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 (more…)