to General Level. At IYMV we ask that students go to Beginners classes regularly for two years before moving up to a General class. Some students are keen to move up quickly while for others the prospect can be a little daunting. We hope this will help you decide when the right time is for you. Continue reading →

Wednesday 7am class – A student’s perspective

‘Wednesday morning at seven o’clock as the day begins …’  (with apologies to The Beatles)

Tony Morris has been a member of IYIMV since 2000 and served as a trustee of the Institute between 2002-2005. He is a regular at Amparo Rodriguez’s Wednesday class. Here he explains why he resists hitting the snooze button and takes out his yoga mat instead.  Continue reading →

2 April – Tribute to Silvia Prescott (1922-2016)

 

On 2 April we will celebrate Silvia Prescott’s contribution to Iyengar yoga and to the Iyengar Yoga Institute Maida Vale. Silvia was a highly respected teacher who will always be remembered by the many people who were fortunate to have attended her classes.  Continue reading →

An Interview with Uday Bhosale

uday_iyimv

Uday Bhosale spent fifteen years studying, assisting and teaching at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune with the Iyengar family. In addition to teaching the Childrens, Beginners and Intermediate classes at RIMYI, he assisted in Geeta Iyengar’s medical classes. He recently moved to the UK and teaches regular classes and workshops.

Continue reading →

Sunday Intermediate pop-up class

pop-up_teachers

This winter we are offering a series of Sunday afternoon Intermediate classes. These are all drop-in classes so no need to book in advance. Schedule them in to your weekend and keep your practice on point over the chilly months. Continue reading →

Scoliosis and Iyengar Yoga

Naomi Gorta-Slight shares her experience of using a programme of remedial Iyengar yoga during adolescence to reduce her scoliosis and avoid surgery. 

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine to one side, with the spine bending either to the left or to the right.  The skeleton of Richard III showed that the king had a severe degree of scoliosis.  Richard would have benefited from hanging off the ropes at the Institute as part of a royal remedial programme.   Continue reading →

RADIO 4 – ON AIR THIS WEEK! The Secret History of Yoga

This Friday 17 June at 11.00am Radio 4 is airing a programme on The Secret History of Yoga. It promises to be a fascinating listen and features leading academics in the field of yoga history including Dr Suzanne Newcombe.

If you can’t listen live just click on the image below to listen on iPlayer. Continue reading →

Archive images – BKS Iyengar at Maida Vale opening, May 1994

If you can see past the breeze blocks and timber you may recognise the room below as our much-loved Studio 1. It was 14th May, 1994 and the official celebration of our new, purpose-built studios, ten years after the inauguration of the Institute at the Maida Vale site. The old building, which had served as a makeshift home for Iyengar yoga in London, was taken down and replaced by the unique and beautiful Institute we enjoy today. Continue reading →

Yehudi Menuhin and BKS Iyengar’s transformative friendship

Rarely has there been a more unusual friendship than that between Jewish-American virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin and BKS Iyengar. When they first met, Menuhin was 36 years old and had developed from a child prodigy in his native New York to an internationally recognised musical talent. BKS Iyengar was 34 and, after a gruelling apprecticeship with his brother-in-law and guru Sri Tirumalai Krishnamarharya in Mysore, had established himself as a highly respected teacher in Pune but was yet to travel outside of India. Both masters in their chosen fields, their enduring 50 year friendship was transformative for each of them.  Continue reading →

Yoga for Teens – Still Places available after half term!

Mondays 5.00pm – 5.55pm

with Harshini Wikramanayake

22 February – 21 March

We have a few places available for the second half term of our course for teens. These fun, active classes are tailored specifically for ages fourteen and above.

To reserve a place email office@iyi.org.uk or or call  us on 020 7624 3080

Assessments update – Congratulations to our teachers!

BKS Iyengar observed that ‘a good teacher helps you explore to the maximum’ and this description will ring true to anyone who has found themselves leaving a class feeling inspired and restored. It is through dedication to their own development that Iyengar yoga teachers are able to guide their students courageously and safely.

We are lucky to have an exceptional group of teachers at Maida Vale and we’re proud to announce that Marco Cannavo, Ofra Graham, Barbara Norvell and Kate Rathod have all recently passed senior assessments.

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Taking an Iyengar yoga assessment

Ainhoa Acosta has been a student at Maida Vale for many years and recently passed her Introductory Level 2 Iyengar yoga teaching assessment. Well done Ainhoa! She tells us about her experience of taking Iyengar yoga assessment.

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How Yoga Transformed Me by BKS Iyengar

In this personal article, from a booklet published in January 1975 to commemorate the opening of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, BKS Iyengar describes the extraordinary highs and lows of his yoga practice. It is reproduced here from a selection of typewritten manuscripts held in the Iyengar Yoga Institute Maida Vale archives. 

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Christophe Singh writes about his yogic journey

I have congenital right-sided hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. Specifically, my right hand and foot are completely paralysed with limited movement in my right shoulder, arm and leg. Coping with pain from neuromuscular spasticity is one of the most debilitating facets of my disability in daily life. Various physiotherapy treatments since childhood have been ineffective and very painful with little relief.  Continue reading →

Are you ready to move up from General Level classes to Intermediate?

It can be hard to tell when you are ready to move up a level from General classes to Intermediate. Our guidelines at Maida Vale are that you need two years of experience for General and four years for Intermediate classes. But, we know it can be daunting to think you might be expected to perform perfect, advanced postures and it can feel safer to stick with your regular class. So, if you’ve been considering moving up this quick guide will help you decide whether now is the right time for you.

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Alaric Newcombe on BKS Iyengar’s ‘Asanas for Emotional Stability’

Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher and trainer, Alaric Newcombe, has taught at Maida Vale since 1991. He holds an annual retreat for teachers, trainees and experienced practitioners. The daily routine includes an hour and a half of pranayama, a three hour asana class and two to three hours of self practice, overseen by Alaric, where students work though the Asanas for Emotional Stability from BKS Iyengar’s book Light On Life.

The Asanas for Emotional Stability are a sequence of fifteen supported asana presented with detailed instructions and illustrations on use of props and timings. Here Alaric shares his thoughts about teaching this sequence to his students and trainees.

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Iyengar Yoga and the Menopause

Judi Sweeting is a Senior Iyengar yoga teacher and runs the Cotswold Iyengar Yoga Centre in Cirencester.  Here she recounts her experience of the menopause followed by the accounts of two other longstanding practitioners. These stories show how the experience of menopause varies from woman to woman and how Iyengar yoga played an important part during this important transition in their lives.

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BKS Iyengar on the eight limbs of yoga – November 1997

This talk was given by Mr BKS Iyengar on Saturday 15th November, 1997 at the official opening of the new Iyengar Yoga Institute building at Maida Vale. Here he expresses his hopes for the first London Institute and talks through the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Continue reading →