When I first met Lori McIntosh, she was dashing to the airport after teaching an excellent Iyengar Yoga class at Goorus. She was headed to San Francisco to take class with her long-time teacher, Manouso Manos. Impressed by her level of commitment, I asked about her motivation. “Teaching the Iyengar method is a tremendous responsibility,” she said, “and a real privilege.” Authentic teaching can only come from one’s own study, from daily practice, she explained. “I see my teacher as often as possible,” she continued, “even though it’s not always convenient.”
Like many other Iyengar practitioners, Lori dabbled in other yoga styles before finding her way to the Iyengar method in effort to heal a serious shoulder injury. After years of dedicated Iyengar practice, she decided to enroll in the teacher training at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. She wasn’t interested in teaching at that point. Rather, she wanted to deepen her understanding of asana and the philosophy of Iyengar Yoga. Along the way, teaching opportunities popped up and Lori found that she enjoyed the challenge.
The artistry of teaching is what drew her in. “Although the Iyengar method is well established,” said Lori, “the teaching and the practice are constantly evolving – it’s a daily evolution. My practice informs what I teach. Every day is different. Every class reflects that.”
Alignment is key. Iyengar teachers are taught to observe each student and teach to what they see. “We don’t touch-and-go in poses,” she said. “It’s about establishing the shape, then refining and building on the pose, linking what came before to what is happening now.”
Lori invests a lot of thought into planning each class. She begins with a basic sequence in mind, yet remains flexible, making adjustments as the class progresses and she sees the needs of each of the students. “No matter what the level of the class,” she said, “we teach the students in front of us.” That means that class is somewhat individualized; she may have students working at different levels in the same class.
What Lori enjoys most is her relationships with her students. “People come to yoga for all kinds of reasons,” she said. “Some have injuries, some want to exercise, some are seekers of a more spiritual existence.” They face challenges of all types – physical, mental, relationship, financial. “But they all benefit,” she observed. “Manouso always says that the body is the easiest way in,” meaning that practicing the physical postures has a profound effect on the mind. “Focusing on asana,” Lori said, “consumes the chatter of the mind and brings a calming, a quietness.” The practitioner gradually develops compassion for him or herself that extends to the external world. This is why Lori believes that the whole world benefits from each person’s practice of yoga. “The student feels physically strong, mentally stable, at the same time increasing his capacity for patience and empathy toward others.”
Lori, a resident of Pacific Palisades, is the newest member of the Iyengar Yoga team at Goorus Yoga Studio. She teaches a Level 2 class on Tuesdays at 8:30am. Other Iyengar instructors include Wendy Alter, who teaches a Level 1 class at Goorus on Mondays at 1:30, and Jeff Perlman, who teaches a Level 1/2 class on Fridays at 1:30 and on Saturday mornings at 8:30. [We are hopeful Larry Heliker will return to teaching at Goorus in the New Year!]
Named after and developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that emphasizes detail, precision and alignment, often making use of props such as straps, blocks, and blankets. The props help students perform the postures (asanas) correctly, minimizing injury and making the poses accessible to practitioners of all ages. Iyengar Yoga is based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as explained in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.) Iyengar (December 14, 1918 – August 20, 2014) was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He was the author of the seminal Light on Yoga, among other books. Credited with popularizing yoga around the world, Iyengar was one of the earliest students of “the father of modern yoga,” Krishnamacharya. In 2004, Time magazine named Iyengar one of the 100 most influential people in the world.