All classes begin here with three Om's and chanting the Ode to Patanjali. Most Iyengar students are familiar with this traditional way to begin a class to honor Patanjali, the father of yoga. Patanjali was a sage who brought the knowledge of yoga, ayurveda, and grammar to humanity. Actually he's the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of yoga. For me the meaning of this chanting is to honor my teachers and my teachers' teachers all the way back through the generations to Patanjali.
My first teacher was Mary Dunn. Mary encouraged me to become a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and I did much of my teacher training with her. She was among the very first Western students to study with Iyengar in the early 70's. Mary was a deeply beautiful, vibrant, generous human being. She passed away in 2008 from peritoneal cancer at the age of 66. Often when I look at Guruji I think of Mary.
This morning I was in the Institute office looking at the hundreds of statues, plates and citations given to honor B.K.S. Iyengar. I turned around and there he was sitting alone at a desk on the other side of the room.
I walked over to him and spoke. "Guruji, Mary Dunn was my teacher and she spoke of you with such deep love and respect." His face lit up and he responded, "Mary Dunn. A great woman. A wonderful woman. She is gone now. Gone.....with God."
Then I told him how grateful I was to be able to be at the Institute and take classes from him. With palms folded, I thanked him.
A beautiful smile.