A room of students in Adho Mukha Svanasana

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Pixie Lillas Iyengar Yoga Weekend Workshop 2024

On a very hot, Labour Day weekend in Melbourne, yoga students gathered at YYC from across the city and beyond, to attend a workshop with Pixie Lillas Iyengar Yoga Teacher from Balmain Studio in Sydney. Her first visit since 2017.

Pixie is one of Australia’s pioneer Iyengar Yoga Teachers and Assessors and continues to be a leading light in the Australian Iyengar Yoga community.

Pixie channels the original teachings of BKS Iyengar, from her visits to RIMYI since 1970’s, and those of Geeta Iyengar and Prashant Iyengar in later years.

About the workshops

Friday and Saturday afternoons were dedicated to restorative practice, staying longer in supported poses that opened the chest, enhancing breath awareness, and replenishing depleted energy.

Saturday and Sunday mornings were more dynamic asana classes involving standing poses, forward bends, backbends and inversions. Starting on the mat with a question; “What am I working with today?”

Working from the foundation of the pose through feet and ankles, legs and hips, standing poses were done with a brick between thighs to activate outer thighs and hips, and back foot to the wall to extend the full length of the spine by pressing into outer edge of the foot and heel. Head stand (salamba sirsasana) with leg variations, preceded a series of forward bends,practiced with emphasis on extension of front and sides of torso. Then shoulder stand(salamba sarvangasana) with leg variations concluded the sequence.

Back bends were practiced with several repetitions, preceded by full arm balance (adhomukha vrksasana), forearm balance (pinchamayurasana), head stand (salamba sirsasana). Then practice included salabhasana (locust), dhanurasana (bow), ustrasana (camel) and urdhva dhanurasana (bridge)- standing and leaning back over a chair, fingers to wall, and pushing up from the floor hands on bricks to get maximum lift and chest opening.

Afternoon Tea with Pixie

Pixie shared her own biography of life-long yoga practice and teaching during an informal afternoon tea session, where students had the chance to ask questions and learn about the early days of visiting RIMYI in Pune.

Mr. Iyengar was described as strong, uncompromising and totally dedicated to the practice and teaching of yoga. He had a passion for demonstrating and explaining poses clearly so that students could catch what he said. Not only the shape of a pose, but the feeling inherent in the experience of the pose. He would adjust students into Kapottansana” for example and say …there, now you have tasted it, you must find you’re way there again in your own practice….

Geeta Iyengar was said to break down the instructions into progressive stages for learning how to get into, hold, and come out of a pose. Her teaching complimented BKS and supported women in their maternal and menstrual cycles.

Mr. Iyengar would present the pose, always teaching in English, though he spoke Tamil and Maharathi. He, therefore, chose his words carefully to be clear and concise and this remains a key element in Iyengar teacher training. This appealed to Pixie, who worked as a translator, and understood the importance of choosing the right words to convey meaning.

Teacher Training

Sunday afternoon Teacher Training session emphasised this point, and presented a discussion around the clarity of words and the clarity of touch in making adjustments on students. Teachers and trainees were given the opportunity to practice hands on adjustments with each other.

The Iyengar yoga teaching method emphasises both attention to detail and exploration and enquiry in your practice. Pixie personifies this in her teaching and students were privileged to experience this first- hand.

by Geraldine Morey

Photos from the Weekend