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Celebrating Iyengar Yoga Teachers

Thursday 5th October is Teacher’s Day, a special day for the appreciation of teachers, and to celebrate we want to honour the Iyengar Yoga teachers that have made a big difference to our learning and development here at Yoga on Tay.


Iyengar Yoga is a form of Yoga that was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar and is known for its focus on precision, alignment, and the use of yoga props.


When you attend an Iyengar Yoga class, you not only get your teacher but you'll also receive a little bit of every teacher they have ever learnt from, in their teaching.


Below each of our teachers here at Yoga on Tay, talks about their Iyengar Yoga teachers and the impact they have had.


Julie Anderson, Level 3 Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


Julie Anderson at RIMYI, Pune
Julie Anderson at RIMYI, Pune

For a practice that originated in India the reach of this wonderful wisdom, in all its forms, has seeped over millennia to now be truly available to all. Not least in the wonderful Kingdom of Fife at Yoga on Tay. It is important to remember that while much teaching can be accessed on-line, the traditions of practice are rooted through an in-person teacher-student relationship.


I first found Iyengar yoga at the Edinburgh Iyengar Centre in 1981, it took a certain amount of courage to enter the door, but I have never looked back. The outcome of many years of practice and teacher training there came in 1999. When my friend Carol and I left our young families for a whole month to go to Pune and be taught by BKS Iyengar, his daughter Geeta and son Prashant. This, and all our subsequent trips, have shaped our yoga for ever. We have been most fortunate to learn the discipline and precision of this traditional style of yoga from the source.

In the way that Guruji imparted his knowledge through Geeta and Prashant I now keep in touch with my Pune teaching through live and on-line classes with Ali Dashti and Penny Chaplin… always learning

Julie



Frances Christensen, Level 1 Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


Over the last 49 years I have benefited from working under the guidance of a number of Iyengar yoga teachers, mostly at the lovely light filled Edinburgh Iyengar Yoga Centre.


Due to work commitments, my regular class was at lunchtime on Saturday. This meant I was lucky enough to develop my practice working for more than a decade firstly with Katie Rutherford and then with Lesley Johnston for decades after. The consistent yet ever evolving practice I established mainly with these teachers, served me well and enabled me to take up the opportunity to become an Iyengar yoga teacher when I retired. Under the guidance of Liz Ballantyne and Julie Anderson, I qualified to teach in November 2020.


These are four names of teachers to whom I owe so much. But there are many others who shaped my understanding, developed my insights and whose voices and guidance I can still hear in my inner ear. To Elaine, Meg, Jane, Claudia, Clare, Maureen, Catero, Catriona and Stuart - my thanks.


And special thanks to must go to my first teacher who in 1974 laid the foundations of my love for Iyengar yoga on the grey scratchy floor tiles of an upstairs room in the main refectory of Pollock Halls of Residence. I cannot be sure but think this must have been Bob Welham who taught in Pollock Halls, the Health (Pill) Centre and the Pleasance over my time in the University of Edinburgh.

Frances



Jo Mitchell, Level 1 Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


Teachers are so important in Iyengar Yoga and I feel so lucky with every single Iyengar Yoga teacher that I have been taught by.


I began Iyengar Yoga in Edinburgh, attending a Saturday morning class with Stella Craven at Glenogle Pool in Stockbridge. On my walk home after the class, I began to notice I was always in a great mood. I didn't know why this was but the 'yoga' seed was sown and I continued to attend Stella's classes, including some classes at the Edinburgh Iyengar Yoga Centre. There I saw these older women moving with such grace and poise, they almost glided as they walked. I wanted to know more! Also around this time Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls, relaunching her solo career with a super svelte outline which she attributed to yoga. All of these things intrigued me however it was still simply just yoga to me as I had only ever attended Iyengar Yoga classes so I thought all yoga was like Iyengar Yoga.


Before moving to Vancouver in 2012, I asked Stella what kind of yoga she taught and off I went to Canada and typed 'Iyengar Yoga near me' into Google. Lo and behold I had the wonderful Ingelise Nherlan teaching a couple of blocks from my house. What luck! She was a joyful teacher and I am thankful for my time in her classes. The video interview in her tribute is a wonderful watch.


Moving back to Fife in 2014, I did the same google search and found Alan Gould's class in Burntisland. This began my journey toward teacher training with Liz Ballantyne and Julie Anderson which was a great experience for me. Both Liz and Julie are talented teachers that created a rich and detailed teacher training course.


Since qualifying in 2020, I have been lucky enough to attend Ali Dashti's online classes. These were a silver lining for me during the pandemic and a brief step into an international world for 90 minutes when lockdowns kept us at home. I would also like to include a thank you to Lucienne Vidal, from Studio Spine in New York, whose Edinburgh workshops are always highlight for me. I also had a wee smile to myself when I learned Geri Halliwell is a student of Iyengar Yoga,

Jo


Helena Porrelli Level 1 Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


I have many teachers to thank for the role they have played in getting me to where I am today on my yoga journey. It has been almost exactly ten years since I walked into my first Iyengar Yoga class and thus began the path I will doubtlessly follow for the rest of my life! I was living abroad in Republic of Congo at the time. I had not been there long before I was told I “absolutely must go to yoga with Michelle.” With some trepidation, I rang Michelle and enquired about attending. I was instantly welcomed and briefed in the usual Iyengar way – that we hold the poses a bit longer, that we focus on precision and correct alignment, that we build from the foundations up. It was a sharp contrast to other yoga classes I had previously attended and I loved it. Michelle’s classes were meticulously planned and executed with a high level of attention to detail and delivery with great humour and positivity. In a French-speaking country with a predominantly French ex-pat population, these first classes were in French, with the occasional English instruction from Michelle if I just wasn’t quite getting it! I was being challenged in so many new ways. It wasn’t long before I was attending twice a week and had begun my own home practice. I didn’t know it then, but I had begun my journey to becoming an Iyengar teacher.


On holiday in South Africa in 2014 I organised 1:1 lessons with Brigitta Tummon, a senior teacher in Cape Town. She inspired me further by having me attend her Intermediate classes. I remember watching on in amazement as all her students did head balance and seemingly endless rounds of variations without toppling over. Looking back, I know that she aimed to inspire me and show me what was possible. Brigitta insisted I buy Light on Yoga and Light on Pranayama as well as a full set of props. I left South Africa with all this equipment (no small heap, if you know your Iyengar props!), and a gift from her: the required course book for introductory teacher training (although that detail was lost on me at the time!).


When I returned to Scotland, I quickly sought out an Iyengar teacher. As luck would have it a colleague at the time attended classes with Maurice Finn in the Southside of Glasgow. Maurice became my Scottish teacher and supported my application to become an Iyengar teacher. From 2018 – 2020 I trained with Helen Graham, and in 2019 Julie Anderson became my Scottish teacher when I moved to Dundee. How incredibly lucky I was that Dundee had a dedicated Iyengar Yoga studio just over the water in Newport on Tay!

Helena




Marieke Dwarshuis Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


I am the ultimate 'yoga groupie' to my very own international teacher: I have been in India, Mallorca and Finland with Julie when she has been teaching there.


In recent years I have enjoyed classes at Iyoga Utrecht in the Netherlands with Claas Hille whenever I'm there. The huge bonus from lockdown were online classes with Ali Dashti, now based in Bern. And having attended various workshops with her over the years, this summer I finally got to go to Margaret Austin's summer school in Sunderland. All of them have made me think and encouraged as well as challenged me in a way that attending a single teacher can't do. Thousands of great teachers in single system worldwide - it's fantastic!

Marieke


Iyengar Yoga: Exceptional Teaching Standards


Becoming a certified Iyengar yoga teacher is a rigorous and rewarding journey. All Iyengar yoga teachers are trained to very high standards, with a minimum of six years’ practice before qualifying.


The Iyengar method emphasizes precise alignment and the use of props to support students in their practice. To become certified, one must complete a minimum of three years of regular practice, followed by a two-year teacher training program or mentorship. During the mentoring, prospective teachers must demonstrate proficiency in teaching asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) to a variety of students, including those with injuries or limitations.


After completing the training program, teachers must undergo a rigorous assessment process, including written and practical exams, to become certified.


The certification process ensures that Iyengar yoga teachers have a deep understanding of the method and are able to guide students safely and effectively on their yoga journey.


Life long learning of Iyengar Yoga


Once qualified, teachers must continue to train and complete regular professional development training in order to maintain their certificate and use the Iyengar name. In this way, the care and precision that characterises Iyengar yoga is maintained.

These high teaching standards are part of the reason Iyengar yoga is the most widely practised method of yoga worldwide. The Certification Mark is the guarantee of this quality.



Iyengar Yoga Teachers Worldwide listing

There are over 5800 Iyengar Yoga teachers around the world. You can find them all listed here https://bksiyengar.com/modules/Teacher/teacher.asp?Country=Scotland

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