On the mat Fitness

Remembering Geeta S Iyengar, an inspirational yoga teacher

Geeta S. Iyengar

Geeta S. Iyengar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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I started my journey into yoga with medical problems: three slipped discs and immense pain, which had an effect on my body and mind. Soon, I got a home teacher, and in a year, we had reached a level where I could practise on my own. One day, while browsing in a bookstore I got my hands on Yoga: A Gem for Women, by Geeta S Iyengar, the youngest daughter of BKS Iyengar. That was the first time I read about a woman yoga teacher talking about the importance of yoga in a woman’s life, which is strange, because yoga is done mostly by women, with a predominance of male teachers!

The book is a must-read for all women, as it covers the major stages of life and the changes the body goes through at every age. I began using the book to take me through my daily practice, and within a few months, I felt stronger, both in my mind and body.

Though I have met Geetaji, as she is called by all, I never practised with her, but I have had the opportunity to study under her lifelong student Zarina Kolah. Through her, I got to know of Geetaji’s philosophy and teachings. Iyengar yoga uses simple props like a rolled towel, a brick, a chair, a rope, making yoga accessible to all, even to people who have physical disabilities.

Geeta Iyengar showed us that the path of yoga requires dedication: she started teaching at the age of 15 and was dedicated to her father and his way of teaching. In fact, she died just a few days after the centenary celebrations of her father’s life. She chose to be a sanyasin, carrying forward the work he had started.

Baddha Konasana (Bound angle pose)

Sit with your legs stretched. Lift the hips a little, off the floor, and place a cushion under the hips.

Inhale; bend the legs towards the chest. Exhale; drop the right knee to the right and the left knee to the left, and allow the feet to touch each other. Place the palm on the floor behind the hips and extend the spine by pressing on the palms. Hold this pose, breathing deeply for 10 breaths.

Inhale; lift the palm and reach forward to hold the toes or feet with both your hands.

Exhale; bend the elbows on the thighs and press them down towards the floor, feeling a stretch on the hips and thighs. If the knees don’t touch the floor, do not force them, as this is due to tight hips. Place a block or bolster under the knees to support them. Hold this pose for a few breaths; release.

Benefits: This classic pose benefits the entire body. Apart from being a hip opener, it stimulates the abdominal organs, the ovaries, and kidneys. The regular practice of the pose benefits a woman’s body at all stages of her life.

Seema Sondhi discovered yoga when she suffered three lumbar slipped discs and was advised complete bed rest. Over the last 18 years, she has trained and been certified from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre and Matthew Sweeney. She has also written six books on the subject

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Printable version | Jan 30, 2020 1:31:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/remembering-geeta-s-iyengar-an-inspirational-yoga-teacher/article25870237.ece

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