These are my picks for Iyengar yoga workshops and intensives in 2018. Basically, if I could rob a bank and discovered I had a secret twin who was a copywriting-translation whizz, this is what I’d spend the year doing.
Retreat with Patricia Walden – Bellur, India
30 December 2017 – 5 January 2018
Why it’s worth going: I’ve never been taught by Patricia but she’s one of the Iyengar old guard, so I’d be interested in seeing what a workshop with the Backbend Queen is like. Word of warning: while a lot of money has been funnelled into Bellur, it is still a village in rural India. Set your expectations and take plenty of mosquito repellant.
Winter intensive/Intensif d’hiver with Faeq Biria – Paris, France
27 – 28 January (level: Blacons weeks 1 – 2)
Why it’s worth going: It’s Faeq Biria. What more do I need to say?! Faeq is one of the few people around who was with Guruji from the start. He has a tremendous amount of knowledge – arguably the best teacher we have outside of India. In his workshops, he imparts a lot of what BKS Iyengar was instructing in the 60s and 70s. Much of this hasn’t been passed down or has since been forgotten. Being taught by Faeq is a blessing. Grab the opportunity while you can.
Workshop with Abhay Javakhedkar – Florence, Italy
22 – 25 February
Why it’s worth going: Abhay is another of these special and rare teachers who had been with Guruji for a long time. His parents opened the first Iyengar yoga studio in Pune and Abhay’s early life centred around the Ramamani Memorial Iyenger Yoga Institute (RMIYI), where he attended children’s classes.
He is a wealth of yoga knowledge, especially when it comes to remedial work, as he can share gems BKS Iyengar taught him. Abhay’s classes are characterised by fun sequencing, light-heartenedness and hard work. His energy and enthusiasm for the subject of yog are infectious.
Easter intensive/Intensif de Pâques with Faeq Biria – Paris, France
31 March – 2 April (level: Blacons weeks 4 – 6)
Why it’s worth going: At Blacons level 1 – 2, you can expect to hammer the standings and improve your strength and stamina. If you’re interested in being taught poses off the more advanced and senior syllabuses – and if you mentally prepare yourself in advance… this isn’t for the faint-hearted! – the Easter intensive (Blacons level weeks 4 – 6) is for you. I can’t think of anywhere else you’d learn uttan eka pada sirsasana.
Workshop with Marla Apt – Knutsford, UK
10 – 12 April *Marla’s first visit to the UK*
(All levels) When I went to her workshop in the Black Forest last year she managed to cater for absolute beginners and more experienced teachers. Yes, even those new to yoga ended up attempting eka pada raj kapotasana!
Why it’s worth going: Marla is known for her detailed yoga articles in Yoga Journal and now Yoga Glo. It’s clear from the depth of her knowledge that she spent many years studying intensely at RMIYI in Pune. What I love most about her workshops is the Geetaji-style of her teaching and her jaw-dropping practice. Expect to be worked hard but reap the benefits afterwards.
Workshops with Gulnaaz in Canada (full tour details)
Why it’s worth going: Gulnaaz is one of the most long-standing teachers at the Institute (RMIYI) in Pune who was trained by Guruji and Geetaji personally. Her workshops are peppered with humour and anecdotes about learning under the watchful eye of BKS Iyengar.
She instructs much in the style of Geetaji, with clear sequencing and teaching methods that help you achieve poses you have a mental or physical block with. I love the contrast between the lightness of her manner and how hard she expects you to work – a lady after my own heart.
Margaret Austin’s teachers’ class – Sunderland, UK
Friday, weekly – contact Margaret for details (for teachers and experienced students)
Why it’s worth going: Strictly speaking, this isn’t a workshop, but all of Margaret’s events are a masterclass in Iyengar yoga. She is one of the UK’s best and most qualified teachers. If you’re a trainee, teacher or just someone keen to learn more about Iyengar yoga, get yourself along to Sunderland.
Much like my other picks, Margaret Austin is one of the old school Iyengar yogis. A lot of her classes and teaching methods come from BKS Iyengar in the 1970s. Margaret really is unparalleled. I mean, who else in the UK has a bookcase full of notebooks with 1970s Guruji sequences?
Week 1 (level 1 – 2): 8 – 14 July, week 2 (level 2 – 3): 15 – 21 July, week 3 (level 3 – 4): 22 – 28 July, week 5 (level 4 – 5): 29 July – 3 August
Why it’s worth going: Spending a whole week (or more) at what I fondly call boot camp transforms your practice. What sets this apart from other intensives is how the sequences build like a music score to a crescendo of you achieving a pose you never thought possible. This is thanks to Faeq’s wonderful teaching and the fabulous openings in the morning.
My favourite week is the second one (with the updated format, it’s a mash-up of week 2 and 4). In this week you get the benefits of the standings and some fun, more advanced poses without the arrogant egotists who show up in the later weeks.
Margaret Austin and Gordon Austin’s summer school – Sunderland, UK
Beginning of August – TBC
Why it’s worth going: Margaret’s teachers’ class is great, but what’s even better is a whole week of her teaching. Keep an eye out on the North East Institute for Iyengar Yoga website for dates of her 2018 summer school.