All over the world Iyengar Yoga classes begin with three Oms and the Invocation to Patanjali. At the sound of the first Om, I feel immediately at home here in Pune half way around the world from Portland. We have had classes with Gulnaz Dashti, Prashant Iyengar and yes, (lucky us!) Geeta Iyengar. In addition to our daily classes, there are medical classes and open practice times.
Medical classes are for those who have a specific medical issue. After submitting a letter describing their unique situation, Geeta Iyengar will create an individual sequence for them, which they are expected to practice three times a week here at the Iyengar Institute. Frequently a family member will accompany them in order to learn how to assist them in their poses. The poses include a large number of props, as this better ensures that the pose is accessible to the student. The props also serve to support the areas of the practitioner’s body that may be tight, in pain or closed down. Support, both physical and emotional, is an important element in healing.
As in the past, I have been assisting in the medical classes. Yesterday I was working along with two of my colleagues helping a person living with Parkinson’s disease. This was particularly exciting for me, as one of my students in Portland recently told me that a loved one had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and wanted to know what Iyengar Yoga might offer. Each person’s situation is different, dependent also on their age and physical health, which is why we cannot just glibly apply one person’s sequence to another, but while I am here I hope to learn some of the yogic principles involved with working with this disease.