Alambana Workshop @ Manasa Yoga School

August is usually the time for the Alambana (“support”) workshop at Manasa School of Yoga. So the workshop is usually Iyengar-based, using props and tools to help ease us into a pose.

The first day’s focus was on Hanumasana, not a pose I am particularly good in. Previous classes on Hanuman at Manasa has been a beautiful experience, however, as the philosophy is rich and beautiful. The philosophy this time round was as beautiful and profound as ever, but it did not resonate as strongly with me as it did before. In terms of anatomy, we focused on contracting the opposing muscle to expand the intended stretched muscle.

We then proceeded to work on hamstring and hip flexor contraction and stretches, using the various props, including the ropes, wall and chair – after all, it was a support-based workshop. Some of the highlights included handstand hanumasan into regular hanumasan on the floor (my attempt below).

The second day was focused on arm balance. Arm balances are really not my forte and I have been working hard to getting better at it. Admittedly, this year I have been focusing on Ashtanga Vinyasa, and on the second day of this workshop, I discovered how unbalanced I am now with arm balances, after the months of non-practice. In fact, I even fell down and split my lip and hit my upper teeth. That shook me up a little. But then again, as Manoj said, ‘Hanuman’ means ‘broken jaw’, so I guess I kept in the spirit of the workshop. And triumph of triumphs, I managed titibahsana with blocks pretty well!

The final day was on heart-opening. Okay, this is one of my strengths, definitely compared to arm balances. Lots of rope work and chair work to get the heart open. And the story of Visakantha, the blue-throat Shiva, really helped in lifting up the heart. A breakthrough – Visvamitrasana!

Four days after the workshop, we learnt about the passing of Guru Iyengar. This is indeed sad.

For me, Kino MacGregor expresses it well for me:

While I think it’s amazing that yoga is reaching so many people in so many new and different ways Iyengar’s passing makes it only more evident to me how crucial it is that we, the teachers and students of yoga, have a responsibility to honor the dedication of our teachers before us and embody not just the asanas, but the true essence of yoga, the inner tradition. It is the introspective work of each individual student that honors this tradition—we must be strong enough to carry this message forward in the world. It is the yogi’s journey to the center of the self through the tool of asana that unlocks the limitless potential of the human spirit.

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