As one of the main sponsors of the upcoming Iyengar “Maitri” conference in DC, I wanted to really convey the meaning behind Maitri. To this end I asked Ashley to come up with some questions for our connections there. Susan Marcus and Phyllis Rolins, as well as Maitri Conference Steering Committee Members and Certified Iyengar Teachers, gave us such unbelievable answers, we decided to pass them onto you unfiltered:
1. How do you incorporate maitri into your daily life and yogic practice?
Maitri is one of the virtues that the Yoga Sutras identifies to “cultivate” as a method for quieting fluctuations and minimizing the afflictions of daily life.
In daily life it is sometimes easy to be happy, joyful and compassionate, and sometimes difficult. This is such an obvious statement that it almost doesn’t warrant mentioning, except that it can offer us an insight into minimizing the difficult times by maximizing our experience of “ease.” When we are nurtured by our practice we can more often find the ease needed to remain tranquil during the inevitable times of stress. As distractions and obstacles beset us, if we can find the silence within during practice on the mat, we can use this as an opportunity to expand our feelings of friendliness and compassion for others. When the perceived errors of others burden our sensibility, if we can recognize our ultimate oneness, then compassion can replace our judgment and irritation.
2. How do you view the relationship between Maitri and the teachings of the Iyengars?
Iyengar yoga is an explication of the traditional form of yoga as a spiritual path, as written in the Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, etc. The gift of BKS Iyengar has been his efforts to make this spiritual path accessible to the ordinary person. His directions for performing asana and pranayama, and his invention of the use of props, allow all to benefit. Light on Life engagingly translates the complexities and challenges of a life of practice. The rigorous training of Iyengar yoga teachers ensures depth of understanding and knowledge in the transmission of the teaching…this could be seen as a beautiful demonstration of Maitri – friendliness towards those who are on this path of practice.
3. In your opinion, what values differentiate this yoga conference community from the rest?
The Maitri Yoga Conference takes the theme of Friendliness and weaves it into the texture of the entire conference. From classes to panel discussions, participants will have the opportunity to learn methods to incorporate this virtue into their practice on the mat, and into their lives. Sharing this quality of friendliness and compassion among our friends and acquaintances can create a dynamic for change within our own consciousness and throughout the larger yoga community.
This conference comes at a time when the larger yoga and spiritual community is polarized. While yoga has reached international popularity and medical science and therapy have embraced it’s physical and mental benefits, it is simultaneously being sensationalized as dangerous. Across the different branches of yoga there are conflicts, interpretations, and misinterpretations – i.e., whose path is the right path.
With the source intention of the Maitri sutras, we have opened our doors to teachers and students to experience the yoga practice as developed by BKS Iyengar.
Our intention is to bring together students and teachers of all traditions to explore this virtue together in a group setting.
4. What would you like to share with attending yogis prior to the conference?
Here are two poignant excerpts from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
- I.33 Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.
- III. 24.The practitioner gains moral and emotional strength by perfecting friendliness and other virtues towards one and all.
We want to share with the participants how excited those of us who have been planning the conference for the last two years are to finally get the opportunity to come together as a group.
This is an opportunity for Iyengar and non-Iyengar practitioners to experience the “meditation in action” of Iyengar yoga. It’s an opportunity for students and teachers to be in class together. It’s the gathering of the wisdom and experience of 300+ collective years of our teachers, listening to the stories of how the teaching and practice has grown and changed.
These two sutras can help us to come an understanding of the some of the problems are besetting the world around us.
To all of you (whether you plan to come or not) we encourage to contemplate the virtues of compassion and friendliness in your life — as the recipient or as the one who is compassionate towards others. Consider how these virtues can affect you, your community and the world. Peace though yoga through peace.
Tags: Bhagavad Gita, BKS Iyengar, cultivation, friendliness, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, IYASE, Iyengar yoga, Light on Life, Maitri, maitri iyengar regional conference, meditation of action, susan marcus, washington d.c., yoga sutras