Inner yoga is movement from the core of our being. The body has the intelligence to know how it needs to move. The classical yoga postures, the asanas, originally developed from this intelligence. The structure developed for the asanas is known as Hatha yoga. Inner yoga takes these classical asanas, together with the philosophy of yoga and its spiritual aspects, and teaches them in a way that can transform the body, mind and emotions, touching the heart of our being.
This teaching asks you to be open, to experiment, to practice and to take yoga into your life. When yoga is taken in this spirit it brings you the ability to remedy all sorts of imbalances in the body, mind and spirit.
‘The practice of yoga is the commitment to become established in the state of freedom.’
Patanjali 1:13 (Translation – Alastair Shearer)
The Inner Yoga Trust has followed the teachings of Vanda Scaravelli for the last 15 years with our teachers Diane Long and Sophy Hoare. Vanda Scaravelli was inspired to move and change the Western posture in a way that brought us more into an awareness of the spine and its connection to the limbs.
The term ‘Scaravelli inspired yoga’ was originally suggested by Diane Long, a student of Vanda’s for 25 years, as being a more appropriate way of describing her own teaching. The focus of this way of movement is based on the movement of the spine and the movement of the hips and shoulders. We bring this awareness of movement into our asana teaching.
Our teachers are taught to work from their intuition – knowledge from within – and to encourage the development of intuition in their own students. Our teaching is firmly rooted in the classical texts of yoga which gives a lot of freedom because as the texts state, there are as many paths to yoga as there are people. The recognition of each unique body/mind/spirit we meet is fundamental to our teaching. Ours is not a yoga of regimental shapes, more an encouragement of each individual on a journey towards movement and vitality.
‘The practice chosen must be learned correctly from and guided by a competent teacher who understands the personal and social traits of the student. If the appropriate practice for a particular student is not provided and followed, there can be little hope of success.’
Patanjali 1:13 (Translation – TKV Desikachar)
Why Scaravelli Yoga?
In recent years, the term 'Scaravelli yoga' or 'Scaravelli inspired yoga' has developed and become recognised by many yoga practitioners and teachers who work in this way within their yoga practice.
Both Iyengar and Desikachar have translated the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and we use both these translations in our 500 hour Teacher Training Diploma course, as well as in our individual teaching. These Yoga Sutras give the basis of the philosophy and whole practice of yoga.
We all honour, thank and have reverence for all the teachers mentioned here who have enabled and supported our teaching in the Inner Yoga School.
Teaching Lineage of the Inner Yoga Trust
It is important in the teachings of an ancient path such as yoga, to be able to trace back the lineage of the teaching of the path that one finds oneself on. Firstly, to honour and thank those who have brought this wonderful teaching and also to keep in our awareness the truth that the journey does not start with us but goes back through an ancient tradition that we follow.
Although the Inner Yoga School does not have formal links with any tradition, there is a very specific tradition that we honour. This came from the teachings of Shri T. Krishnamacharya, down through his brother-in Law, Shri B.K.S. Iyengar who brought this teaching of yoga to the west through his teaching of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. They met at Vanda Scaravelli’s home in Florence.
All of our course tutors, and many other of our teachers, began in the Iyengar yoga school that developed in the U.K. through the Iyengar Teachers Association. This is a wonderful and very specific tradition brought to the UK by the many people who traveled to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial institute in Pune, Maharashtra, India to learn at the source of this teaching and many still do.
Jenny Beeken followed this path and says “One of my abiding memories of what Shri B.K.S. Iyengar said, along with his teaching, was: ‘the trouble with you people is that you are all hard on the outside and soft on the inside, whereas you need to be firm and strong on the inside and softer on the outside.’ He then pointed out a local Indian woman in the class and said, ‘See how she moves from the inside even though she is very plump!’ My feeling here after years of reflection is that Shri B.K.S Iyengar was struggling to find a way of getting our tightly held Western bodies to move. He tried to do it rather forcefully and that sometimes tightened people more. He said to me, ‘you are full of fear and cannot cry’, and his subsequent kick to my upper back made me cry for 2 hours. Whilst this did move my back, I did not retain it as a more long lasting change to my hunched posture.”
Shri B.K.S.Iyengar and Shri.T.K.V.Desikachar both taught Vanda Scaravelli in Florence when they were visitors in her home. Shri T.K.V.Desikachar is Shri T.Krishnamacharya’s son, he was taught much later than B.K.S.Iyengar and received a very different teaching. Shri B.K.S.Iyengar had T.B. as a child and so needed to build up his strength and stamina. He was therefore taught by Krishnamacharya to hold the postures for a long time, for example a 45 minute head balance. The individual teaching received by the two men has given rise to two very different traditions, and Vanda Scaravelli experienced both.
Vanda says in her book, Awakening the Spine, that when both teachers left Europe she did not have a teacher, and so had to carry on to develop her own practice. Through this practice, and in keeping with the title of her book, she did awaken and move her spine by relaxing the outer body and accessing the spine and all its deep muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Through her teaching, we are learning to strengthen and firm the inner body, the core of our being, and relax and soften the outer 'holding on'. This is what Shri BKS Iyengar could see needed to happen, but perhaps could not see how. It needed a Western body to feel and work out what was needed.
This is what Vanda Scaravelli developed and taught to many people, including to Diane Long for over 20 years and to Sophy Hoare for several years. Sophy also had roots in Iyengar yoga and attended the classes of Victor Van Kooten and Angela Farmer for many years, before going to Florence to be taught by Vanda.
Victor Van Kooten and Angela Farmer, who were patrons of the Inner Yoga Trust for many years, also attended many of Shri.B.K.S. Iyengar’s courses and classes. The Iyengar tradition is still recognisable in their teaching, as it is in Diane Long and Sophy Hoare's teaching, but all of them needed the freedom to develop their own individual 'original yoga'.
Jenny Beeken says, “All Indian teachers say, and I have heard Shri.B.K.S.Iyengar say, that the chela (student) does eventually need to leave the Guru (Guru means to lead from darkness to light) and find their own path.”
This is what has happened in the Inner Yoga School. Jenny Beeken left the Iyengar organisation and, along with Pauline Sawyer and Jane Malcomson, founded the Inner Yoga Trust in 1993. We still adhere to and employ this ancient lineage in our teaching and both Jenny and Pauline, along with many of our teaching members, have been students of Diane Long for the last fifteen years.