I was 18 when I took my first yoga class in the basement of a church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fast forward 10 years. Having been inspired by the practical and spiritual principles of yoga, I move to San Francisco to study yoga. The Institute for Yoga Teacher Education, later to become the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, perfectly suited my western mind wanting to ‘understand’ why I was doing what we were doing in each posture. They taught anatomy and physiology alongside asana (postures), pranayama (breathing practices), philosophy and the fine art of teaching.
Before beginning my first class at the IYTE, I overdid a backbend and paralyzed a shoulder muscle. Yikes. I was not able to raise my arm overhead, and my shoulder blade protruded in back when bringing the arm forward.
Luckily, I was embarking on a magnificent journey of discovery and healing. Little did I know of B.K.S. Iyengar but his influence, more than any other, inspired what was to become the Bhoga System — tools for body/mind balance.
The IYTE faculty were all trained in the method of B.K.S. Iyengar. I learned the mechanics of movement and optimal postural alignment. My western mind wanting to understand details began to realize that ‘body intelligence’ has endless depth and refinement, even on the cellular level.
At the core of vitality is balance and alignment. Alignment of the spine and the body together, in balance. Sometimes people refer to balance as being centered.
Iyengar’s innovation in using ‘props’ enables any level practitioner to create and maintain optimal alignment for their ability. Common props used are blocks, blankets, belts, chairs and bolsters. There are props called forward benders, back benders, halasana and setu bandha benches, plus many more. My fascination with props and my desire for optimal balance in body and mind is responsible for the birth of the Bhoga System – tools for body/ mind balance.
Fast forward many decades. Happily, my injured right shoulder area is almost completely healed.
February 19, 2015
After paralyzing a shoulder muscle 18 years ago, Randy Dean turned to yoga and now is helping others find their alignment through furniture that stretches with them.