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Citta vs. Lois

September 11, 2016

day 3. Sitting, I am asked to lift my sternum. When in the presence of a senior Iyengar teacher they no doubt have 30 ways to describe how you can drop the chest. As Lois guides me through how to sit properly with an open and lifted chest, I am asked to soften the face, soften the eyes and close them. All of a sudden, they go wild. My eyes, darting from one side to the other, up, down. WTH? My citta just erupted, a desperate attempt to regain control!


An image comes to me quickly. It’s a pink brain with little feet and arms. The arms are equipped with boxing gloves and are ready for a fight. I realize it has come down to this moment. My brain vs. Lois Steinberg. It’s a tough match, Lois has no doubt had the upper hand the last two days.


There are two signature qualities of this tough Iyengar yoga teacher. She commands your undivided attention. The “grazing” citta goes hungry as your undivided attention is called to things like the inner upper right corner of the back left leg… where?... release the skin there to release the groins in Virabhadrasana I. Yes ma’am! Another amazing revelation in this seemingly introductory pose. The amazing thing is this time, I willed it to happen and for once this area of my body finally released, knowingly.

The second signature quality of Lois is her ability to dissipate your fear, quick. Fear of pain, falling, releasing, opening, turning backward, upside down, twisting in deep and unfamiliar ways. Fear of speaking up, digging deep into our own habits and patterns of thought.


Yes, it is a tough match. Inside I am quietly pulling for the winner. Lois – help me silence this beast, please! Then I realize it is my job alone. You can lead a horse to water as they say…


Just at that moment my attention is stolen! Her solemn bellowing aum led a bellowing response from the practitioners. What ensued for 3 hours after that was simply the goal of yoga. Yoga citta vrtti nirodhah. Cessation of the fluctuations of the mind… or something very close to it.


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