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Seizing the Whip: B. K. S. Iyengar and the Making of Modern Yoga

5 out of 5 based on 3 customer ratings
(3 customer reviews)

$13.00

This 43-page article explains the formative impact of yoga performance and solitary practice in making Iyengar a great posture master and teacher, and—more importantly—examines the anatomy of Iyengar's character and tutelage under Krishnamacharya carefully, drawing conclusions as to their implications for Iyengar's work and the nature of yoga worldwide.

This document is also available by special arrangement for licensed use in Teacher Training Manuals for $108.

Click the image at left for a preview of the first page.

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Product Description

This 43 page article explains the formative impact of yoga performance and solitary practice in making Iyengar a great posture master and teacher, and—more importantly—examines the anatomy of Iyengar’s character and tutelage under Krishnamacharya carefully, drawing conclusions as to their implications for Iyengar’s work and the nature of yoga worldwide.

This document is also available by special arrangement for licensed use in Teacher Training Manuals for $108.

Click the image above for a preview of the first page.

Additional Information

Length

Forty-three (43) Pages

3 reviews for Seizing the Whip: B. K. S. Iyengar and the Making of Modern Yoga

  1. 5 out of 5

    :

    “Eric Shaw has pulled back the veil on the strangest open secret of modern yoga: that one of its key evangelists — arguably the reason there is global yoga at all — learned his art under abusive duress, and communicated his genius to the world through unhealed wounds. Shaw’s exposition has grave implications for every practitioner who feels that modern yoga confers therapy uncomplicated by power dynamics, or transcendence uncomplicated by trauma.”

    Author of Yoga 2.0, Threads of Yoga, Studying Ayurveda, Family Wakes Us Up: Letters Between Expectant Fathers, and Dying for Veronica

  2. 5 out of 5

    :

    On the dedicated webpage I create for all of my teaching events, I always provide a link to Eric Shaw’s revelatory paper “Seizing the Whip – BKS Iyengar and the Making of Modern Yoga.” By recommending Eric’s groundbreaking work to my students, I am encouraging them to challenge some of the most cherished myths about the origins of contemporary yoga practice.

    The poignant, heart-rending and ultimately inspiring story Eric has meticulously assembled is one that desperately needed to be told and should be considered required reading for anyone who values a version of yoga that cultivates authentic depth and honesty.

  3. 5 out of 5

    :

    Eric Shaw has written an enormously valuable – and unique – contribution to the important field of research into the recent history of hatha yoga, and its path of popularization as it has grown into the global phenomenon that it is now.

    It is a very human story, a story of an extraordinarily vulnerable person living under inhuman circumstances and growing into his own.

    At this point in the maturation of Modern Yoga, it is important to demythologize the teachers who have shaped (and even fashioned) the practice, to lay bare the very deep humanity of its evolution. Only then can we more fully appreciate the practice for what it is — and can be.

    Just as early yoga developed in response to the problem of human suffering, modern yoga was fashioned by many in often desperate circumstances (sometimes the ‘quiet desperation’ of wanting a life other than one of disappearing into the soul-less grind of civil service and bureaucratic work in early 20th century India).

    Iyengar’s case was unique for its isolation, which becomes clear from Mr. Shaw’s essay.

    Iyengar’s isolation in fact makes his contribution all the more amazing for the deep work of inner exploration he made under the enormously severe circumstances of an admittedly tyrannical (and quite unhelpful) teacher.

    This isolation also bred a fanaticism about practice borne of that desperation. As Mr. Shaw writes, “The profound understanding of the minutia of posework that he attained was more systematic, complex and empirical than anything taught by members of the Hatha Yoga Renaissance of the first part of the 20th Century.”

    At the same time, “Trauma partly drove Iyengar to his uncanny bodily understanding.”

    On the one hand, one wonders if his insight and innovation would have been as deep under less painful circumstances and privation; on the other hand, as Mr. Shaw wonders, “I cannot help wondering whether the Iyengar tradition and— by extension—the larger modern yoga project would not have been even more advanced by Iyengar’s genius if he had resolved the conditioning that had devolved upon him by life with Krishnmacharya.”

    The relationship to Krishnamacharya that was a catalyst for Mr. Iyengar’s growth exemplifies a power dynamic in human relations that is all too familiar, and not unique to yoga. In facr, the theme that is the source of the title to Mr. Shaw’s essay is taken from Kafka, who wrote, “The animal wrests the whip from its master and lashes itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the master’s whip.”

    Iyengar’s true mastery did not come from taking up his teacher’s “whip” and imposing it upon others as he did to himself, simply adding another ‘knot’ to the whip — though this is what people coming into power so often do.

    In Iyengar’s teaching, it was not only the violence and abusiveness of Krishnamacharya’s method that carried over; it was his own sense of profound isolation at the heart of his personal circumstances that was communicated — a culture of insularity by which a ‘true’ student studies in Iyengar’s style alone, and does not mix with others. (In my own workshops, I have occasionally had Iyengar teachers confide in me that they were ‘sneaking’ into my workshop, and couldn’t let other Iyengar teachers in their community know of it.)

    It is important to be aware of this dynamic of “introjecting” the teacher under whom he suffered (thus ‘seizing the whip’) in the way that Mr. Shaw describes it, because in our own process of learning we must ourselves develop the discrimination (viveka) to know what to imbibe from the teacher, and what to set aside. This takes place with every generation of learning, and with every generation in the evolution of yoga (— and it is undeniable that over the millennia, the idea and practice of yoga HAS evolved).
    It does not discount or devalue Mr. Iyengar’s legacy to recognize the need to do so in his case as well. In fact, his contribution shines all the more brightly when the darker side of the trauma that shaped his mature teaching is left aside by those who teach in his name. We may be inspired by the example of such a teacher, but do not need to follow it — and should beware of the ways in which we (unconsciously) do.

    I know for myself I would be no teacher at all if it were not for the path of inner exploration he walked, and communicated to those who took up his teachings.

    I invite you to read Mr. Shaw’s invaluable essay, and appreciate Mr. Iyengar for the fully human being that he was, and the man who did so much to shape Modern Yoga. With insights such as the ones offered by Mr. Shaw, it is up to us to exercise discrimination in appreciating and bringing these contributions forward into the future.

    Doug Keller
    Author of ‘The Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga’ — vols. 1 and 2, ‘The Heart of the Yogi: The Philosophical World of Hatha Yoga,’ and ‘Refining the Breath’

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