Continued conversation with Prashant Iyengar

Issue Sixty Four | November 2019

“As a fire blazes brightly when the covering of ash over it is scattered by the wind, the divine fire within the body shines in all its majesty when the ashes of desire are scattered by the practice of pranayama.”

–Geeta Iyengar


Alexandra Carilli

“If you don’t know about Prashant I’d like to say his gift is clear. He is a walking, talking anthology of ancient wisdom with a wonderfully witty sense of humor. He is our in-house philosopher. Understanding his teaching precepts takes time. His way of transmitting classical yoga seeps into you drop by drop. At first what is confusing later starts reforming your ideas. If his precepts touch you, they will carve and shape you from the inside with a profound, sanctified, rarified and unlimited breath. His classes are radically different.

“In the end, it was an absolute pleasure to do this interview. One Saturday afternoon in October 2018 I went to RIMYI with my friend Jennie Willford and we sat with Prashant and talked for about 90 minutes. He was serious and good-natured and, of course, made us laugh. I asked my questions and we enjoyed the ride. I hope you do too.”

–Alexandra Carilli

Prashant Interview

October 13, 2018
By CIYT Alexandra Carilli
Fifth and Sixth Questions

AC: So someone can become a more balanced practitioner of yog just by considering their approach to asana. I was wondering if you mean that a person needs to devote more time to pranayama, or to devote more attention to living the yamas and niyamas, etc.

PI: True. But circumspection will tell you what the scheme is for you. Circumspection will tell you perhaps you need to study more books than she reads and studies, or less than she reads and studies. You will get all those guidelines within yourself. You will find out whether you need more asana or more pranayama, and in which condition more asana, and in which condition more pranayama.

Suppose you are in your own country and you know it has a particular kind of climate and you know the seasons of the years. Then suppose you come to a tropical country. You are not used to the summer in India. If you are in India during the summer you will have to change the proportion. So that prudence will come. You will adapt to the conditions which come to you in life. Now this is about climate. There is a big difference, because people always want to come to India in winter only. People don’t want to come in summer, because it’s 115 degrees here. Therefore, the conduct of life in somebody is totally different. What one should do more in summer and what one should do more in winter are two different things. That’s about the climate, which you know is going to change. This month it will be winter and that month it will be summer.

What about life conditions? Nothing is foreseen. You don’t foresee what is tomorrow, what is happening the next moment, or what is happening two hours hereafter. What news will be broken to you after two hours. You have no idea what will happen in life. So yoga will keep you prepared because you are working on your own body, mind, breath interactions. You start managing them, you start regulating them, you start constituting them. So then you will be spontaneously adapting to any condition that comes in life. You don’t have to go for preparatory training, to get prepared for what is going to happen tomorrow. You don’t know what is happening tomorrow, so how can you get prepared. You will always be prepared if you are in yoga because you will be dealing with the body and mind in different phases and different conditions. You will have gone through the training, and this training will be good in life. So through circumspection somebody will decide if one has to do more of pranayama or if one has to do more of asanas.

AC: So you also learn how to trust yourself in a sense. For instance the Bhagavad Gita says the body is tamasic, so naturally it will not want to do so much asana.

PI: That’s why you have to go to the kneaded conditions. Tea leaves are very bitter, but to consume them, you put them in a beverage, a hot beverage like tea. Then it doesn’t bother you. It gives you taste. So similarly the body is tamasic, an isolated condition of the body. You are not supposed to deal with isolated conditions of the body and mind in yoga. When you bring them together, their chemical properties change. Then the tamasic nature is not a problem. If you consider isolated conditions, the body is tamasic and the mind is rajasic. In associated conditions that won’t be the case. As a simple example, when we are in a social condition, we are all very decent people. Then when you are not in a social condition, you will understand what is your indecency. All of us are fighting for private space. I want my own space. Why do you ask for space? You have certain indecencies and that’s why you want that private space. This is the major consideration when we are fighting for private space in our lives in the modern world. That is so important that each one of us must have private space. What are you doing with your private space? If you are in yoga, that is private space, but there you are more decent. So when people are around you, you are more decent. Bring body, mind, breath and senses together, and body will be more decent. It won’t be tamasic.

So suppose you are tamasic. You are not well behaved actually. Then suddenly ten people come and knock on your door and come inside. You immediately change. So when you bring them together, the problem that body is tamasic, really doesn’t bother. It doesn’t remain, because it is getting associated. It is associated with the mind, it is associated with the rajasic mind. So tamas will be mitigated here and rajas will be mitigated there. The mind says I should not be so rajasic and chemically it is coming together with something that is tamasic, so rajas and tamas coming together will mitigate rajas and tamas both. Then satva is also coming in there so it will further contribute. This coming together precept is very important. When sugar which is not so tasty, milk which is not so tasty, water which is not so tasty and the tea leaves which are bitter come together, they become a very tasty beverage. So bring them together. That is why initiation is very important.

That is why I put stress on proper initiation. In classical yoga you get that initiation, and then things are not so difficult. Initially it will be difficult to comprehend perhaps, but later in handling and managing, it will be greatly facilitated.


IMIYA is hosting an event for current and new members in memory and in celebration of Geeta Iyengar’s life. It will be held January 12, 2020 from 1-4pm at the Iyengar Yoga Center of Denver.

The celebration will commence with a silent practice to a recorded class taught by Geeta, followed by refreshments and a light snack.


Volunteering is an integral part of what keeps our regional association going. Help IMIYA remain successful in its continued support of Iyengar yoga practitioners, community events, education, research, and its ties to the national and global network of Iyengar Yoga practitioners.

Contact us for more information about how you can get involved, and build community.

“When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world.”
–Geeta Iyengar


Become a member and visit the IYNAUS at for more information about our associations, membership, and how you can be of more help. Pass this along to others who may not know or understand the importance of being a member.

“Knowledge has a beginning but no end.”
–Geeta Iyengar



TBA: Teaching Yoga to Cancer Patients and Survivors: A Workshop for Teachers, Volunteers, and Cancer Survivors
Deborah Baker
Park Hill Yoga
Denver, CO

Philosophy Follow Up Friday
Gary Reitze
Iyengar Yoga Center of Denver
Denver, CO
November 15

Yoga for Strong Bones and Osteoporosis
Deborah Baker
Park Hill Yoga
Denver, CO
November 16

Asana Workshop
Dean Lerner
Iyengar Yoga Center of Boulder
Boulder, CO
November 16

Meditation Made Simple
Rick & Michelle Gindele
Santosha Yoga
Wheatridge, CO
November 16
Dean Lerner
Iyengar Yoga Center of Fort Collins

Fort Collins, CO
November 18


Winter Candlelight Restoratives
Yoga Shala
Boulder, CO
December 4

5 Day Winter Intensive
Octavia & Tam
Yoga Shala
Boulder, CO
December 8-12

Restoratives Class and Party
Diane Goldstein
Peaceful Hills Yoga
Morrison, CO
December 13

Kathy’s Annual Restorative Pose Yoga Workshops
Kathy Curran
4 Corners Yoga
Durango, CO
December 14

CCA Observations: Cosmic Yoga in the Gallery
Josephine Lazarus
Center for Contemporary Arts Tank Gallery
Santa Fe, NM
December 19


Yoga for Knees Workshop
Kathy Curran
4 Corners Yoga
Durango, CO
January 25

2020 EVENTS:

  • Yoga Fiesta with Nancy Stechert
  • Senior Teacher Weekend Workshop with John Schumacher: Yoga Shala in Boulder, CO

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