“You shouldn’t be here,” BKS Iyengar muttered bluntly. My heart sank. Welcome to Iyengar yoga.
It was nine AM , January 2, 1984. Geeta Iyengar had read through our medical forms with a bare-chested, BKS Iyengar looking over her shoulder, hands on his hips. My first impression was that Guruji was… short.
[Left to right: Sharat Arora (back to camera); unknown student in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana; BKS Iyengar. Photo by Bruce Roger: RIMYI, Pune, July 1986]
Guruji, noting my sciatica, had pulled me out of our intensive group and put me in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, with my heel up on the Trestler. He looped a rope around the root of my thigh, and put a weight on it. When that wasn’t enough, he stood on it. It was painful but I said nothing. He was intense and put everything on the line, unlike yoga in the U.S.
I was suffering not only from sciatica, but also from the exhausting two-day journey, jet-lag, and culture shock. The farthest I had ever been from home was Mexico.
I had arrived two nights before. The Bombay airport was hot, dirty, noisy, and very crowded — at three in the morning. A quarter of a century later, my twenty-year-old daughter Sara innocently asked, after exiting the same — but now air conditioned — immigration hall, “What are all these people doing here?” I laughingly responded, “Welcome to India!”
[Sara Swaty Roger (left); Bruce Roger (right). Photo by Sara Swaty Roger: Pune, July 2009]
2012 Bruce M. Roger