In 1979 June Whittaker sought another discipline after an earlier life in classical ballet. She fell upon Iyengar Yoga in London more than 39 years ago, having been completely inspired by the sophistication and depth of its’ teaching and practices. In 1999, June moved from London to Nice, France to co-direct the Institut de Yoga Iyengar de Nice with her partner and husband Christian Pisano. She has held her Senior 3 Iyengar Yoga teachers’ certificate since 2007 and still travels regularly to India to continue her studies with the Iyengar family at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, the mother institute. Through her work, June pays homage to her teacher of 23 years, Geetaji Iyengar to whom she owes an enormous debt of gratitude and heartfelt love.
“In our system, we practice asana, pranayama, pratyahara. It is for us to investigate our states of consciousness and awareness. Using regular yoga practice we can learn to sensitize our perceptions and observe ‘what is’ from the feedback given to us by these, our beautiful and astonishing instruments.”
With experience and over time this “checking in” or “exploration” can be valued by the measure of the level of tolerance, patience, respect and the eventual dignity we are given by our practice along with any teachings or transmissions we may be blessed enough to receive. It is our process. Through our gradual and pragmatic understanding of alignment techniques which, importantly, are not only a mere alignment of our our bodily structures but include all the body’s sheaths and remember, must also include alignment with the natural order, the balance and flow of life. We can then learn to become our own teachers and masters, to discern, to cast away, to choose, in order to find our own empowerment. There is therefore no need to idolize outer gurus, spiritual teachers and leaders. We probably all do this at some point in our lives but is it not our common ultimate truth and understanding that we are born free? Is this realisation not inspirational?
Can we comprehend? Can we connect with our mats, with ourselves and importantly, with others? Can we carry this comprehension forwards with us into our lives?
Freedom is thus married with an inherent and integrated embodiment of humility and responsibility. Imposition of external laws is rendered redundant when there is this connection and alignment. No space for competition or comparison. No room for pride in asana attainment. (There are always asanas that we cannot master, are there not?) No import given to the mind’s constant demands. The profound and humorous question then arises, ‘WHO cares?’ Without individual identity and attachment there is simply an acceptance of ‘what is’ in the ever-changing moment.
Can we align with this? Can we respect life, ours and others’ place in it enough to flow in our lives, to flow in our practice on and off the mat with respect and dignity. The dignity that every living being and creature deserves. This is “leela” – the play of life and our biggest challenge.
June’s Website: sacredthread.net
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