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Ascent Yoga Intensive helps to ignite the Light

March 21, 2008 by Lightwaves
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geeta_gem.jpgAs part of our 45th anniversary we will be hosting the largest ascent magazine yoga intensive to date and it promises to be a busy time. This year’s intensive will bring over 100 people to study and learn with one of yoga’s foremost female teachers, Geeta Iyengar.

Swami Saradananda has been busily organizing for this event. This is a fitting focus for his service because of his connection to the Iyengar community. He writes:

geeta_swsa.jpg“The Victoria Yoga Centre became my community of friends as I re-entered the world of Yoga in 1979. After five years focused exclusively on my management job for the Government and entering a painful divorce, re-entry began with a dream workshop at the Ashram with Swami Radha. Because there was no Radha Centre in Victoria at that time, Swami Radha advised that I connect with her students who had started the Victoria Yoga Centre. One of these students was Shirley French.”

“I appreciated the support from both communities. Iyengar Yoga was taught at the Ashram in those years by several of Swami Radha’s experienced students who she had encouraged to study in India with Mr. Iyengar.”

“The Victoria Yoga Centre was actively training new teachers, inviting prominent Iyengar teachers from the US and Europe. We were all very dedicated to improving our understanding of this new-to-us approach to Yoga. We held a little weekly Satsang at the YM/YWCA, where our Yoga classes were held, and published the Yoga Centre of Victoria Newsletter.”

geeta_swr_bks.jpg“In 1982, several of us were fortunate to study in India with B.K.S. Iyengar and his son and daughter, Prashant and Geeta. A number of Swami Radha’s students studied at his Institute in Pune that year, and a few stayed with Indira Devi at her Ashram nearby. Earlier that year, Swami Radha had spent a few days visiting Indira Devi, and with B.K.S. Iyengar down the same street in Pune, later incorporating his aphorisms in her book Hatha Yoga the Hidden Language.”

“Shirley and Derek French and the Victoria Yoga Centre group were wonderful supports during those years. Shirley and Derek allowed me to stay in their home before and after the Yoga Teacher’s Course in 1982, providing a bridge to my time with Swami Radha in the Victoria Radha House when we moved there in 1984.”

images.jpegShirley French, long time student and disciple of B.K.S. Iyengar and past president of the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria will be attending the Ascent Intensive. Shirley first met Swami Radha who had been asked to speak at the Victoria YM-YMCA where Shirley was taking yoga classes.

Writing in the March-April Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria Newsletter, she says:

“When Swami Radha returned to Victoria for a second and third time, I didn’t hesitate to be there. I had rarely heard so much good common sense from anyone. Some of the questions she posed could help me accomplish some of the changes I needed to make to become a more pleasant and efficient human being. What is the purpose of your life? What makes your life worth living? What are your ideals and goals? Where are you focusing your energy?”

Shirley attended the 3 month Yoga Teacher’s Course at the Ashram in 1976. One of the books she wrote a report on for the course was Mr. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga which sparked a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for her. Her interest led her to more classes in this style of yoga and eventually to meeting and studying with Mr. Iyengar.

“We could not conceive of such a level of refinement, and clearly our practice was very gross in comparison with this consummate Master. In addition to his skill in practice he exhibited many of the same qualities as Swami Radha, including a direct no-nonsense approach and total devotion to his chosen path of Yoga. Their practices were of a different nature, yet the purpose of these practices was the same – to go as close the Light as possible in this lifetime. A great deal of light has been ignited by these two Masters. As teachers, they have never compromised, always seeking quality over quantity, spurning popularity to present the teachings unadulterated, always demanding the most from their students.”

She goes on to remark about Geeta:

iyengar_geeta.jpg“All of the qualities I have described about Guruji (Mr. Iyengar) and Swami Radha, their dedication and devotion to the path of yoga, can equally be applied to Geeta … She is Guruji’s most dedicated student and disciple, and one of the world’s foremost teachers in her own right.”

“For many of us from the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria, traveling to Yasodhara Ashram to be with Geeta will be a form of homecoming – a reunion with one of our important teachers on this life’s journey in the place which pointed in us in the direction to the Mamamani iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune India.”


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