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»His keen eyesight never missed anything!«

New interview with Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Jawahar Bangera about BKS Iyengar's teachings, online yoga via zoom and how to make the best of a situation and turn it into an advantage.

Jawahar (left) and Ramanand in Hanumanasana under the guru’s gaze, Kawailoa Beach. Credits: Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center

Claudia Lamas Cornejo: When and how did you start your yoga practice?

Jawahar Bangera: I finished boarding school in 1969. Returning to Mumbai, I was surprised my family (both parents and 3 brothers) has already joined an Iyengar Yoga class on Sundays. The timing was 07:30 to 09:30 am.

In my growing years, we never questioned our parents. So it was normal to be ORDERED to attend the class. In the boarding school, our days always started very early and I was not a ‘morning person’….so I had to be ‘dragged’ to the class! When I got to know there was a class also on Saturdays from 14:00 to 16:00, I readily opted for that timing.

In the earlier years, Guruji used to visit Mumbai every weekend traveling by train, come rain or shine! He conducted a class on Saturday late afternoon and another on Sunday morning. After teaching the Sunday class he would return by train to Pune. This was the month of May. Guruji used to travel abroad in May to teach Lord Yehudi Menuhin and his group of friends. In Guruji’s absence, his senior-most students used to conduct the classes. Therefore, I was introduced to Iyengar Yoga by Guruji’s trained teachers. When Guruji returned, I requested permission to be his student and he accepted at once. So technically, I was introduced to Iyengar Yoga by Guruji’s students and got initiated into the subject by Guruji.

CLC: What is for you personally the most important memory of him?

JB: There are too many memories! Before I met Guruji, I came across his classic book, “Yoga Dipika” (Light On Yoga). My parents had this book. This was a hardbound issue with all the pictures at the back of the book. The pictures were fascinating! Being in a boarding school, it was compulsory to play games, (football, hockey, cricket) and P.T. which included running, athletics, gymnastics, boxing. In our P.T. sessions our teacher used to make us practice arm balancing āsana. This aspect caught my interest. The big surprise was when I met Guruji, I said to myself, “this is the same person in the book!!” It is not often one gets to meet the author of a classic book and also observe his practice!

CLC: Did you travel with BKS Iyengar and Geetaji to foreign conventions and if so, what is your dearest memory traveling with your teacher and helping in this international conventions?

JB: Again, there are many memoires! I was fortunate that Guruji thought I was worthy enough to accompany him on his visits in 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1993. I did not get the opportunity to serve Geetaji on her International Conventions.

Guruji was already in his mid-sixties in 1984. We were well aware of the speed with which Guruji used to move in the classroom. It was more amazing to see him move swiftly from one classroom to another, tirelessly observing the teachers and the students! His keen eyesight never missed anything that went around. Each class had a different calibre of students and he helped every teacher conduct the class with his in-sight on how to communicate so there is no misunderstanding between the words and the meaning conveyed.

”Guruji simplified how even the most experienced teacher should conduct a class.“

During the first visit, Guruji’s accommodation was different from the group that accompanied him. At that time, many did not know that Guruji always liked to be with the group that he travelled with. Still, he ensured that each one of us was comfortably placed and properly fed, just as a parent looks after the children!

CLC: Due to the pandemic, the upcoming German convention in June will still be online – what do you personally see as an advantage of this relatively new format of teaching and learning online and what are in your eyes the disadvantages?

JB: I must confess when the pandemic started, I did not expect it to last as long as it did. When I was requested to start teaching ONLINE, I was convinced Iyengar Yoga CANNOT be taught online.

After RIMYI started online sessions, my fellow Trustees and I did not have any excuse not to conduct classes online. Here, some of our students who were already using ZOOM for their business activities, gave us a few tutorials on how the medium can be handled. These lessons were useful to give us some confidence on conducting our classes.

It did take me very long to get used to it. Then I adapted myself to the medium. I noticed, in the interest of keeping the participants safe, I was changing the instructions to help them work by themselves using props or house-hold furniture to give them the benefits of Iyengar Yoga.

In an in-person session, one quickly adjusts physically the mistakes/corrections and moves on with the class. Online, we can help the participant to make one’s own adjustment!

This is one of the biggest advantages to make the participant be one’s own teacher and helper!

Online sessions have been a great learning for me to draw on my own experiences and try to communicate it as clearly as possible. Presently I am so comfortable using the virtual medium that I do not miss the in-person sessions! In fact I have cancelled my visits abroad for sometime and requested my friends to permit me to share Iyengar Yoga online.

Personally, I do not look at disadvantages! One must learn to make the best of a situation and turn it into an advantage.

Claudia Lamas C: Thank you for your time, Jawahar!

Jawahar Bangera: Thank and see you soon at the German Online-Convention!


Jawahar Bangera, a world-renowned senior Iyengar yoga teacher and a close disciple of BKS Iyengar over multiple sessions, will teach the upcoming German Iyengar Yoga Online-Convention, June, 17-19th, 2022, 10-12:30 (asanas), 12:30-01:00 pm CET (Q&A).



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