Iyengar Yoga: Meditation in Action – Marla Apt
Marla Apt shares how she came to Iyengar yoga, her efforts to bring the benefits of therapeutic yoga to the greater public sphere, and why she returns to the Feathered Pipe year after year.
Eric: From my understanding you first came to yoga and Iyengar yoga through your study of Buddhism. Is that true?
Marla: Yes, that is true. I was studying Buddhist philosophy, which exposed me to yogic philosophy. I was somewhat familiar with yogic philosophy, but not with the practice or how the practice and the philosophy merge. Buddhism was the lens through which I viewed yoga during my first years of practicing yoga.
Eric: Did you find that they resonated with each other, or were some things in conflict with each other?
Marla: I immediately felt that they resonated with each other. When I first discovered Iyengar yoga I was kind of blown away. While I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of the philosophy, I thought it difficult for laypeople to to grasp. When I took my first Iyengar yoga class, I was amazed at how the concepts could be experienced in a practical manner, accessible to anyone with a body. I continued to be impressed with how BKS Iyengar was able to use asana and pranayama to access the goals of Yoga. Having already done some seated meditation practice, I found yoga to be complimentary and to be a sort of meditation in action.
Eric: You started Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics. What was your motivation for doing this?
Marla: Iyengar yoga is inherently therapeutic. BKS Iyengar developed yoga therapy early in his studies and practice of yoga. He started working with doctors and took an interest in helping people through yoga. He saw very quickly in his teaching career how yoga could help people overcome illness and injury and devoted a large part of his life to that subject.
While all Iyengar Yoga teachers are trained with a therapeutic approach to modify and help students with basic problems and common ailments, we don’t consider that to be yoga therapy. Rather, therapeutic Iyengar Yoga is prescriptive, specified to individual students and their condition. Iyengar yoga therapy has been taught to the senior teachers directly by BKS Iyengar. I wanted to help share knowledge of this healing art to all teachers of Iyengar yoga and to most importantly, make this therapy accessible to the general public.
Eric: Iyengar yoga has really been one of the pillars of everything we have done at the Ranch during our almost forty-five years. What is your experience of the Feathered Pipe?
Marla: It’s an honor because I know the history of transmission at the ranch. Many of the senior teachers who helped spark the flame of yoga in this country began that process at the ranch. So I definitely feel that history when I’m there: the wisdom of the teachers and seeker in the students.
It’s nice to be able to help continue the thread of the ranch’s tradition of yoga studies in the same beautiful yoga room. At the ranch, I feel that we are supported in our practice. The lack of distraction helps to maintain our intention. Feathered Pipe provides an ideal retreat setting. The yoga is the focus of the week and everything else serves to support that.
Dates are set for Marla Apt’s 2019 Iyengar Yoga Intensive! Stay tuned for full details. Pay in full until Thanksgiving, November 22, and save $100. Register online or contact our office at (406) 442-8196 to reserve your spot.