2023 IYA Convention with Abhijata Iyengar

2023 IYA Convention with Abhijata Iyengar

In early February, a group of ten New Zealanders travelled to Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast to attend the 2023 IYA Convention with Abhijata Iyengar.  As the group of almost 260 students converged on the venue there was a buzz of excitement as attendees from all corners of Australia greeted their yoga friends in person for the first time since the pandemic.  The NZ contingent was warmly welcomed by the IYA community and we quickly made new friends and reconnected with old ones (or ones we’d met via Zoom!).   Abhijata travelled alone to Australia; it was her first time leaving her young family for an extended period of time.  The convention also fell outside her usual travel month of May when RIMYI is closed, so we felt especially grateful that she had made the long journey from Pune. The group was diverse in age, ability and experience.  There were many Australian senior teachers who studied closely with B.K.S. Iyengar for many years, as well as students who were attending their first Iyengar yoga convention.    Abhijata opened the convention on the Wednesday afternoon with a brief and humble introduction, saying that it was her intention to guide us over the coming days to an experience of yoga in its truest meaning; Sutra I.II ‘yoga citta vrtti nirodha’ – yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.  The first class began with some dynamic standing poses and within the first twenty minutes Abhijata had assessed what the group needed.  Over the course the next few days her ability to take us all exactly where we needed to go was inspiring.

Despite the diversity of the group, we travelled side by side, each on a unique and invigorating journey through the practice and philosophy of yoga, doing what we could, taking in as much as we were able to and loving the opportunity to be together in our shared love of this transformative practice. Abhijata’s teaching is dynamic, intuitive, energetic, compassionate and intelligent, and at all times delivered with a deep reverence for and acknowledgement of her grandfather Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar, her aunt Geetaji, and her uncle Prashantji.  She sees herself as ‘just another link’ in the lineage however it is evident from her teaching that she has a unique and authentic voice of her own with a clear and relevant message which will ensure that the flame of Iyengar yoga continues to burn brightly in the 21st century.

Apart from the asana and pranayama sessions with Abhijata the IYA committee had organised a full program of panel discussions and presentations including sessions on ‘Adjusting and the Nature of Consent’. ‘Iyengar Yoga, looking back looking forward’, an introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and a Question & Answer session with Abhijata which was held on the Saturday evening prior to the final dinner.  This interview can be viewed on YouTube via this link https://youtu.be/1ugNvbsYPPI.   Throughout the five days Abhijata candidly shared anecdotes (often hilarious) from her own yoga journey as well as treasured memories of her time spent in the practice hall with her grandfather.

As Guruji famously said “Words cannot convey the value of yoga – it has to be experienced.”  so I won’t even try to describe the effect of her sequencing or even pinpoint any specific ‘Aha moments’.   A highlight for me was being invited by IYA to be the on-stage demonstrator for our final session on Sunday morning. We all knew that a strong backbend practice was coming, but Abhijata surprised us all by beginning the class with an hour of pranayama which helped to settle my stage fright and prepare me for the intensity and exhilaration of multiple sirsasana drop backs into viparita dandasana – the culmination of our 5-day journey!  The photographs accompanying this article are a tiny glimpse into the adventure.

Photos thanks to Iyengar Yoga Australia.

Kathleen Powell, Auckland

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