Last month, LINES Dance Center proudly added Iyengar Yoga to its virtual class schedule. This addition was inspired by Alonzo King’s family history: Alonzo’s father, Slater King, practiced yoga frequently and introduced him to it at a young age. Alonzo has continued to pursue yoga and strongly advocates its importance for minds and bodies from all walks of life.
This new weekly class is taught by David Sirgany, an ardent practitioner of Iyengar Yoga for over 30 years whose depth and passion for the subject shine forth brightly in his teaching. David studied directly with BKS Iyengar and his family on numerous occasions in India. He is an Iyengar certified yoga instructor and has taught both nationally and internationally for more than 18 years. David brings to his teaching an extensive background in the somatic disciplines of Shintaido (a martial arts based movement), Buddhist meditation, and more than 25 years professional experience as a therapeutic bodyworker and somatic educator. He draws inspiration from the visual arts and from a lifelong passion for surfing.
We recently asked David to elaborate on his approach to yoga and the benefits of regular practice. Read on for his thoughts about how yoga supports one’s highest levels of functioning and how it can enhance the lives of dancers and non-dancers alike.
Q&A with David Sirgany
What is yoga?
Yoga classically defined is union with the divine. It is also defined as skillful means. So the word yoga implies both an underlying reality and also the means of realizing that reality. In practical terms, one could say that yoga is a process that yields clarity of perception and leads one to clearly discern what is real from what is not real – on all levels of being. Asana (yoga postures) is one aspect of yoga practice and a wonderful entry point into this transformational process.
What are the benefits?
Most people experience immediate benefits from asana practice including increased vitality and an overall sense of well being. Clarity of mind comes. We become less reactive and more courageous. We naturally begin to cultivate a more balanced state of being. Aging becomes more graceful and living more joyful. As the practice deepens over time these effects increase and we begin to gain more stability in these experiences that at first may have been powerful but fleeting.
Does yoga practice assist dance training?
I would say that yoga practice enriches and complements not only dance training but any form of movement training. Yoga supports our highest levels of functioning. Because the practice affects us on a deep fundamental level, all aspects of life are enhanced. This includes physical performance, but also our relationships; with others; with nature; and with ourselves. Being a primarily internal discipline, yoga practice provides a complementary counterpoint to the expressive nature of dance and other movement modalities. The Asana function as energetic templates in which we learn to build strength into our places of weakness while relaxing our places of strength. A functional integration begins to take place leading to an inner coherence in which our nervous system is organically strengthened. We become less reactive in general and become more skillful at perceiving and directing our energy and attention to where and how it is best serving.
“Yoga supports our highest levels of functioning. Because the practice affects us on a deep fundamental level, all aspects of life are enhanced.”
Is your class for everyone?
My class is open to anyone who has a sincere interest to learn.
At what point in your yoga practice did you realize that it was a life transforming science?
l feel fortunate that I had a sense from the very beginning of my practice. Yet my understanding of how profoundly transforming the practice is has only continued to deepen with time. In the context of practice I have noticed that deeper truths are revealed when there is a ripeness to receive them.
Do you think of the asanas as a preparation for meditation or as meditation?
Asana practice is excellent preparation for meditation.
What have you learned from yoga practice?
Many things but perhaps more importantly I continue to learn from the practice each day. In many ways I could say that the practice has taught me ‘how to learn’. For the yoga practitioner, what is learned is of less importance than the process of learning itself. In the practice we cultivate our capacity to remain in a receptive state in which learning occurs naturally without effort.
One of the things that I continue to learn about is the value of living life from my perceptive capacity as opposed to my conceptive capacity. So living more from the intelligence of the body, the breath, and the heart, and less from the brain. And with that has come an increased appreciation for the preciousness of the present moment, for the value of human attention, and for life itself.
How important is it to relax?
Suffice to say that true relaxation is priceless! Deep relaxation of the nervous system is crucial to the optimal health, functioning, and survival of human life. In addition, it is only in the absence of our self contraction that we can feel the presence of the divine within.
TAKE CLASS WITH DAVID
Join David on Mondays at 9:30-10:45am Pacific Time for Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar Yoga focuses on Asana (yoga poses) and Pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques) and offers a context for the cultivation of honesty, courage, inner awareness, and sincerity. The method emphasizes inner and outer alignment while developing a functional integration of stability, stamina, flexibility and balance – of mind and body. In this class you will learn the primary principles and fundamental actions of the practice. This class is open to all levels of students.