Last week the grandfather to yoga in the western world, B.K.S. Iyengar transitioned from embodiment to whatever comes next. Had it not been for the many health ailments he suffered as a young person, which resulted in his pursuit of a life-long dedicated practice of yoga, the world of yoga as we in the western hemisphere now know it, would likely be as much a mystery to us as Unicorns. Looking through his quintessential book Light on Yoga, it is clear to see that Mr. Iyengar was a masterful practitioner, however, before he was an adept in the physical asana, he was already a great yogi for not giving in to giving up on the possibility of a long life of radiant health. In his seeing an invitation given to him by health ailments so severe it would be easy to label them only misfortune, not only did he realize the possibility of a long and flexible life, his optimistic choice by proxy has enabled me, as well as millions, if not billions of others to live radiant healthy meaningful lives too.
The opposite of his choice, seeing the detours of our lives, the ailments, and the challenges as misfortunes and direct assaults to our personal happiness, is not taking the invitation to expand and grow in the face of the hardship. When a wider perspective is taken, one of optimism and confidence in ones capacity to traverse the sidesteps of the extreme ranges of being human while maintaining inner peace, we come to know not only our innate strength and grit, but also the value of being open to enjoying life however it appears in front of us. This openness is the spacious place where steady inner peace can always be maintained. Successfully dancing the complicated steps of this waltz while sometimes tripping over our own feet and maintaining inner peace, first and foremost, requires the desire to do so. Starting with clear focused intentions, and a heart full of passion enables our capacity to pursue wellbeing and resonant harmony within and without no matter the shape of the adversity we are experiencing. When we only perceive love, joy, and health as being available to us in one way then we limit ourselves to the myriad of other ways contentment and harmony can walk through our doors, for in the only one-way perspective, there is only one door. It’s like playing that game as children where you put the correct shaped pegs into the holes of their corresponding shape. Some holes will never correspond with some pegs no matter how much we batter them with our little plastic hammers. Allowing the circumstances of our lives the opportunity to manifest into their most full form of serenity and joyfulness without forcing the world around us to be as we think it should be, is living with an unconditioned heart, practicing really good yoga, and leaving room to shine some light onto Unicorns.
If you have not thumbed through the pictures of Light On Yoga, I recommend it. I offer that there is no need to feel like you are less of a person if the asana demonstrated in the book appears to never seem attainable to you, truth is, one never knows what the future has in store, and as far as I understand being able to put your feet behind your head does not necessarily make you a better person. For myself, looking at his photos and remembering that his journey to that amazing expression of his being was a long and patient walk, reminds me that no matter the foundation we may start with, through passionate focused intention and dedicated practice, many, if not all obstacles can be surmounted.
In the wake of Mr. Iyengars departure I find myself in deep gratitude for the so-called misfortunes of the human experience. Reflecting on my own personal journey as well, I know, that were it not for my hardships, my illnesses, my personal dance through discontent to content, the contentment I experience in the spaciousness of this knowing perspective would not exist. Something would be there, but it would be less evolved in empathetic understanding, less capable of compassion, and less knowing of my resilience.
Truly, it's just more fun to think it may be a Unicorn not a monster that shows up in that deep blue of the mysterious unknown.
In Love, Joy, and a never ending search for Unicorns, Genevieve