December 14 is an important date for all practitioners of Iyengar yoga. That date marks the birth date of B.K.S. Iyengar, the world’s most influential yoga teacher and the guru of a system of Hatha yoga known for precision of alignment and the sequencing of poses for all kinds of physical and mental challenges. Although Iyengar departed this earthly plane on August 20 of this year, his teaching lives on through his children and his certified teachers in over 57 countries.
I’ve always found it interesting that John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme on December 9, 1964, just days prior to Iyengar’s birthday. Coltrane’s career-defining album-length suite contained 33-minutes of heartfelt prayer in music. Much like Iyengar, Coltrane has been viewed as more than human by many. What really linked the two men, in my mind, was their incessant need to practice, practice, practice.
Jazz authority Nat Hentoff wrote, “By the time A Love Supreme hit (1965), Trane struck such a spiritual chord in so many listeners that people started to think of him as being beyond human. I think that’s unfair. He was just a human being, like you and me – but he was willing to practice more, do all the things that somebody has to do to excel. The real value in what Coltrane did was that what he accomplished, he did as a human.”
Last night I attended Ravi Coltrane’s concert at SFJAZZ, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s iconic recording. This morning I did my 99-minute yoga practice with A Love Supreme playing in the background. I played the CD three times. Although I don’t usually mix my passions, it felt right to honor two masters that have made my time on earth so worth living!