Bringing Us Back to the Roots
from Rosie Richardson
Not long before I started down the path of yoga, I taught music K-3. The joy that came to the bodies and faces of young folks learning the poetry, melody and movement of music was such a treasure for me. The chorus to THIS song sprung back from the depths of my graying matter as I contemplated our teacher, Peentz Dubble.
“We’re a family, and we’re a tree
Our roots go deep down in history
From my great, great grandparents
Reaching up to me
We’re a green and growing family.”
– John McCutcheon
One of the MANY things I admire about Peentz is her dedication to bringing us back to the “roots” of the practice through readings and discussions about the sutras, especially the yamas and niyamas. The notion of living the sutras can be daunting, but by bringing us to one aspect of the philosophy each week, we can begin to grasp, taste, embody, and, some day, live the sutras, both on the mat and off.
Three years ago, I left the Iyengar “family” I had been a part of for 13 years in California. Peentz was warm and welcoming from the very first class I attended. I was so drawn to her teaching for the kindness which she showed each person in class; for the encouragement to “find out”, to take things a little further, to stretch just a bit beyond our imagined limitations; for the precision and economy of her instruction; and for the brilliance of her sequences. Soon after, she welcomed me to the faculty, and for the past two years as my mentor, her kindness and generosity, expressed by welcoming me to assist her class and giving me ample opportunity to teach the next level of poses, have allowed me to “branch” out and blossom as a teacher.
Like many, I first came to yoga classes to help me keep the mind and the body strong, pliable and healthy. With time, and as my family of Iyengar teachers has grown, I have learned how much, MUCH more there is. I have come to admire and deeply appreciate the gift our teachers give us each week…opening our minds to the knowledge, experience and wisdom of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras, sharing interpretations of the Iyengars’ teachings, and most importantly, teaching from the experience of their own practices.
All of this transmission of knowledge, wisdom, and experience is so very strong in Peentz’s teaching. Thank you, dear Peentz, for being a part of my yoga family tree!
Love and blessings,
from Maryellen Jurchak
The first time I attended Peentz Dubble’s yoga class in 2005 I felt a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. I became anxious and began questioning my own capabilities. How often do we overreact where our mind goes off on a tangent, worrying about things that may never happen? As I participated in her advanced yoga class, I began to absorb the nectar of the Iyengar method of teachings through her skillful, yet clear, poetic approach. She has tenacity that one could feel with the abundance of love coming though her voice as she taught each asana. It connected instantly not only to me but with her students as I glanced around the room as we followed her guiding instructions. As I walked away from the class, I felt foolish for having fear overcome my thoughts. By planting the seed of encouragement, I then embraced a new beginning as I began to deepen my practice through her exquisite teachings.
As I continued this journey practicing with Peentz, she would always have a way of taking me to the next level, by challenging me to explore the “what-if’s”. Why stop in the asana when you could take the next step in exploration of the unknown? Try to experiment and learn through observation as a way to deepen your practice. Her advice helped me tremendously in maturing in my own personal practice through careful observation.
Through her guidance I began to see clearly the effects of my asana practice. The encouragement grew through a profound awareness (pranja) not only through alignment but by reflecting on myself and my life as I delved deeper though this personal journey. The flare of her language as she dissected each pose with simple, clear instructions allowing one to fully grasp and understand the essence and beauty of the asana. Through her posing questions, I began to pause, reflect and explore by asking myself ‘What do I need to do to get the right action? How can I use prana to have the energy flow smoothly and freely through the body?’ Each attending class became a dedicated ritual where teacher-student relationship became personable as our collaboration of friends/students continued to explore, mature, and learn.
As BKS Iyengar described in the Tree of Life "The Leaves":
As the leaves aerate the tree and provide nourishment for its healthy growth, so pranayama feeds and aerates the cells, nerves, organs, intelligences and consciousness of the human system. When we are performing an asana, we can extend the body fully if we synchronized the breath with the movements.
These are the types of qualities that are embedded in Peentz’s teachings and projected out in me as her student. To this day, I am ever so grateful that I had stepped through the doors into Peentz Dubble’s teachings. It has been like opening the shutters on a window, and feeling the abundance of joy that radiates as the sun beams across one's body.
I leave you with a quote from Mary Oliver's poem, “Why I Wake Up Early” as each day will be a remembrance of you, my dear mentor and beloved teacher, “Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
Heart of Iyengar
from Shara Lewis
Over the past five years, as Peentz’s student, then as one of her assistants, I learned that Iyengar yoga is more that practicing challenging poses and showing off one’s flexibility. Peentz taught me how the practice of yoga, both on and off the mat, leads to the union of body, mind, and soul.
I participated in Peentz’s first solo teacher training, which she aptly named the Heart of Iyengar. At first, I thought I would never be able to learn to teach. But Peentz continued to encourage all of us, urging us to teach asana based on our personal physical experience. Peentz didn’t give us a list of primary actions to memorize, but rather guided us to find the actions, to truly experience them, and the changes an adjustment can bring about, in our own bodies to better be able to teach the poses. Over the months, I felt my connections deepen, with Peentz, and with the others in my teacher training community, as well as we struggled, laughed, and cried through our teacher training course.
I learned from Peentz to appreciate and not judge my own physical body. Early in teacher training, Peentz divided our cohort into two groups and instructed us to observe and see without judgment as our classmates walked back and forth across the studio. Such as simple exercise, yet so powerful. “Look at all these different bodies, all different ways of moving,” she said and I saw, perhaps for the first time that there was no right or wrong, no one body was better than the others, we were all carrying ourselves, our souls, in our physical vehicle.
She was my first teacher of yoga philosophy, starting with readings as we lay in Supta Baddha Konasana at the start of class. She guided me more deeply as we explored Iyengar’s writings and the Yoga Sutras in discussions and assignments in teacher training program. For years, Peentz led a free monthly philosophy discussion, open to all. Her dedication to exploring yoga philosophy and her patience and guidance have helped so many of us to advance our understanding of yoga beyond the asana (poses).
Heart of Iyengar training taught me to dig deep within, began my teaching journey, but it was not until I started assisting regularly in Peentz’s Level 1 classes that I truly to appreciate the care and love and concern that she brings to each student. Her teaching is infused with a sense of respect and humility. And her sequencing is truly masterful, with a trajectory and in mind. She prepares for each class with so much thought, practicing the sequence she plans to teach. But she maintains an open mind, willing to change her class in response to what she observes in her students that day, or even in response to what has happened in the world that day.
I feel so blessed to have had Peentz as my teacher and I will miss her encouragement, insight, and her poems.