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A class with Caroline Coggins (23 Nov 14) – an unexpected lesson in compassion

on February 26, 2015

I was looking forward to attending a Caroline Coggins lead class at Yoga West in Perth, Western Australia on 23 November 2014.

The class was to commemorate the 96th birthday of BKS Iyengar.

Caroline began the session by recounting her experience at Mr Iyengar’s  recent memorial in Pune.


116I had read about, and heard about, Caroline Coggins and I was interested to experience being a student in one of her classes.

However, in the lead up to the class I developed vertigo and dizziness (which lasted for several months), and also I had a cortisone injection for an ongoing ankle injury several days before the class which required resting the ankle. So, I changed tack and asked if I could attend the class as an observer, rather than as a participant. Permission was granted.

Being an observer at a asana class was new to me – previously I had always been “on the mat”. I found a spot to sit that I felt was out of the way of teacher and students. I felt strange sitting on a stool, pad and pen at the ready – I felt as if I should make an announcement as to why I was sitting and watching and not joining in. I wondered if others wondered why I was sitting there. I tried to make myself really small – inconspicuous – almost invisible, but, I still wanted to see and hear everything.

All these feelings and thoughts – I this – I that (!)  Once I got over the I-ness and listened to Caroline’s words… familiar Iyengar instructions…. I watched her adjust participants, and watched participants adjusting themselves and each other…  It was OK to just be there, and it was OK to be a student that observed. And, as I watched the students I had a feeling of compassion wash over me – compassion for myself and my own asana practice – my practice was OK – whatever I did it was OK.

This was a new experience for me. I previously felt I had to be more, do more…
all I have to do is BE.

I give thanks for being given the opportunity to observe, and to find that compassion. Compassion for myself that flows on into compassion for others…

Much gratitude to Mr Iyengar
Caroline Coggins, and Yoga West


 Words of inspiration from Caroline on the
teachings of BKS Iyengar

Guruji said to his great grand daughter the night before he died
that he had given her everything, and that now she needed 
to find out for herself.

He was speaking to us all as well.

We are not handed anything of value,
except love and being enabled to progress.

I believe we need to follow in
his footsteps, led by his example,  which does not mean necessarily
only watching and recalling his classes and all the information which has
been generated from Pune.

Rather, the footsteps I am referring to are the
inner ones: the steady work and practice; the keen intelligence
applied to practice; courage and capacity to think for ourselves and not
just follow blindly.  This means that we must know ourselves, our strengths
and weaknesses and culture ourselves.Culture to Guriji meant as a human
being, not in outward things but inside ourselves, creating a unity and inclusiveness,
seeking truth, while being ethical in our dealings with others.

We are all cracked vessels, and acknowledging this frees us to be less
judgmental and self protective. As teachers we share what we know,
endlessly exploring with a 
fresh and open mind.

Let us be bold as we step forward now into our future.

2014 11 23 caroline coggins workshop at yoga west perth



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