A Corporate Metaphor for Understanding Yoga
Every three years the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) holds a convention for teachers and/or practitioners, and this year’s convention took place in San Diego for five days in May. Attendees were fortunate to study with Birjoo Mehta, a Senior teacher from Mumbai, India and longtime student of BKS Iyengar. He offered a delightful corporate metaphor, drawn from his background as an engineer, to help place Iyengar yoga within a broad yoga philosophy.
Borrowing from a corporate model, he suggested that we view yoga as beginning with a vision, similar to the overarching philosophical purpose of a corporate entity. In yoga, the purpose is to know the non-transient Self. This Self is considered to be permanent and universal, and in some explanations is referred to as divine. Our individual selves are thought to participate, so to speak, in this unchanging Self, to be constituted in part by this universal and non-transient Self.
To bring its vision into the world, yoga has a mission, similar to the mission that a corporation develops for it’s vision. The eight-limbed path of yoga is the mission that supports the vision of knowing the non-transient Self.
The values that guide the mission — again, just like a company defines the values that underlie its mission — are the yamas (ethical principles) and niyamas (personal practices), which are the first and second limbs of yoga.
Birjoo Mehta went on to say that the strategy for achieving the vision and mission, according to certain values, of yoga is asana practice, or the physical postures as described in Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar and Yoga: A Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar.
The metaphor concludes with the idea that the tactics that belong to the strategy, and that are uniquely developed by the Iyengar yoga system, are alignment, sequencing, timing, and the breath.
This metaphor gives us a comprehensive way of placing Iyengar yoga within a larger perspective on yoga.
Barbara Steif has been inspired by the balance, clarity and wisdom of Iyengar yoga 29 years, teaching for 13 of those years. She completed her teacher training and apprenticeship with Julie Lawrence. She is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor at the Introductory II level. She brings aliveness, warmth, and depth of understanding to her teaching.