Friday, July 23, 2010


I’m back from a beautiful and challenging retreat in Italy (Quercia calante). We were about 25 yoga-teachers from all over the world that met in the most beautiful nature and worked about 7- 8 hours a day with Glenn Ceresoli (Iyengar yoga) with change. Around the practice every possible comfort, that I can imagine, was seen to.
Personally my focus point was change – so it suited me just fine, that he stressed this as a fellow-focus-point, for the retreat – I was so grateful for this. Other main subjects occurred during practice, for example there was a pranayama focus, for me. My pranayama-practice was both disturbed and developed, by changing the sitting position so drastically. Sometimes I had to open my eyes (secretly ;-) to check if it was really true – that I moved so much or so little… Often it visually didn’t look like so much – that I internally experienced the movement.

I brought 3 sutras to my three weeks of travelling. They beautifully matched the yoga-work. My teacher even used some of the pictures that Iyengar uses to describe prana :-) in the sutras I was studying the night before.
Now, I start posting about sutra 2.47 and 2.49 – since I have the papers from my contemplation and meditations on these sutras with me home. Somehow I have lost the papers for sutra 2.48… But it’s all in me, so I will write it down soon.

2.47 "Perfection in asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached" (Iyengar translation)

The first experience that I remember, when I read this, is learning to drive a car or a MC for that sake. In the beginning I had tension in every muscle, even my tongue :-) when I was driving, as the effort to make the vehicle move and join traffic became ... almost subconscious - effortless I often experience "the stream of life" or the truth of the travelling position, while driving. Effortlessness.
I can also relate this to my yoga-asana-practice. But right now, I’ve done (to me) seriouse challenging yoga, so the effortless is a bit further away from me, but I can relate :-)
A more tangible experience is when the prop I've been using to hold a pose is no longer needed or when the pose I've been struggling to get into, suddenly (typically for me, by learning a small technique) is just there and available and easy.

Iyengar writes that there is a balancing edge for us, between the effortless state and the way to get to this state; through "perseverance, alertness and insight". I get this, sometimes I can try too hard. Often I give up before I even tried, the two "out of balance" or off the edge positions that lead nowhere. From the yoga-work I've been doing in Italy, this reminds me of the words from our teacher about not to lose our goal in the techniques and details that gets presented to us. To me the most significant touchable goal is lightness and ease. (tak gud)

Sutra 2.49 "Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention. It is to be practiced only after perfection in asana is attained" (Desikachar translation)
The first thing I read is the clarity (in all my different translations) that pranayama comes AFTER mastering asanas. I take this as a very clear guideline. Don’t mess with this. And my tiny experiences of how huge I experience the subtlest of movement in my body – while doing pranayama – makes it easy for me to understand why this is so.
I only teach pranayama, for longer times with more experienced students, that chose to take this class. But I also do introductions, small “conscious contact” to the breath in every class, I think it is so important to start having a relationship with our very essence of life, or as Iyengar writes: Prana is "the prime mover of all activity. It is the wealth of life"

I love this poetry that comes in trying to describe prana "Prana is an auto-energizing force which creates a magnetic field in the form of the universe and plays with it, both to maintain, and to destroy for further creation". This is significant to me. The both destroying and creating, the both being and non-being - the all inclusive. And maybe this is change? Does all change include something dying? Our teacher said that the only thing that hurts in change is our resistance to the change. But can the death of something (like an old idea) be felt?

I’ll be back on sutra 2.48
Jenni Saunte

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