Category Archives: BKS Iyengar

Free Yoga Class for beginners 19 January

Introduction to Iyengar Yoga for Newcomers


Are you interested in finding out more about yoga?

We invite you to come to this free 60 minute class at Yogawest, as part of the National Iyengar Yoga Day.

Joanna Lambe will guide you through this introductory class. You will learn a few foundation yoga poses, and get a sense of what to expect in a yoga class. Joanna will explain along the way how yoga can benefit you, and there will be a chance to ask questions at the end.

All equipment provided, wear clothing that you can move in, leggings and T-shirt ideal; yoga is a bare foot activity! 

Time 2.30–3.30pm

Level Suitable for all newcomers

Cost Free

Book your place Call us on 0117 924 3330 or email to book your place. Extra places may be available on the day; pre-booking will secure your place!

Christmas Timetable 2018

Classes running over the Festive Season

17 December–2 January

Cxmastreepose-150x150lasses are running every day throughout the holiday period at Yogawest, except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.

Download the Christmas 2018 timetable here

The updated Yogawest timetable resumes on Thursday 3rd January 2019, printed copies will be available to download from the timetable webpage from mid December.
NOTE Check course and termtime start dates online as they may differ: 
Termtime class dates are listed here
Course start dates are listed here

Which classes are running?

Many of our usual classes are still running over the festive period, but as teachers are fewer on the ground, some classes are not on.

Which classes are suitable?

To make things simpler, and to include everyone in our plans, many classes are billed as general level – this means that ALL are welcome, whatever your experience or ability (the teacher will adapt the class accordingly). Beginners are encouraged to general classes: just let the teacher know you are new and they will look after you.

Lizzie’s popular 2-hour class on Thursday morning is open to all levels of students and although it’s usually a ladies class, men are welcome and encouraged during the reduced timetable period. It is taught at intermediate level, but beginners are very welcome to come and see what an intermediate class involves – Lizzie will welcome you!

Who is teaching?

Some of our usual teachers are taking a well-earned break over Christmas, and recharging their batteries for the New Year. All classes are being taught by fully trained Yogawest Iyengar teachers.

Timetable for your fridge

Download the reduced Christmas timetable 2018 here

Join your local Iyengar institute!

A message from Edgar Stringer, Chair of AIYI

I’m writing to you on behalf of the Avon Iyengar Yoga Institute with a request for your support.
Are you aware that for just £20 you can become a member of the AIYI (your local Iyengar Institute), and your membership will include 2 magazines a year from the national association IY (UK) and a members discount to AIYI events.

This is a good time to join (the year starts on 1st April) and it’s a straightforward process on the IY(UK) website link below. New members: just select AIYI as your regional institute and you will join both automatically.

Here’s a link to the AIYI website.

Please also consider joining the AIYI committee.  It is not an onerous task there are just 3 or 4 meetings a year. We really value non-teacher members as well as teachers.

Next Meeting 11th March 2018

Our (AIYI) next meeting is on Sunday 11th March at Yogawest at 6pm which should last for about an hour.
We would love to see you there, and to hear any ideas you might have to help us to continue to promote and develop Iyengar Yoga in our area.
Please let Edgar know if you’re interested in getting involved.Many thanks,
Edgar Stringer (AIYI Chair)

Open Day October 14th

Free Classes, Tea & Cakes and Meet the Teachers

BYT17 logo+date





As part of the Bristol Yoga Trail 2017, Yogawest are opening our doors and offering free classes all day long. We invite you to come along, take a tour of our beautiful building, chat to some teachers and try a taster class or two.

Come at least 10 minutes before the start time so you can register with us and secure your place. Some classes may be busy, and some may fill up before the start time, so do arrive in good time!

Donations to OTR

OTRlogoAlthough all Open Day classes are free, we are collecting donations for OTR – Off The Record, a marvellous Bristol Charity offering mental health support to young people.
Read more about OTR here.


BYT17 5th year banner

Timetable of Free classes
at Yogawest

9.30–10.45 Beginners
11–12.30 General
12.45–1.30 Family (all ages welcome)
2–2.45 Introduction to Yoga: talk and demo
3–4 Newcomers: a class for complete newbies
4–5.15 Restorative class: restful poses focusing on good breathing
5.30–6 Pranayama: an introduction to yogic breathing







We look forward to seeing you then!

Swati Chanchani’s visit next weekend…

Swati Chanchani is on her way!

Swati_2014Swati tells us she has now left Delhi and is on her way to Bristol!

We thought you might like to know in advance that Swati has let us know a few more details about the upcoming weekend. In particular, she has prepared a talk for us on the history of yoga (entitled Strange & Wondrous) which we think will be excellent.


The timings for both days will be as follows:

10am–12:15pm  asana & pranayama

Two hours break

2:15pm–2:45pm  presentation
STRANGE and WONDROUS:  An Illustrated of History of Yoga from Alexander to Iyengar.

2:45–5pm  asana & pranayama

Don’t miss this weekend…

There are still places available for this event, and we’d love to have a few more of you there. Swati is a brilliant teacher, and whether you are a teacher, an experienced student or more general level practitioner*, Swati will ensure a marvellous weekend for all that attend.

* Two years recommended


Whole weekend £140, single days £80.
It will be most beneficial to attend both days with Swati if you can.

Note: we are happy for you to use your Yogacard stamps towards this workshop if you wish.

Concession offer

A few of you have told us you’d love to come to the weekend with Swati but feel the cost is prohibitive. It’s true: this is more expensive than some of our weekends, and the reason is – apart from the fact that she is a world-renowned teacher! – that we are flying Swati to Bristol from India especially for this weekend. We think she is worth it (and are sure you will agree).

However, if you can’t afford to come otherwise, we are offering a few places at a concessionary rate of 20% off. This makes the weekend cost £112 and a single day would be £64. Email Jon or call him on 0117 924 3330 to arrange your place at this lower cost.


Book here or call us on 0117 924 3330 to secure your place.

A word from Zoë

Zoë Reason, who has been teaching at Yogawest over the summer while she’s been in Bristol, is a long term student of Swati’s. We asked her to say a few things about Swati’s teaching:

” I first worked with Swati in 2003 – and I had just one class with her and I remember she taught trikonasana and I can still manifest the feeling of how she adjusted me in it. But it wasn’t till 2007 that I started working regularly with her.

She structures these seemingly incredibly simple classes – and, at the time, they feel straightforward and accessible.  Yes you work hard for her – but it never feels like you’re being overly challenged (until the following day).  And then you come to write your notes and you realise how many layers of teaching she’s introduced you to.  And then you practice a class she’s taught and you realise the layers are in your body and your psyche and at some very deep cellular level.  She teaches principles in asana work – unlike some teachers where there’s a new technique or trick to something – so you come away with an understanding that can be applied across all asanas – from the simple poses to the complicated ones. So she really inspires and feeds one’s personal practice.

She has extraordinarily strong group skills (all those years of teaching school children) and she works fast but profoundly.  I often come away from her classes so impressed with her cleverness – in the way she sequences or gets me to understand the links between one asana and another.  The thing that I have come to appreciate more and more about her is how she weaves really subtle philosophical teaching into the straightforwardness of her asana teaching.

One of the things that I first loved about her is how often she would start a class with a story.  And the stories contextualise the why of doing yoga. In the last year many of her stories have been about BKS Iyengar – she was very young when she first met him and she became a dedicated student very quickly.  And in her stories about him I can hear not just how very very sad she is that he’s not with us anymore, but more importantly how much joy there is in that she had such gifts from him over such an extended amount of time.  In her telling of the stories what I think she does it to connect you to your own story about why it is that you do yoga and what yoga really could be about.  She’s an emotional teacher – not in the sense that she behaves emotionally – but because she sees yoga as being an emotional endeavour.  So her teaching is full of heart. “

Read more 


International Day of Yoga June 21

international-yoga-day-logo-210x236June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In India, the first full moon after the Summer Solstice is known as Guru Purnima where the Guru or teacher is honored. According to yoga legend, the first transmission of yoga by Shiva (the first Guru) is said to have begun on this day.

The United Nations has declared June 21st as International Day of Yoga, following a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and with nature.

Yogawest is open as usual on Sunday (and as it’s also Fathers Day, we are expecting a bumper crowd of Dads coming to classes during the day!). Sam is teaching her 10am general class and her 11.45am intermediate class; Diana is teaching the Sunday evening general class at 6pm.

It’ll be worth making it to class on Sunday if you can: the knowledge that many thousands of yogis around the world will be practising at the same time will lend a special something to the energy of the classes.
IYNAUS1034_YopaDay_poster_F.inddIf you can’t make it, then you may be interested to see the sequence that Geeta Iyengar has suggested… you could choose elements (or all!) of this and practice at home instead. Sunday coincides with the Iyengar convention in Exeter this weekend, and many of our teachers and students will be there following this sequence led by Birjoo Mehta from Mumbai.

Download poster from IYNAUS (US Iyengar Association) showing poses in silhouette: IYNAUS-Intl-Yoga-Day-2015

Download list of  Geeta Iyengar’s suggested sequence


Making Yoga an Exercise in Democracy

JUNE 10, 2015

NEW DELHI — India has persuaded the world to dedicate a day to remember what the world does not wish to forget on other days anyway: that yoga is the gift of an ancient civilization that once lived in India — and in Pakistan, too, if you wish to annoy the Indians.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose known yogic skill is limited to one elementary pose, nudged the United Nations, most of the world united in marking June 21 as the first International Yoga Day.

Despite India’s claim over yoga, it is not a mainstream household practice here. It probably never was. And its modern resurgence in some niches, like schools and affluent urban quarters, is not a continuation of an ancient legacy, but a part of an escalating global movement. Yoga had to wait until India transformed itself into a more equal society to seep into places it had never been permitted to go.

For a long time, yoga was the preserve of the highest-caste men, and what belonged to them usually did not percolate down. But then, about seven decades ago, one of them chose to commit a heresy. He began to teach not only Indian men who were not Brahmins, but women as well, and, later, foreigners.

A strict teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar sometimes hit his adult students. Once, when a couple brought a dazed boy to him, and the boy said that he was dazed because he had achieved spiritual enlightenment, Mr. Iyengar gave him a tight slap and cured him. When foreign female disciples expressed an interest in him, he wrote in his book “Light on Life,” “My flashing eyebrows and fierce glare came to my rescue.” And, when the Vatican approached him to teach yoga to the pope in secrecy he agreed, but on the condition that if someone asked him whether the news were true, he would not lie. The Vatican withdrew the request.

Mr. Iyengar — who died last year at the age of 95, surprising many with his mortality — was largely responsible for liberating yoga from men like himself and creating the circumstances for it to infect the world and in the process win the adoration of Indians.

When he was learning yoga in the India of the time, he wrote, “I can assure you that spiritual democracy did not exist.” The great gurus were secretive and parsimonious with what they let out. Things got worse for him when he began to teach. In 1954, after returning from his first teaching trip outside India, he stopped by the house of a maternal uncle in Bangalore, but he was not allowed in. A Hindu was forbidden to cross the sea, so he had become impure. And, since he was teaching women, “It was generally assumed I was guilty of immorality.” So he got married.

Yoga is today the preserve of women, and there is an ever-failing campaign to lure men to the exercise. In January, in Goa, I went to meet Patrick Broome, the yoga coach of the German soccer team that won the 2014 World Cup. He told me that many players on the squad were embarrassed to be seen doing yoga, because they thought it was feminine.

“Some liked it, some didn’t care,” he said. “Some needed an excuse to come to the yoga studio. So they made it look like an accident that they had landed in the yoga class, as though they were searching for the gym and had got lost.”

Mr. Broome’s favorite Iyengar quote is: “How can you know God if you don’t know your own big toe?” A great yoga teacher is, inevitably, philosophical, and Mr. Iyengar probed the mind as much he did the body. He defined “action” as “movement with intelligence.” And he believed that ultimate liberation is built on “a thousand little freedoms.” “Freedom,” he wrote, “is gained incrementally and over time.” He often claimed that yoga had nothing to do with Hinduism.

It is also India’s claim as it begins to take charge of International Yoga Day. It is hard to accept or dispute the view and still make sense. What is true, though, is that most of Hinduism has nothing to do with religion, and yoga is a part of that which is not magic.

Follow Manu Joseph, author of the novel “The Illicit Happiness of Other People,” on Twitter at @manujosephsan.

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Bobby Clennell’s tribute to Guruji

My Journey with Guruji: Lessons and Reflections From 40 Years of Practice with B.K.S. Iyengar – by Bobby Clennell

Article from YogaDork

B.K.S. Iyengar still from the filming of Sadhaka.

B.K.S. Iyengar still from the filming of Sadhaka.

by Bobby Clennell

I have practiced Iyengar yoga for 41 years, although my practice was sporadic in the early days. My husband Lindsey and I made our first journey to Pune in 1976 to study with B.K.S. Iyengar 39 years ago. I have made that journey, mostly with Lindsey around 23 times.

When I first started doing yoga I was completely unaware of any other methods. A friend recommended I try a yoga class and bang, I was hooked from the word go. All I knew was, when I practiced, it made me feel good and I became better able as a young, working mother, to deal with the demands of life.

Two years after first walking into the church hall where the class was conducted, we made the journey to Pune to study with B.K.S. Iyengar. It never occurred to me to look for another teacher. Even with my limited experience, I instinctively knew I should stay close to this teacher and his family.

Guruji’s teaching style was uniquely his own. Fiery, demanding, precise, and with spot-on delivery – whatever he was saying, you got it. But his apparently stern exterior belied his compassionate center. He knew that if he appeared ‘soft’, progress would be slow and “the pupil tends to take it easy.” He understood the physical body in the way a professional anatomist would (Iyengar teachers are expected to have a similar understanding), and alignment is all.

Guruji had a phenomenal ability to “see” people. When he taught he was tremendously expressive and poetic, and this is perhaps what I will miss the most. But it was his super sharp intellect, his yogi’s heart and his unwavering sense of service to others that made him a Master.

Before I met B.K.S. Iyengar, I imagined that a Guru would be a bit like Santa Clause. Softly spoken, he would gaze lovingly into my eyes and pat me on the head gently. Then miraculously, all my troubles would melt away. On my second trip to Pune I walked through the gates of The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune, and Guruji happened to be standing there on the pathway. He clipped me round the ear with the palm of his hand and said “Ah good! I see you have put on weight”. Just one year earlier, it was a way too thin and fearful young woman who had walked through those gates. Now, with my newfound confidence born from my newfound yoga practice, I was physically stronger and emotionally more stable.

Thanks to Yehudi Menuhin, who was one of the first Westerners to study the method, Iyengar yoga took root first in the UK. It was the approved yoga method, taught in school halls across London. In fact, Lindsey taught some of these “evening classes” in his spare time. The Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) welcomed B.K.S. Iyengar’s yoga provided there was no hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo (or Indian philosophy). So Guruji’s yoga in those days was influenced in part by ILEA regulations. Unlike other “methods,” which talked about Chakras and the like, Iyengar yoga was grounded in the physical. It was practical, down to earth, and systematic, and somewhat of an antidote to the hippy culture that was beginning to wind down when I came upon yoga in the mid 70s.

B.K.S. Iyengar, illustration by Bobby Clennell

B.K.S. Iyengar, illustration by Bobby Clennell

In 1988, during Guruji’s 70th birthday intensive, yoga therapeutics became a little clearer for those of us who were in Pune that year. Guruji’s son, Prashant, had prepared and pinned to the wall a series of photographs entitled, “Props And Ailments.” The medical classes at RIMYI now held five times a week are full of people suffering from various disorders. They are also a fertile training ground for the senior teachers. We are taught “on our feet” by the Iyengar family to take patients through specially prescribed (and propped) sequences. Those “Props and Ailments” photos were crude in comparison to what Guruji knew, but they really helped us teachers to get a handle on the subject.

B.K.S. Iyengar explained the major benefit of props as being neurological control. “Neurology” he said “is the hub of the life force.” You can use props in a way that doesn’t over exert or jangle the nerves. On the contrary, working with a prop can strengthen and calm the nerves. A table or trestle or even a wall can support and hold the body securely so that the energy needed to explore a particular extension or opening can be freed up. In this way, props can support and stabilize the outer body without restricting the freedom of movement of the organic body.

As we begin to wake up to the limitations of allopathic medicine, only time will tell how significant his work is and how valuable it will be for humanity.

B.K.S. Iyengar also introduced props to make yoga attractive and more accessible. He was known to be a hard taskmaster, often too hard for the public at large. The tireless determination needed to practice Iyengar yoga was too much for all but the strongest and most dedicated student.

Prop use continues to evolve to the present day. (Don’t ever go to Pune, expecting the teaching to remain exactly the same as it was the last time you were there).

In December 1993 in Panchgani, Yogacharya, B.K.S. Iyengar conducted a ten- day workshop as part of his 75th birthday celebrations. One hundred teachers from around the world attended this special event. This intensive marked a turning point in Guruji’s teaching. The demands he now made on our powers of observation reflected his own ever-evolving practice. While previously much of his teaching was based on the tangible – muscles, joints, and bones – Guruji took us beyond the outer, physical layers of the body to what he called the hidden body or the subtle body. As one of Guruji’s Indian students Sam Moltivala (now deceased) remarked in one of the classes, “everything seems to be new.”

We were guided by Guruji to incorporate the subtler aspects of our being into our practice and into our teaching. We were introduced to the elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air and ether, which then served as a guide to deeper layers of consciousness. Asana, far from being only a physical pursuit, became a stepping-stone on the path, so clearly defined by Patanjali, to experience the universal divine within us. BKS Iyengar’s yoga was (and still is) based on his developed understanding of the body, but now it was securely rooted in the subtle body as mapped out by the Vedic seers of ancient times. Guruji taught us that yoga requires intellectual reflection and skillful actions to unite the physical body with the intelligence.

It was during my second trip that we found ourselves taking part in a class of about 9 students. Looking back on these times, I realized how lucky we were! It was in one of those small classes I learned the balancings, or bird poses (Bhakasana, Parsva Bhakasana etc.). There was something special about BKS Iyengar’s teaching. When Guruji lead a class, you never forgot what he taught you. He had a way of making you go further, achieving things you never would have done on your own. At age 71, I can still do the “balancings” and it has, I am sure, something to do with the imprint of that long ago class that is sparked every time I do them.


Bobby Clennell in Peacock Pose.

On another occasion I was lucky enough to experience some one-on-one teaching from Guruji. One morning during the practice session, after having dropped back to a bench from Pincha Myorasana (Peacock Pose, also known as Elbow Balance) I was attempting to flip back to standing. I didn’t realize that he was behind me hanging upside down on the ropes. Suddenly, a disembodied voice that seemed to come from the bowels of the earth said “If I had been practicing yoga the way you have been practicing yoga all these years, where do you think I would be today”? Shocked and embarrassed that he had been watching me, I replied that if he had been practicing the way I had been practicing all these years, where would we all be today? That did it! Laughing and still hanging upside down, he began issuing instructions. Get the smaller bench! Place it against that pillar! Fold the mat just so! Then he got down from his perch and my private lesson began in earnest. The experience contained within it so much more than the physical points of asana. And he was having so much fun! As for me, I was on the edge of the moment, in equal parts terrified and exhilarated, being stretched mentally and physically beyond my usual unconscious boundaries.

Guruji moved us out of our comfort zones in class. But one-on-one with him was intense; there was no escape from the voice inside your head telling you that you couldn’t do it.

In recent times I returned every year, just to be around him.

Right now, we are in transition. A great master has passed. Suspended in time between the past and the future, we think about his legacy. It is hard to believe that B.K.S. Iyengar is no longer with us. Knowing that he was still at the helm of Iyengar Yoga worldwide in Pune, practicing every day alongside of his students, answering every letter personally, making himself available to all, so humble, yet such a giant of a man, connected us to the source of the method, gave us a sense of security, and provided a grounding force.

B.K.S. Iyengar was truly an incredible human being. His influence extended well beyond the teachers and students of Yoga throughout the world who were able to study with him either directly or indirectly. There was before B.K.S. Iyengar, and there was (and is) after B.K.S. Iyengar and there is no comparison between the two.

Truly he gave much more than he took from this world. His creation of a progressive and smart teacher training program, upon which he had such strong uncompromising grip, will ensure the continuation of Iyengar Yoga for years to come. His son Prashant and daughter Geeta have been teaching for many years. In fact there are several generations of teachers and students who, never having ever been taught by Mr. Iyengar, flock to Pune to be taught by their Guru’s, Prashant and Geeta.

As for the future? I recently attended a convention in Northern England taught by Mr. Iyengar’s granddaughter, Abhyjata Iyengar. It was the first of five she was teaching throughout Europe. Her devotion to her grandfather was obvious. Her teaching was clear with the strong Iyengar delivery, which runs in the blood. Most mornings in the practice sessions at RIMYI, Guruji would practice and somehow at the same time, teach the most receptive person in the room – his granddaughter, Abhyjata.

To the degree that we practice, Guruji will continue to live on – in all of our hearts, in the cells of our bodies, in the lift of our knee caps, in the strength of our legs and nervous systems, in the stability of our emotions, and in our collective balance and equilibrium. I feel so grateful to have known him and so grateful for his fierce conviction, his purity and his wisdom.

Now it’s up to us.


“It is my profound hope that my end
can be your beginning.” B.K.S. Iyengar. August 2014


Bobby Clennell is a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher residing in NYC. She is the author and illustrator of The Woman’s Yoga Book and the children’s book, Watch Me Do Yoga. For more about Bobby, see her website, and follow her on twitter@bobbyclennell.

Bobby Clennell is teaching her next series of workshops for Yogawest on May 7-10th 2015.

Dedication to BKS Iyengar Thursday August 28th 8.30pm

You are invited to …

A communal dedication to Guruji tomorrow evening at 8.30pm.

BKSAlong with similar tributes in the United States, Iyengar yoga practitioners in the UK and Ireland are invited to take part in a communal dedication to the memory of our Guru, BKS Iyengar, on Thursday (28th August) at 8.30pm.

Yogawest will be open at 8.30pm and all our students and friends are welcome to come and practise together for around half an hour. The same sequence will be done throughout the UK and Ireland at the same time in other studios and practice spaces.

Lizzie will be teaching her 7–8.30pm class as normal, although she plans to finish 5 mins early so we can filter in to start the group practice at 8.30pm. Lizzie has kindly offered to guide the practice.

Should you not be able to attend, here is the list of asanas (as illustrated by Bobby Clennell). We ask you to hold Guruji in your heart as you practise.

bks-iyengar-memorial-sequence-964x367Tadasana – 3 minutes
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Utthita Trikonasana to the right and to the left
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Tadasana – 3 minutes
5 minutes seated quietly

We hope to see you here tomorrow.

Farewell To Guruji

by Indira Lopez-Bassols

BKSIyengarOverseeing the vastness of the Mexican Pacific Ocean, I am left with a sense of grief and disbelief.  How could Guruji (BKS Iyengar) our beloved teacher die?

I had hoped in the silence of my heart that something unexplainable would happen and keep him alive forever and ever, like a yoga pose –asana- out of time.  I never allowed myself to accept that death would knock at his door.

My story about Guruji began in 1996 in London with a set of innocent coincidences.  Guruji found me in a bookstore during the darkest time of my life (and later saved me), as I stumbled across his masterpieceLight on Yoga.  How could this small man much older than me do all these pretzel asanas so gracefully?  For the new few days and months, I self taught myself some asanas, following his sequences and trying to replicate to the best of my ability the LOY pictures.  And there I stood in a crossroads: How could something so simple make me feel better and lighter in body, mind and soul each time I practiced?  I went back home to Mexico and the second coincidence was that I came across –fate being on my side again- with the only Iyengar trained teacher in my country.  I studied with Herta Rogg for close to a decade.

I was hooked and transformed, and today I can say with no doubt that Iyengar yoga has re-shaped me into who I am becoming.  Luck again on my side, I came to meet my Guruji at the Institute in Pune on two occasions and through a series of letters that we exchanged over a few years that I will cherish forever.

Some people say there are no coincidences in life.  If we follow and listen to our heart attentively we follow our life mission Darma in Sanskrit.

I feel uniquely blessed by all these life choices I have followed, but today I feel saddened by the vast feeling of loss.

May you live forever through our practice, search and understanding of yoga.

May you rest in peace Guruji.