September 4, 2012

Learning to “See.” ~ Ann Barros

(From Yoga in America:
In the Words of Some of its Most Ardent Teachers)


Revelations from a Strap.

In India, under the careful guidance of B.K.S. Iyengar, a female student with an enlarged ovarian cyst avoided surgery by practicing supported poses, which helped to nourish her uterus and ovaries.

In time the cyst dissipated.

In the Iyengar tradition of Yoga, which I have been practicing and teaching for 28 years, particular attention is paid to alignment.

As I observe a student practicing the asana (yoga poses), I make adjustments, use props, modify or change the pose according to the student’s needs—so that they can attain maximum benefit for their unique and individual well-being.

And their unique and individual spinal column.

“Oh, Wow! That transferred up my whole body and affected my entire alignment!”

A student in last week’s yoga class was referring to the use of a belt tied tautly around her upper thighs as she approached the ascent into sirsanana (headstand pose).

Another student shared with me that she experienced great relief from tension headaches and cramping after regular practice of setu bandasana (supported bridge pose) which, with the use of props, elevated her chest and pelvic area—allowing her breath to move more deeply and fully into the lungs as she relaxed into the pose.

I love my work, my practice, my classes. After nearly three decades, there is never a dull moment.

My eyes, though well trained, are still learning to “see.”

I enjoy changing my relationship to my practice—discovering new inner sources of strength to hold myself up on my hands, elbows and forearms, my head, one foot and one hand.

Each asana is a laboratory for self-exploration, a storehouse of body memory and an opportunity to break old patterns. I believe the asana can become more alive, more open, and more exciting as we hold and grow into the poses.

Explore the poses.

Deepen them.

Gain insight from them.

I am constantly experimenting with new props and new challenges for myself and my students.

Asana practice can be a tool for growth—physically, emotionally and psychologically—and reflect the union of body, mind and spirit. On an emotional and spiritual level, some asana stimulate the animus or male part of our inner being, while others tap into our anima or female nature.

It is useful to learn when to practice which sets of asana for specific concerns.

Learn how to sequence a practice. Learn how to design a home practice.

Learn which poses stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, and uplift us; and which poses stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system—nourishing the heart and quieting the mind.

I was fortunate to study directly with B.K.S. Iyengar in India in 1976.

I was suffering with Scoliosis then—curvature approximately 2.5 cm to the right in the mid-Thoracic vertebrae.

Under his close scrutiny, I endured an intense re-positioning of the musculature of my back and through long held supported traction, my spine went into vertical and perfect alignment.

It was not easy or quick; and sometimes I cried, but the discipline and passion to cure my spine was there. The seed of inspiration was then planted in me and has remained my lifelong passion.

At the end of each class I say Namaste, which means I honor the divine love, light, and truth in both of us.

The place where we are one.


 Ann Barros is a senior Iyengar yoga instructor with over 30 years teaching experience, including 5 years at UCSC, where she introduced the Iyengar tradition to the Santa Cruz, California community. She has led over 40 successful Yoga In Bali tours.

Ann has led workshops both domestically in California and Colorado, and internationally in Singapore, Jamaica, Greece, Mexico, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and China, as well as her beloved Bali, which has become her second home.

Ann first studied with BKS Iyengar in India in 1976. He personally guided her into curing her own Scoliosis. She is certified by the Iyengar Yoga Institute of S.F. since 1980, and later that year, after studying again in India, first came to Bali. Learn more about Ann at www.baliyoga.com

See all articles from
Yoga in America:
In the Words of Some of its Most Ardent Teachers


Editor: James Carpenter

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