by guest blogger Holly Walck, Iyengar yoga practitioner and teacher in Bethlehem, PA and Istanbul, Turkey
I have spent the past 15 years, just a little less than half my life, studying and teaching Iyengar yoga. So when I learned that BKS Iyengar, our Guruji and the most influential yoga master of our time was, at 93-years old, going to take part in the China-India Yoga Summit and personally teach a three-day yoga course, I didn’t hesitate to register and book a flight to Guangzhou, China. Why not? Since I’ve been living and teaching Iyengar Yoga in Istanbul, Turkey, it is only another 10-hour flight away from home, right?
Wait! How did I go from being a small-town girl, raised in a Catholic family, who attended Catholic school all the way through college, and earned a bachelor’s in nursing, to becoming a yoga teacher who moved to Istanbul, and is now at a yoga summit 8,040 miles away from her home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?
The answer, I believe, is “kismet,” a Turkish word meaning fate or destiny. I was fated to go into a store one cold, grey winter day back in 1997 and discover a Yoga for Beginners VHS tape with a picture of a woman on the cover. Her feet and legs were firmly rooted to the earth, her chest was wide open and lifted up to the sky, and her eyes were soft and quietly smiling. I will always remember my next thought, which was, “I want to FEEL how she LOOKS.” That day was an auspicious one. I took the video home, read every single word in the guidebook that came with it, and embarked on a journey that would alter the course of the life I had planned for myself. And put me on the path for which I was intended.
The woman on the cover of the video was Patricia Walden, and she is now my teacher. For more than 35 years she has been a devoted student of Mr. Iyengar, and as one of his most highly certified teachers in the world, she is in Guangzhou to assist him. The theme for his teachings at the summit is “Inheritance. Connection. Communion.” Guruji received his yoga inheritance from his teacher, Patricia received her inheritance from him, I received mine from her, and now, directly from him as well. While it was my destiny to become a yogini, and for my inheritance to be an Iyengar yoga teacher, I now have a responsibility to take my connection to all of the teachers who have come before me and communicate it to the students whose destiny it will be to become my student, and so on and so on, and so on….
In his book Light on Life (Rodale, 2005), Mr. Iyengar writes that yoga is an inward journey in which we explore the relationship between the earth, which is finite, and the sky, which is infinite. Or, in yogic terms, between Nature and the Soul. He closes the preface with these words, “It is my profound hope that my end may become your beginning,” summing up the eternal inheritance of the teacher to the student, the connection of the individual to the cosmic, and the responsibility we have to be in communion with one another and with future generations.
Time is precious, live fully and wholeheartedly.
Yours in Yoga,
Holly Walck has been Maria’s yoga teacher for four years, and they have learned about life and yoga together along the way. A devoted practitioner for 15 years, and a teacher for the past 10, Holly shares with her students the health and joy that is their yogic inheritance.