All posts by Pune15

THE JOURNEY HOME

December 15, 2015

Got up at 3:00 am to do Pranayama. After Geetaji’s teaching I am feeling more inspired than ever. I did my final packing and was picked up by the Shirodkars at 5:45 am and this time had to say ‘Goodbye’.
Joined a bunch of students at Pune Airport on their way to Bangalore. They were from several European countries and were on their way to Guruji’s birthplace; I missed out on this as I had already booked my tickets for India before the trip to Bellur had been announced. I flew from Pune to Delhi and changed for the flight to Frankfurt.
I arrived in Frankfurt in the early evening – quite a contrast between India and Germany!! Enjoyed a spicy pasta dinner and settled into my room.
After doing my morning practices, I went to check in for my flight. Very convenient as the hotel is actually in the airport. I took off around Noon and thanks to the time difference was actually in the house with Paul and the cats around 3:00 pm. Paul met me at the airport and I must say that although I had a great time in so many ways, it was really good to be back home.

GURUJI’S BIRTHDAY

December 14, 2015

Had an early start this morning with another trip to Vaishali; got there at 8:30 am. Because a couple of the graduates of the class of 2015 were at the Intensive, I and two other faculty members, Jito and Victoria decided to have a mini graduation ceremony in Pune and what better location than Vaishali?? The two graduates Ruchi and Theresa shared how much the two year program at iyisf had changed their lives and myself and the two other faculty members said something.
From there, I had to make a trip to RIMYI. Apart from registering on the first day, I had not been to the Institute. I needed to place an order for some CD’s and I spent a little time soaking up the vibration of the place, recognizing I would be leaving the following day. Today I had a very nice rickshaw driver. He took me from the hotel to the restaurant, waited for me, took me to the Institute and then back to the hotel.

There was a nice coffee place in the lobby of the hotel and I met the Shirodkars and my friend Liina from Helsinki there. We enjoyed a short visit before getting ready to go to Guruji’s birthday event.
It began at 6:00 pm at Govinda Gardens which is close to the Institute. Upon arrival there we were able to pick up the DVD’s covering the whole intensive. I’m looking forward to looking at them; I know I picked up a lot but also missed a lot.
The program began with Rajvi Metha thanking everyone for being there (2,000 in attendance) and explaining the format for the evening. She expressed the enormous role that Guruji had played in her life. Various long time teachers from around the world shared their personal experiences with Guruji which gave all present quite a bit of insight into his big life. Prashantji was the last one to speak and as to be expected gave a unique perspective on his father and his life as a supreme teacher and us his students who did not deserve to have a teacher of that caliber.
After the talks, Prasad was offered but I had to leave as I had an early flight the next day and the Shirodkars were waiting for me. Needless, the event went on much longer than scheduled. Got back to my hotel room and shared some snacks and Italian beer with my Shirodkars. We obviously did not want to say ‘Goodbye’ but I did have one more chance to see them as they were taking me to the airport.

GBdayPic

LAST CLASS also FIRST CLASS

December 13, 2015
She began the class with a description of the challenges faced in the practice of Pranayama by Guruji in his early days. Partly because of exhaustion from cycling around Pune he could not sustain a practice; he received major support from his wife. She said that Pranayama should be taken up by those who have a good asana practice particularly Inversions and capacity for relaxation.
Cycles:
– Bahya Viloma
– Bahya Abhyantara Viloma
– Mahamudra
– Savasana

Second Session
– Surya Bhedana
– Chandra Bhedana
– Preparation for Dhyana

We sat in Virasana for a period with guidance on postural aspects.
Geetaji expressed to us that the last three limbs of Ashtanga Yoga cannot be taught. Our capacity to do it depends first of all on incorporating the precepts into our lives. That will allow us to approach the Asana and Pranayama in a more integrated manner.
She compared the physical body to a car.
For the car to be useful, there has to be a seat inside. Then the seat itself has to be corrected adjusted in terms of height, firmness, etc. In a similar manner the body has to be fit for meditation.
The Intensive closed with much applause for Geetaji and the many others who made it is possible.
There were a large number of volunteers – teachers taking care of individual problems on the floor; teachers demonstrating on the stage; those who prepared the prop kits; did registration and many more. I am grateful to Geetaji in particular for sharing her wisdom but also to all the others who contributed.

After class I went to the Vaishali and had a Masala Dosa – generally I frequent this place regularly but because of the full schedule, I had not been able to visit until now; the experience was worth waiting for – DELICIOUS!!!

Talking about delicious, in the evening paid a visit to the Shirodkar family; I took my friends Melanie, Ruchi and Theresa along.
It was a lovely visit. Sunil’s mother is 97 years old and was happy that one of my friends could converse with her in Hindi – really brightened her up. Shubhangi offered us a real treat with a wide array of delicious flavors.
Went back to the hotel and started looking at my suitcase and the stuff that was supposed to fit inside!

puttputt

rimyi

Shirodinner

RIGOROUS RESTORATIVES

December 12, 2015
– Supta Swastikasana
– Supta Baddha Konasana
– Supta Virasana
– Upa Vista Konasana
– Upa Vista Konasana with right leg bent then take left on top for open Padmasana – baddanguliasana on each side;
– Reverse the process for the leg position and repeat the work in the arms
– Padmasana – first side – lie back on foams – arms in baddanguliasana on each side; release arms and stretch them overhead with arms spread wide
– Repeat on second Padmasana side
– Uttanasana – feet spread
– Sirsasana – no variations
– Sarvangasana – spent some time in Halasana emphasizing weight on tops of shoulders and then Sarvangasana
– Setu Bandha – supported on two foams and four blankets.
When I call the class ‘rigorous’ it is not in the obvious way. It was more mentally rigorous making the mind sharp for Pranayama. There are these restorative sessions when it is easy to fall into a tamasic state – NOT the case with Geetaji.

PRANAYAMA
Began the session with flat Savasana with weight on the leg; she gave many great points to encourage relaxation with an emphasis on keeping naval quiet and broad.

Moved to seated Pranayama
Cycles covered:
– Ujjayi
– Antara Kumbhaka
– Anuloma
– Pratiloma

AFTERNOON EVENT
Experiences in Teaching Iyengar Yoga
The session began with Rajvi Metha sharing some of her stories about taking yoga into areas where it may not be readily accepted. She talked about the fact that it was Guruji who pointed out that if they wanted to be successful it may be a good idea not to go with shorts and a t-shirt but to do their best to fit in.
Manouso Manos shared a story about taking yoga into a high security prison. Listening to these stories gives us an idea about how far reaching the effects of Iyengar Yoga really are. It is easy to think of yoga as something practiced by middle class people who can afford it. I myself am interested in getting yoga to a wider audience and was somewhat successful offering a Community Class at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco for many years.
Enjoyed my own company at the hotel in the evening.

TWISTING THE MORNING AWAY

December 11, 2015
– Adho Mukha Svanasana
– Uttanasana
– Parsva Uttanasana to right
– Uttanasana
– Parsva Uttanasana to left
– Uttanasana holding ankles and drawing the torso towards the legs
– Parrivrta Trikonasana – same pose with block by inner foot; then classical pose.
– Parrivrta Parsvakonasana – did it the same way as the previous pose
– Parrivrta Janu Sirsasana
– Parrivrta Upa Vista Konasana
– Parrivrta Janu Sirsasana
– Marichyasana 3 x 2
– Ardha Matsyendrasana x 2
– Supta Padangusthasana 1 to 2
– Savasana

This was a strong twisting class with much emphasis on elongating the spine. In the standing twists by placing the block inside the foot, we had the space to open the chest and tried to reproduce the experience in the classical version. One instruction she repeated was softening the lower side of the torso which helped to get more access to the turn.
In the seated twists we continued to emphasize the lift of the chest searching for the space. I have not done all of these seated twists together for a while and I will certainly be doing this sequence again.
After squeezing the inner organs the lateral Supta Padangusthasana felt DIVINE!!

PRANAYAMA

We began with Savasana over two foams and a blanket. Geetaji has the perfect voice for teaching yoga in general but particularly good for Pranayama in my opinion. She explained that Pranayama is an expression from the inside and not a breathing exercise as such. Although we have been exposed to this concept a lot I feel that I got a deeper understanding of it this time. There was more time spent not just on doing Pranayama but she also lectured fairly extensively on how important it is to be prepared. She gave an example of someone who saw that Guruji wrote that Nadi Shodhana was good for reducing Blood Pressure but didn’t get the result he expected. Geetaji said that the Nadis have to be open for this to happen probably part of the reason that we focused on Anuloma and Pratiloma so much.

Afternoon Event
Today we had Q&A with Geetaji
Students mainly asked questions about physical problems they were experiencing and I have to say her eye is exceptional. She plugs into the source of the problem almost immediately and comes up with ways to address it that practical and effective. It is quite impressive to witness how habits of the body can be changed very quickly with her expertise. I hope those who were lucky to receive such effective solutions to their problems will continue to practice daily what she offered so they can get a permanent benefit.

I spent the evening in the restaurant on the 24th floor of the hotel. It is called Paasha; the food is delicious and we paid San Francisco prices. In the photo you can see me and my friends having a good time – Deborah from Rio de Janeiro, Gary from Sacramento, Geraldine from Nevada City and Tim from San Rafael.
It is nice to have the chance to connect with friends from far and near.
PunePic

BEYOND BACKWARD EXTENSIONS

December 10, 2015
– Pashimanamaskarasana
– same pose head back
– Pashimabaddanguliasana
– same pose head back
Gomukasana – head back
– Parsvottanasana – upright head back
– Uttanasana – concave back; gradually moved feet further and further away until we came to Prasarita Padottanasana – observing that when the feet were spread further it was easier to move the tail bone in.
– Salabhasana – one leg at a time; then both legs first legs apart and then together; with the legs apart easier to get tail bone action. Do not lift the legs high up – rather encourage length of the legs so the calf muscles remain softer.
– Salabhasana – arms in pashimabaddanguliasana
– Bhujangasana
– Danurasana – one leg at a time; then both legs x 3
– Prone Natarajasana
– Sirsasana – variations – Parsva Sirsasana; Parrivrta Eka Pada Sirsasana; Upa Vista Konasana; Baddha Konasana
– Ustrasana x 3
– Urdhva Danurasana x 3
– Salamba Sarvangasana
– Savasana
This was an extremely well crafted back bending class.
Geetaji shared at the beginning of the session that since we didn’t have chairs and some of the other props which we generally use to prepare for backbendings, she would be conducting the class accordingly.
Beginning with the arm movements, we created considerable mobility in the upper back and shoulders. With the prone backbends we created both heat in the body and length in the quads and groins, essential for keeping the length in the lumbar during the practice of backbends.
Doing Sirsasana after these fundamental backbends, allowed us to work the chest and shoulder blades more appropriately and access the strength in our legs because the groins were more open.
Then we went back to backbendings beginning with Ustrasana. Because of the previous asanas presented, both Ustrasana and Urdhva Danurasana seemed relatively easy. We did each pose 3 times followed by Salamba Sarvangasana and Savasana

PRANAYAMA
After relaxing in Savasana, we continued to work Ujjayi both lying down and sitting. In sitting she continued to work on digital pranayama followed by Savasana.

AFTERNOON EVENT
The classical music concert was wonderful with Pt. Atulkumar Upadhye on violin and Pt. Mukesh Jadhav on tabla. At the end of the concert there was a very sweet connection between Geetaji and the musicians. The violin player’s father was Prashantji’s first violin teacher and Geetaji was sitting right up and center enjoying the music.

After the concert I got together with Liina and her husband Marcus. I met Liina several years ago while teaching in Helsinki. For the past couple of years they have come to my workshop at Yoga Am Bach in the Black Forest.
We ate at a hotel close to the venue. It was fun to catch up and I had by 2nd non Indian meal since I got to India in November 30, 2015 – a veggie burger, fries and ketchup!!!

FAR OUT FORWARD EXTENSIONS

– Adho Mukha Virasana
– knees apart and then knees together
– Adho Mukha Svanasana
– Uttanasana – feet spread
– Parsvottanasana – concave back
– Parsvottanasana – classical pose
– Prasarita Padottanasana – concave back
– Prasarita Padottanasana – head on floor
– Dandasana
– Pashimottanasana
– Janu Sirsasana
– Pashimottanasana
– Sirsasana – variations – Parsva; Eka Pada; Parsva Eka Pada; Baddha Konasana
– Salamba Sarvangasana – variations – Eka Pada; drop backs to Setu Bandha Geetaji began the class with an emphasis on shoulder blade action. We did Adho Mukha Virasana with palms pressing on to foam blocks lifting the chest forward and up.
We also did Adho Mukha Svanasana with palms elevated on foam blocks to help us to connect to shoulder blades.
The standing poses also involved moving the shoulder blades deeper and deeper inside.
To encourage the extension and rotation of the legs in Dandasana, we used a strap around the calves and thighs. This use of belts really helped to get the sense of firmness in the legs and a sense of direction in terms of the actions.
In seated forward extensions, she emphasized the length and width of the torso. She said that when we put butter on toast we spread it on the whole slice in such a way that the slice is entirely covered. While coming forward we should spread the trunk long and wide over the legs as though we were buttering toast. We spent quite a lot of time drawing the body forwards and outwards by bending the elbows; not exactly what I would refer to as a relaxing forward extension; I can’t believe how much juice Geetaji can get out of any pose you care to mention and for that matter out of us, the students.
Sirsasana and Sarvangasana and the variations incorporated much of what we did previously in terms of the legs and the chest.

PRANAYAMA
The theme in Pranayama is to approach it in a gentle manner. It is not an exercise, it is YOGA. Preparing the body through conscientious practice of asanas is what is required. She emphasized not doing too many types in one session. Today we did Ujjayi lying over a chest opening prop and then she taught some digital cycles; we would inhale and exhale through the right nostril and then take a few normal breaths releasing our hand down until we did 3 sets; same with the left nostril; we did this 3 times, making a total of 9 cycles. We always ended with plain Savasana.

The afternoon session was entitled ‘Exposition on some of Guruji’s Quotes’
I was really looking forward to this session as I base my monthly email newsletter on a quote of his. I was not disappointed.
Paxti from Spain, Zubin from India; Birjoo from India and Eddy from the USA were the speakers.

Over and above far out yoga, this was a far out day in general.
I got back to my room to find that my gorgeous glasses had been delivered by Dr. Lele, one of my long time Pune friends.
My other close friends the sweet Shirodkar family came to the hotel to pick me up to take me to one of the two shops I need to visit while in Pune – PNG Jewelers and and an incense shop. I’ve already been to PNG so tonight I got to go to the incense shop. The name of the shop is Vithaldas Narayandas & Sons and they have been in the business of producing fine incense and essential oils for a few generations. I love these small businesses that continue to survive because their products are so good.
We came back to the hotel and had a delicious Indian dinner on the 24th Floor of the hotel. Good time was enjoyed by all.
A very full and satisfying day.
Glasses

BEAUTIFUL BALANCING ASANAS

December 8, 2015

– Adho Mukha Virasana
– Adho Mukha Svanasana
– Uttanasana
– Tadasana
– Utthita Trikonasana
– Ardha Chandrasana x 3
– Virabhadrasana 1 to 3 x 3
– Upa Vista Konasana
– Dandasana
– Virasana
– Malasana – feet apart
– Malasana – feet together
– Janu Sirsasana
– Triang Mukha Pada Pashimottanasana
– Sirsasana
– Chatush Padasana
– Salamba Sarvangasana
– Salamba Sarvangasana – dropping back into Setu Bandha several times

The poses in the class were beautifully linked together.
In terms of standing poses there was an emphasis on the balancing ones working the legs firmly; in Ardha Chandrasana we had to work the back leg strongly so from that steadiness we could open the chest.
The second variation involved turning the foot of the standing leg slightly out to create more space in the groin and then doing the classical version again.
In Virabhadrasana 3 we moved into the pose from Virabhadrasana 1 with the arms extending forwards. It is not easy to maintain the space in the chest so she asked us to spread our arms to the side as we went from 1 to 3. It was a nice feeling in the chest. We tried to reproduce the feeling by doing the classical version again. There was a rhythm to the way she taught the one legged poses – stabilizing the standing leg first, then stabilizing the uplifted leg and opening the chest from there.
A lot of time was spent in Sirsasana, particularly Ardha Sirsasana. She explained the foundation of the pose by instructing to cut the forearms sharply into the floor and to maintain the space between the forearms and the shoulders – she referred to this space as ‘Windows’ and the importance of keeping them open to protect the neck. Several times we walked the feet in resisting with the thoracic region and observing the length in the side body trying to keep both sides even.
Then we lifted one leg at a time trying to avoid the collapse on the opposite side and making the lifted leg strong. Finally went up into Sirsasana itself which was quite a relief. Ardha Sirsasana is twice as difficult as Sirsasana!!!
After doing Salamba Sarvangasana we dropped into Setu Bhanda several times with a lot of emphasis on chest opening.
We had a short break and then did Pranayama with chest support. We did Brahmari in both the lying and seated variations.

– Savasana

The afternoon session was entitled ‘Revisiting Guruji’s Teaching’. This was a video of the workshop that he taught to celebrate his 75th Birthday. It took place in Panchgani. It was really enjoyable to watch and he covered some of the poses taught earlier by Geetaji with similar points presented. We had a chance to ask questions about Guruji’s teaching for clarification. I’m not sure if the video of that teaching is available, but I would highly recommend it based on what we saw today.

THE FIRST CLASS WAS FIRST CLASS

December 7, 2015
Today was our first class practicing asanas under the expert guidance of Geetaji. The focus was on standings and the following asanas were taught:
– Tadasana
– Tadasana with Urdhva Hastasana arms
– Utthita Trikonasana
– Upa Vista Konasana
– Utthita Parsvakonasana
– Uttanasana
– Virabhadrasana 2
– Adho Mukha Svanasana
– Virabhadrasana 1
– Chatush Padasana
– Short Break
– Savasana

When you take a class with a member of the Iyengar family, it’s not about the asanas taught, it’s about the emphasis.
Geetaji talked about the difference of going through the poses mechanically and doing the poses to get more in touch with the inner body. Making connections.
In Tadasana she talked about opening the soles of the feet and keeping the outer edges of the feet firm.
For Urdhva Hastasana, we first did the pose stretching the arms overhead the traditional way; then we spread the arms to the side and then up. With these variations we explored the effects on the arms, the shoulders and upper back and also how the lumbar was affected differently by these two variations.
We held the poses for some time and linked all standings to Tadasana.
Upa Vista was taught to give us a rest. We studied the opening of the soles of the feet in that pose where we were not bearing weight on them.
In terms of the movement of the arms she said that it should be initiated in the upper arm, not below the elbow.
In the lateral standings she talked about the indentation at the hip socket which really stabilized the pelvis.
Uttanasana was taught as a relaxing pose – feet wide encouraging the side body to open.
Adho Mukha Svanasana was taught as a gateway in to Virabhadradana 1 After placing the feet we created a very strong lift of the arms attempting to maintain it as we went into the 90 degree angle on the front leg.
Chatush Padasana was taught as a recovery pose with emphasis on lifting the chest and lifting the heels and walking the feet in. Once we shaped the chest in this manner, we placed our hands on our back ribs Salamba Sarvangasana style.
Savasana – took quite a long time to get into it starting from Dandasana; after lying back we adjusted the pelvis in an attempt to keep the back of the waist long. The accurate placement was emphasized.
When I write up the class it seems pretty straight forward in a way but with the energy that Geetaji puts into her teaching and the fact that she understands the poses so well, I get into quite a deep experience and get a fresh sense of the power of yoga.

USE OF PROPS WITH ABIJATA

The afternoon sessions are more of a lecture format and Guruji’s granddaughter did a fine job. She began her talk with the history of props as developed by her grandfather.
She explained that his motivation for helping people in this way was because he had empathy for them. When someone had a problem and could not do an asana he would put himself in their shoes and then recognizing the problem from inside himself, he would figure where the support was required.
He began with simple supports and over time developed a grand variety of props. He realized over time that one and all could benefit from props in a variety of ways.
– to develop confidence;
– to receive support;
– to experience openings in areas of restriction – a few of the examples she mentioned.
She talked about not looking at the props as inanimate objects but getting clear on what we need so we have a relationship to the props which is fresh and new and appropriate to the moment.
There were quite a few practical ways on use of props presented, for example a variety of ways to use the tressler in Ardha Chandradana.

These are full and nourishing days.
Went back to the hotel and met a friend for a light dinner in the Lounge and then had a relatively early night.

AWESOME ORIENTATION

December 6, 2015

Since the Orientation went from 4:00-6:00 pm, I went to visit my friends, Avinash and Bharati Lele in the Kamala Neru District of Pune. First they took me to an Ayurvedic Store. My primary reason for wanting to go there was to get Nir Dosh Ayurvedic cigarettes for Pat Layton. It turns out that they had a variety of herbal cigarettes Ayurvedic style and I bought some of all of them; kind of tempted to try one but figure I have enough smoke from the atmosphere going into my lungs. This store also had a range of Patanjali items; it seems that Patanjali is diversifying and is selling toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner and soap and I now have a supply of sacred toiletry items.
Then we went to the Eye Doctor, a friend of the Leles and I got two sets of frames and lenses and a lovely pair of sun glasses for $65.00. What a deal!!
eyedoc

We then went back to the Leles’ house and had a tour of their organic roof from their grandson who is 5 years old. What a bright and sociable child – probably because of a minimum of electronic devices he has access to.
After a serious check out of the garden, had a delicious lunch prepared by Bharati. I am so impressed by these folks who continue to learn. The lunch was based on a combination of Ayurvedic wisdom and modern nutritional information. I can’t wait for them to do another cooking class at our house in San Francisco. the last time was too long ago.
Lelegarden

LeleGarden2

In the afternoon we showed up at the site for Geetaji’s intensive orientation.
The presentation began with Guruji’s priest, Nataraj Shastri invoking the Purusha Sutra.
Then Geetaji gave a very inspiring talk about yoga.
Compared to other subjects, it is an inner learning. With many subjects, you have access to external sources such as colleges, books, etc. but with yoga you need to look inside.
The learning has to be approached in an organized manner and inner discipline is required.
The model is ethically based so it is imperative that we begin by studying the precepts – Yamas and Niyamas. She talked about how Guruji described the eight limbs of yoga as the eight petals of yoga and how each petal makes up the whole flower. The flower doesn’t bloom at once; it is a gradual process – the color and size of the petals changes until the flower is in full bloom. That is how we grow in yoga.
She talked about how the fear of death was one of the obstacles to progressing in our practice. You all like to celebrate birthdays but want to remain young.
Using the precepts as a foundation, changes the way we approach the formal practice – asana and pranayama.
It is important to develop ourselves so that the ego is not boosted.
The final three petals cannot be taught. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi must be approached from the inside based on the learning we have already done.
I am giving a few points that spoke to me. The talk was extremely engaging and a great beginning to the course which begins tomorrow. Can’t wait.
GettaJi15