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Kiss My Asana #14: Strong As A Diamond! February 15, 2016

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Dharma, Donate, Faith, Fitness, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Science, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Wisdom, Women, Yoga.
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“As a well cut diamond has many facets, each reflecting a different colour of light, so does the word yoga, each facet reflecting a different shade of meaning and revealing different aspects of the entire range of human endeavor to win inner peace and happiness.”

– Excerpt from Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar


 “We women must listen to our inner voice. It is easier for women to do this as they are not afraid to say what they feel. We must keep both our femininity and our strength.”

Indra Devi

You might not realize it if you don’t know her, but Yogi #14 (Ruth) is different from most of the previous yogis profiled this month: She doesn’t practice with me. In fact, Ruth is one of the people I met for the first time at the beginning of February. Her passion and dedication are evident in the way she talks about yoga – and in her willingness to answer my questions even we had just met when I mentioned my 2016 Kiss My Asana commitment to her at the beginning of the month.

Listening to Ruth talk about yoga made me think of Indra Devi. From what I’ve read, Devi fell in love with yoga at an early age, persistently pursued her interest, and made yoga a life-long passion. While many people in the West think of yoga as something for women, Devi is notable because she is known as the first woman and one of the first Westerners to study with T. Krishnamacharya (“The Father of Modern Yoga”), beginning in 1937 – a time when yoga was recognized as something for men. She (along with Sri Pattabhi Jois, TKV Desikachar, AG Mohan, and B. K. S. Iyengar) was one of the people responsible for bringing the physical practice of yoga (hatha yoga) to the western world. However, because she was a woman and a Westerner, Devi couldn’t just saunter into Mysore and start practicing yoga with the Maharaja’s teacher. She had to be steady and persistent in her efforts. She had to pass all the “tests” or challenges thrown her way. It helped that the Maharaja intervened on her behalf – but that just got her in the door. Devi had to make the continued effort.

 “Abhyasa (steady, repeated practice) means choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a stable and tranquil state.”

Yoga Sutra 1:13 (translated by Swamij)


“Success in Yoga is not obtained by the mere theoretical reading of sacred texts. Success is not obtained by wearing the dress of a yogi or a sanyasi (a recluse), nor by talking about it. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.”

Hatha Yoga Pradipika I:67-68

Ruth wasn’t cavalier in her acceptance of my invitation to answer my seven questions. Since she practices yoga based on the teachings of B. K. S. Iyengar, she wanted to make sure that our exchange would honor the correct practice and study of yoga. So, Ruth essentially interviewed me before I interviewed her (and Yogi #15).

 “Yoga is an art and science of living. Yoga means union, in all its significances and dimensions. Through a certain amount of physical and mental disciplines we can learn how to stay healthy, alert, receptive and to improve our perception of the external world in order to feel internally harmonized, with a better life condition and spiritual balance.”

– Indra Devi


Though the yogi does not underrate his body, he does not think merely of its perfection but of his senses, mind, intellect and soul.

The yogi conquers the body by the practice of the asanas and makes it a fit vehicle for the spirit. He knows that it is a necessary vehicle for the spirit.”

– Excerpt from Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar


One of the significant things about Indra Devi’s story is that her steady, persistent, and disciplined efforts enabled her to practice (and teach) into her tenth decade. She was, apparently, still practicing 4 -5 poses up until her death at 102. While she has quite a ways to go, I can easily see Ruth’s practice extending into her centennial years. In fact, after everything was said and done, she mentioned that I should have asked her how her practice has changed over 25 years and what poses she’s doing as her mind-body changes.

That’s a great question. It’s a great question not only because our mind-body changes with age, but also because we change when we experience trauma, loss, and disability. We change when we hold space for other people experiencing life-changing moments. Matthew Sanford and Mind Body Solutions are living that question, in order to help more people live (or practice) their way into the answers. If you’ve experienced changes in your mind-body, please KISS MY ASANA!


~ Jai Guru Dev Jai Jai ~