Learning to Listen

Apr 15, 2021


When I attended the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India in August 2000, most of the classes were taught by Geeta and Prashant Iyengar.

BKS Iyengar was also there most days, doing his own practice in the back of the room. In almost every class he would step in and teach for a little while.

One day, while he was instructing Triangle pose, he yelled across the room an instruction that was meant for me. It was about adjusting my left foot, but I didn’t catch it. He then came over, stood on my mat and said to me,

“You want to learn yoga, but you don’t even know how to listen!”

And so began my ongoing inquiry into the relationship between listening, learning, and yoga. 

Listening to others means paying attention, giving up your agenda, being available to receive another’s words. True listening is a generous act. We give the other person the gift of our presence.

Turned inward, listening requires that you get quiet. It means slowing down enough to hear the inner voice that is whispering to you all the time through your body, your feelings, and your intuition. 

Listening in yoga is about engaging in a dialogue with your own awakened consciousness. When you’re able to listen you can begin to access the depth that asana practice has to offer you.

Right now, as each of us slowly emerge from the uncertainty and tumult of the past year it strikes me that listening to ourselves is essential.

This is a moment to be attentive to what your inner voice has to say about what wants to be created, restored, and relinquished.  

Listening is not only a kind and compassionate act, it’s the only way to make conscious choices about how we wish to move forward. 




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