Intermediate Junior III – What the heck does THAT mean? Well, good question…though it is the title and the label of the level of Iyengar Certification that I passed over the weekend. Staying at an Air B&B while in San Francisco and trying to describe why I was there to my host, I found it hard to sum up this path and this journey in even 5 minutes or less. This poses a problem in the culture of tweets and snaps and where everyone has a “certified yoga instructor” in their circle somewhere.
So, thank goodness for the blog! First, it is important to relate the time and effort that candidates for assessment in the Iyengar method take even initially. I have been certified for 15 years now, but at the beginning it took me 4 years and countless hours to become a CIYT (Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher). Past that, it is a personal choice to continue on the path of assessment through the Junior and Senior levels.
I have made that personal choice to continue down this path. For me, the certification manual that contains the lists of poses, the required knowledge, and the reading for each level make up a beautiful map and guide to transformation and change and process and self discovery. Each level that I have taken has brought me to a deeper level of understanding of myself and therefore I am able to pass that understanding on to my students.
And it is not just the manual…the process of assessment itself for me is a necessary part of this path. Sure…I would study yoga no matter what, but how do I “really” know what progress I have made?? There are things I can see within myself, but it helps to have outside eyes and ears…that is the role of a teacher … to see what you may not. And Iyengar Yoga relies heavily on this aspect of lineage and student/teacher relationship.
Assessment requires a very LITERAL experience of exposing your self and being seen and heard by those more experienced than you. You are put to the test of knowledge and voice and clarity and understanding…not just for yourself but for those around you… and most importantly your students who also are receiving this path and practice in turn from you. From the outside in, people see the assessment process as “too difficult”, “too rigorous”, “too judgmental”, or even “not yogic”. But, what is yoga except for actual, tangible, true, and raw transformation??
Is it stressful?? Of course! We spend years in practice and study to then boil it all down into a written exam, a demonstration of poses, and a teaching of a class to students we don’t even know. Nerves get in the way, you are under time constraints, maybe THAT weekend you just aren’t yourself, but all of this leads to a level of self knowledge and strength and courage. I GUARANTEE that I would have NEVER put myself in any situation so uncomfortable willingly without the practice of yoga. So now, when uncomfortable situations in life come around, I have an understanding of my reactions, my emotions, my ability to withstand the pressure and sustain composure under that stress.
And outside of that stress, there is the beauty and gratitude and heart-filled community of Iyengar Yoga students and teachers coming together for one purpose of carrying on Guruji, BKS Iyengar’s teachings. He demanded a dedication to practice and encouraged communities to come together through the practice. This is most apparent in an assessment.
Wandering into the room of peers all under the same pressure is reassuring and exciting! You may not know them, but you “KNOW” them, because they are you. The senior teachers there to assess you applaud your efforts and encourage no matter what may be the outcome. They literally volunteer their time to be there for you to help you along to the next level. I am very typically overcome with gratitude and joy to finally be there and feel the strength and dedication of this lineage carried on throughout the ages.
I did pass again, but that does not mean I don’t know the work I still have in front of me. It dawned on me during this assessment that this path and process also clarify many other teachings that BKS Iyengar passed on to us for teaching. Always analyze and question what and how you are teaching…what worked and didn’t work…who caught instructions and who didn’t and why…what was effective and what was extra…all these came in to my mind immediately after my time slot was done. Though this does happen in my regular teaching of classes as well, I would say it is not as IN MY FACE or clear as when there is a “pass” or “not pass” at the end of it.
I know this is a long one to read, but it is a long path that could last some lifetimes….so no few words will ever describe the process and the path completely. But to close things out, I absolutely want to recognize that this path and process is not done by me alone. I would not be here if it weren’t for the encouragement, teaching, homework, guidance, love, and dedication given by my teachers and students and peers alike. The Iyengar Yoga Community is local and global and fills me with so much love and gratitude I could never fully express.
Next stop…INDIA !!!!! This will be my 5th trip and it is always “a trip”, so stay tuned for that right here….