Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Ahimsa in Action: A Calling In for White Folks

We at IYDC are anguished by the recent and ongoing killing of Black bodies. We grieve for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black folks who have been abused by or lost their lives at the hands of the system of white supremacy and the movement of white nationalism. As white Iyengar yoga practitioners, we want to urge other white folks engaged in the art, science and philosophy of Iyengar yoga that doing nothing is unacceptable. We must take action for racial justice, now.  Not doing so is equivalent to supporting the powers that be and the status quo. It’s time to read, to study, and to stay informed. 

Now more than ever is a time to reflect upon and embody the yamas--the universal moral disciplines that govern how we interact with others in the world. We invite you to think about the yama aparigraha, or non-hoarding or non-coveting when more attention is paid to looting than to loss of Black lives. As the Hampton Institute put it, “It is humanity demanding to be recognized.” We invite you to listen to Black leaders and thinkers like Ijeoma Oluo, Austin Channing Brown, Resmaa Menakem; and donate to Black organizations or causes that support BIPOC. Locally, you can donate to IYDC’s Solidarity Fund, which supports our Paid Apprenticeship program for Black students, Indigenous students, and other students of color; the Detroit Justice Center Bailout Fund; Detroit Freedom House. Nationally, you can donate to the Black Lives Matter movement or the National Bail Out Fund

Right now, it’s important to know that folks of color have different needs than white folks do, and we need to be respectful of this. Let’s talk to other white folks, rather than asking friends and colleagues of color to do the extra labor of educating us. We invite you to our Ahimsa in Action group for white-identified people. This is a space for white folks to learn and act together in order to take responsibility for our role in this oppressive system. We meet next on Friday, June 12th at 6pm. Please email to join us. Yoga gives us the tools to be resilient and to do the hard work of self examination. As white people that includes examining the way in which our society continues to be deeply racist and how we can better act to dismantle white supremacy. 

--Ahimsa in Action IYDC Chapter: Alice Bagley, Valeriya Epshteyn, Erin Shawgo, Yulya Truskinovsky, Elissa Zimmer, and others


Ahimsa in Action is a group for white-identified folks to meet and find common language around racial justice work so that we hold more of the work around educating and talking to other white folks. We began by reading Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility together in March 2020. Here are some of our reflections from participants on why engaging in this work in the yoga studio setting works for us: 

"Yoga is a practice that helps us to be more resilient, to recognize what is center for ourselves, and to work through difficulties in our lives. As white bodied people living in America, and especially in a majority Black city, we have an obligation to use those same skills to work on the injustice of the world. White Fragility fits into that yoga practice because it asks us to first look inward at our own patterns of hurtful behaviour and the illusions and prejudices that lead to that behavior. It is only after we've examined our own behavior that we can then make ourselves useful in the struggle against racism. The book also provides a very helpful shared vocabulary for our chapter of Ahimsa in Action to continue the conversation about our own behavior and what we see out in the world."
--Alice Bagley

“Having a yoga practice has given me more body awareness and has helped me to notice the relationship between emotions and where they manifest in the body. White Fragility articulated my feelings of discomfort when talking about race, and naming and noticing this reaction has allowed me to more quickly recognize and move through my discomfort in order to stay present in the work of antiracism, rather than being fragile and walking away.” 
--Elissa Zimmer

In reading “White Fragility” in a yoga context, it became clear to me that, like yoga, anti-racism is a practice. Like yoga, it does not happen automatically, but instead demands discipline, focus and regular attention. Like yoga, it requires a letting go of the ego I have been socialized to cultivate. Like yoga, it is never finished: progress can feel glacial and the next steps can feel terrifying. And so the practice of yoga supports the practice of anti-racism, but the practice of anti-racism must also support the practice of yoga, both individually and for the community. Let's show up for both practices.”
--Yulya Truskinovsky

Emotional Energy Centers of the Body

In class this week, I referenced a handout I like to provide, and announced I would put it on the blog. Page 1 was gleaned from an online source I do not have a citation to. I created page 2, which is meant to print on the back of page 1, and offers an affirmative interpretation of each energy center. They roughly correspond with the chakra system. I hope you find much to ponder. Of course, it is not meant to be viewed dogmatically, but with a spirit of curiosity and reflection.

much love in the transformative struggle,

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Sequence for Seasonal Allergies

Thanks to Laurie Blakeney and Ann Arbor School of Yoga for this week's sequence! It's timely because several students were requesting just such a sequence at this time of year. Give it a try and tell us what you experience.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

An Audio Sequence from Abhijata

Abhijata Sridhar is BKS Iyengar's granddaughter, who has become an international representative of Iyengar Yoga worldwide, especially since Guruji and Geetaji's passing. We love and appreciate the skillfullness, openmindedness, creativity, insight, and rigor she brings to her classes. In our time of worldwide sheltering at home, she has provided an audio recording and a PDF of a class taught February 12, 2020 that we urge you to try. It emphasizes forward folding while stabilizing the hips.

Abhijata comments, "Without mental stability there cannot be any physical stability. Energy is fuel for the physical body. Where your mind will go, the energy will go, so bring the awareness all over. Sthira sukham asana and dvandva anabhigata – the body AND the mind." 

The Patanjali yoga sutra references here are II.46 and II.48:

II.46 sthira-sukham âsanam
sthira = steady, stable sukham = happiness âsanam = posture
The postures of meditation should embody steadiness and ease.

II.48 tato dvandvânabhighâta
tata = therefore, from these, from that
dvandva = play of opposites, dualities
anabhighâta = insulation, being beyond disturbance
Then, one is no longer disturbed by the play of opposites. 

We urge you to look them up for further study and exploration. There are numerous resouces online, including this.

If you need reminders of the individual poses in this sequence, explore the 1-minute video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

May your practice time be an oasis in the uncertainty and struggle of this moment. May it bring you inner strength, peace, and health.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Wringing It Out

We have entered week 4 of our closure. How are you holding up? Here is a sequence to banish the feeling of staleness that can come from a physical confinement. Until we can throw our windows open and move about freely, we can create inner refreshment, and rid ourselves of toxins we may be accumulating in our bodies and minds.

This sequence, recorded by Milwaukee's Riverwest Yogashala Iyengar Yoga practitioner, Sara Arends Haggith, was taught almost a year ago at the IYNAUS Convention, by Abhijata Sridhar, BKS Iyengar's granddaughter, who co-runs the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India, with her uncle, Prashant Iyengar.

It features a variety of twists done in many unconventional ways. At the convention, Abhi commented that there were many photos left out of LIGHT ON YOGA, including many of these twist variations. Try them all out, break out of known and habitual patterns, and have fun. Let us know what you observe from this sequence, and how you feel. Drink lots of water afterwards to help flush yourself out. Enjoy! 
Gwi-Seok for IYDC

Here is a short video of my favorite Marichyasana III variation from this sequence:

Friday, April 3, 2020

Home Practice Inspiration

We are making the most of our closure by meeting online daily. Our Sunday morning Led Practice is a time for seasoned practitioners to gather together to hang out and do a sequence together, collaboratively. A different person brings a sequence each week. Last Sunday, Erin brought a sequence based on one learned in Pune, December 2017, with Gulnaz Dashti, focusing on deep groin forward folds and arm balances. Here it is for you to try out!

much love from home, Gwi-Seok

Adho Mukha Śvānāsana

Uttānāsana- legs hip-width

Adho Mukha Śvānāsana

Uttānāsana - legs together

Tāḍāsana - arms in Urdhva Hastāsana and Urdhva Baddanguliyasana

Utkaṭāsana - short holds 3-5 times

Utkaṭāsana - at wall, heels a few inches from wall, work on lengthening thighs forward, pressing ankles back, heels down.

Tāḍāsana w/ arms in UH to Utkaṭāsana to Mālāsana (hands to floor behind) - come up in reverse, repeat as many times as you like!

Daṇḍāsana to Mālāsana to Utkaṭāsana to Tāḍāsana w/ arms in UH - repeat as many times as you like!


Lolasana - change cross of legs and repeat several times on each side

Mālāsana to Bakāsana

Adho Mukha Śvānāsana

Śīrṣāsana II or if still learning Śīrṣāsana I work here

Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana on blocks


Salamba Sarvāṅgāsana cycle

Viparītakaraṇī with support


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Classes Cancelled - Water Damage to Studio

Beloved IYDC Community,

We are needing to cancel all classes from today until 16 June 2019. After 23 days of rain in May, we are facing a mold issue in the walls of the studio. When we signed the lease in December, we had no idea how the building would fare through a very wet spring, and had no indications there would be problems.

We are asking the landlord to do comprehensive mold remediation in the building. To do this we have to move all the props, dismantle the rope wall, and dismantle the cork floor. We feel we must do this for the safety and health of our students and teachers.

We are lining up temporary spaces to hold a scaled-down class schedule this summer. Do you have leads on an affordable space with ample floor room? Also, do you have some hours to volunteer to help us? Please contact if you can help in any way.

Lucky for us, Iyengar Yoga is totally adaptable to all circumstances. Even with minimal props, we can benefit from a comprehensive practice. Meanwhile, you could use this time to more fully explore other practices of yoga (pranayama, philosophy, etc), as well as develop your home practice.

Here are some home practice links you could try out:

IYDC Ananda Owners Circle
(Gwi-Seok, Erin, Valeriya, Amber)