Throughout your yoga journey, finding ways to reconnect with your practice in a deeper way, can change your perspective and add new meaning. Earlier this year, two Iyengar Yoga teachers from Artemis Yoga, Sue Gormley and Susan Mulski, reconnected with their practice and teaching at the 2023 Iyengar Yoga National Convention of the US.
Founded by BKS Iyengar 75 years ago, “Iyengar Yoga takes a pose-by-pose approach to classical yoga so you can build on your individual progress as you gain strength and increase flexibility. Iyengar Yoga seeks to align the body, mind and breath while using props to make yoga accessible to all.” In his book, Light on Life, BKS Iyengar writes, “Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
The IYNAUS Convention invited students and teachers of all levels to practice and learn Iyengar Yoga. This year’s theme was, Sankalpa: A Yogic Life of Intent, with keynote presenter, Abhijata Iyengar, the grand-daughter of BKS Iyengar. During the week-long convention in San Diego, participants took 2 pranayama or asana classes a day led by Abhijata and attended breakout sessions about method development or teacher development that helped further their practice. The convention’s main focus is keeping the lineage fresh and continuous as well as to build and grow its dedicated community. Typically the convention takes place every 3 years in the US.
Sue Gormley attended her first convention as a student. Her experience as a teacher was different. Instead of thinking about her own practice, she thought about how she could bring these teachings to her classes. She asked herself questions like “How would this work in a class with someone who had restrictions or was new to the practice?”
Susan Mulski attended her first 2 conventions as a student. As a student, she was worried about keeping up with doing 5 hours of yoga each day. As a teacher, she learned the importance of receiving the teaching where you are. She has expanded her awareness and become a better student now that she is a teacher.
Both Sue and Susan spoke about how Abhijata, the granddaughter of BKS Iyengar, has brought a different lens to the method. Currently 38 years old, Abhijata is much younger than BKS and his daughter (her aunt), Geeta Iyengar were when they were teaching. At first, Abhijata was reluctant to take on being the head of this practice but she has brought a fun and active new side to the practice. Sue said “she gives more room for freedom, she wants you to have the experience of the practice.” The originators had harder lives, and you can tell because the practice was a bit more rigid but now, with Abhijata, it’s softer.
Sue said that the convention was really experimental, you had a chance to try new things and have fun with it. Abhijata told them “If a pose isn’t coming for you, try the next pose higher” and it’s something that really stuck with Sue. Iyengar Yoga in the past seemed to hold the idea that you have to do things perfectly but that’s not the case in reality. Sue likes to remind students to have fun and if a pose isn’t working for you, try the next pose in the sequence to determine what might not be working for you. It’s all about trying and enjoying your own personal practice. While becoming a certified teacher, she has seen how the Iyengar Yoga method has changed and adapted which has in turn changed her teaching.
Something that Abhijata had said during the convention that really resonated with Susan is “it’s not the pose that you do, it’s what you do in the pose”. As Susan has continued to study, she has realized that your practice resonates from your physical body to your mind. You continue to practice because of how it not only makes your body feel, but how it also helps your mindset. She loves that Iyengar Yoga is a practice that can meet any student where they are, it really is for everyone.
Sue Gormley started practicing Iyengar Yoga back in the 80s at Patricia Walden’s studio. There were only two yoga studios in the Boston area so finding a class was difficult. At Patricia’s studio, Sue went to Peentz Dubble’s class every week for almost 8 years. Then in the 90s, more studios opened and she studied Flow for a bit. After she moved to Newton, she reconnected with Peentz in 2010 and took Iyengar Yoga again. Once her kids were old enough to go to school, she had more time to focus on her yoga practice. There was a 500 hour training session with Peentz in Newton so she decided to give it a try and now she’s at Artemis Yoga!
Susan Mulski found an Iyengar class taught by Roni Brissette in Brookline. She admired Roni’s ability to teach the poses in so many different ways and her dedication to her students. Susan started her yoga teacher journey about 6 years ago. After working at home as a writer for 20 years, she wanted to get out of the house and thought teaching yoga would be a good fit. She had no idea what an arduous path she was embarking upon. After 5 years of training, apprenticeship, and passing assessment, she received her certificate. Unfortunately, 3 months later, the pandemic closed studios. Her prior training did not prepare her for the new reality of teaching online and she needed to learn new skills. Ironically she found herself working at home on a computer again. Then she found Artemis Yoga and hasn’t looked back!
Experience a reconnection with your own practice in Sue and Susan’s weekly classes Artemis Yoga. Sue Gormley teaches Iyengar Fundamentals on Mondays at 9:30am, Iyengar General Levels on Wednesdays at 11am, Iyengar (Experienced) on Thursdays at 6pm, and Ropes Yoga on Mondays and Fridays at 11am. Susan Mulski teaches Iyengar Fundamentals on Fridays at 9:30am and a one hour Iyengar Yoga class on Sundays at 9:45am.