Yoga Rockford: A lineage of inspiration

By Jennie Williford
Pranayama Yoga Studio

Looking back at my years of practice and training under senior Iyengar teachers and looking forward to this year’s teachers’ convention, I am reminded of the impact that Iyengar Yoga has had on my being the teacher and student I am today.

Through Iyengar Yoga, I found connection to myself and have been inspired to teach by the example of many who have come before me. I am constantly challenged on every level to teach and practice in a way that lives up to this lineage, beginning with our guru, BKS Iyengar, and his son and daughter, Prahsant and Geeta Iyengar.

For me, the study of Iyengar Yoga has brought inspiration, joy and excitement, which fuel my efforts to be a better practitioner, teacher and person.

The Iyengar Yoga lineage follows India’s more traditional system of yoga teaching and practice, requiring a close connection and intense study between teachers and students. Becoming a Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, then continuing on to further levels of certification, is a life-long commitment that challenges you on every level of being.

At the moment, the Iyengar Yoga system has 14 levels of certification, the last six granted only by the Iyengars themselves to senior-most teachers. Only after years of practice and tutelage under senior teachers, plus two years of study with interest in teaching, the first exam is taken to become a “Teacher in Training.”

Each exam taken by an Iyengar Teacher candidate is held over a weekend and includes a written portion on sequencing, anatomy, philosophy and special needs; a demonstrated practice of all the poses on the syllabus for that level; and a 40-minute class taught to volunteer students, all watched and monitored by senior teachers in the field.

Two years after passing the first exam, the possibility to take a second exam for “Introductory Certification” is available. With the passing of these two exams, you are finally a “Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.”

This process is one that nurtures and supports some of the most avid and intense yoga practitioners and teachers I have ever met. That intensity, in turn, brings the ability to inspire and create change in their students.

When we come to yoga, we want to see results in whatever avenue we have chosen to be there for. We want to be stronger, find flexibility, gain energy, discover the ability to relax, or increase our balance. No matter what, all of those will come with a good practice, but we have to stay on task and be open to change.

When, as students, we get more comfortable with the status quo, when yoga becomes just another thing we do, it is the teacher who must inspire us to continue to take what yoga has to offer, in the classroom and at home, and become a better version of ourselves.

I continue to feel blessed and amazed that I find myself among this group of Iyengar teachers and students. It is a lineage of inspiration I hope to be able to pass on to my students in the same way it has been passed on to me.

Having the opportunity to give the gift of yoga to others is not one to be wasted, and I continue to give thanks to all those teachers of yoga who have come before us and given us this opportunity to practice. Join in the inspiration, and I will see you in class!

For more information about Pranayama Yoga Studio, visit or call (815) 968-9642.

From the April 28-May 4, 2010 issue

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