Month in Pune, India 2019
I’m sick with some kind of flue. There is a virus going around, people sneezing, coughing, noses running… Also my eyes are red and running, feel like body is burning. However being here in Pune for only one month, staying in bed feels like a waste of time. So at least I decided to go and observe the class, especially since on Wednesday there is a woman class.
Iyengars daughter Sunita was teaching. She is direct and concise and nothing escapes her eye.
It is a backhanding week so, reminding everyone about that, she started the class.
U.TRIKONASANA – here she spent quite some time explaining that turning of the leg should be on the heel, (that gives buttock activity) mentioning that Iyengar was teaching like that for at least first 30years, than later he started teaching heel/arch alignment.
U.PARSVAKONASANA – go low, touch the thigh, turn
UTTANASANA —> PADANGUSTASANA – extend and lengthen
SIRSASANA – preparing for backbend. Legs back like you would drop but don’t
ADHO MUKHA VRIKSASANA
URDHVA DHANURASANA – if you can do from standing, if not then from the floor. Then those who were not able to do rom standing went to do with wall, learning to arch and bring arms over.
Everyone now did Urdha Dhanurasana and went for VIPARITA DANDASANA
KAPOTASANA from Supta Virasana
Fever came back at the evening, so this means resting time for me. Hopefully not for too long.
Again going back to food. It’s essential part of our life, right?
This is how our evenings look, or better to say our dinner. Different variations of fruit salat. Maybe some will say, oh but the fruit should not be eaten after 6pm (at least according to ayurveda) and yes I agree. However it really suits our little group to have something fresh and light at the end of the day and after observing evening class.
Rajlaxmi, with focus on spine into the body:
AM Swastikasana – elongate
AM Virasana – elongate
AMS – elongate, lower trunk has to get extension
UTTANASANA – concave, create length
Here she switched to the faster gear
AMS-TRIKONASANA (change legs)-AMS-UMS-Uttanasana-AMS-UMS-AMS-VIRA II-PARSVAKONASANA-AMS (other side) – AMS-UMS-AMS-UTTANASANA- AMS-VIRA I-VIRA III- VIRA I – AMS (other side) – AMS-UMS-AMS-UTTANASANA – hold elbows, rest
AMS – ARDHA CANDRASANA – AMS – ARDHA C. – AMS – UMS – AMS – UTTANASANA – PARSVOTTANASANA – UTTANASANA – PARSVOTTANASANA – UTTANASANA
SIRSASANA – spine in, middle buttocks in
-parsva eka pada
AM VRIKSASANA spine into the body
DANDASANA – from tailbone itself extend up, spine in and lift arms. Maintaining that extend forward into PASCHIMOTTANASANA arms long next to the feet, extend. Bend elbows. Concave.
JANU SIRSASANA – turn from lower abdomen and pelvis rim to go forward. Hold foot concave. Full pose. To come out concave.
JANU SIRSASANA – hold foot from outside and lay outside of the leg as much as you can to extend. Then finish the pose. To come out, concave.
TRIANGMUKHA EKAPADA PASCIMOTTANASANA – sam work, don’t forget concave back bore exiting the pose
ARDHA PADMA PASCHIMOTTANASANA – have a padma leg lose. Same work
- first turn, then hold foot and concave. spine in. Go down, extend.
- hold hands behind, go down, there can’t be a big gape. Concave before going out.
PACHIMOTTANASANA – head on legs or blanket
PARSVA UPAVISTA KONASANA – go outside of the foot like JS, when coming out concave, lift up!
AM UK – concave, full, concave
UBHAYA PADANGUSTASANA – concave, full
HALASANA – spine in – S. SARVANGASANA – from tailbone lift up. Virasana legs middle buttocks in. straighten the legs. EKA PADA S.S. – touch the floor 2x – HALASANA
With yoganushasanam behind us and festivities of celebrating Gurujis 101 birthday and Geetajis first year Punyatithi, regular schedule of activities and classes in Institute continued.
Here is the sequence we had with Rajlaxmi, with focus on opening of collar bones:
Upavista Konasana —> Parsva UK
- elbow outside of the leg
- go forward, turn trunk and Parivrita UK
Janu Sirsasana —> arm outside of leg —> JS —> Parivrita JS —> JS
Parivrita paschimottanasana —> Paschimottanasana
Malasana —> Uttanasana —> Parsva Uttanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana —> Parsva
Parsvottanasana walk forward for extension
Tadasana – inner knees to outer knees
Vira II —> U. Parsvakoansana
Vira I —> Vira III
Setu Bandha from Halasana
– eka pada
From morning to late afternoon we are spending in PVC Hindu Gymkhana (which is private cricket club) having, I would say, historical discussions on further development of Iyengar yoga system of mentorship and assessment. Assembled are around 300 assessors/assessors to be, mentors/mentors to be, members of board of Iyengar associations from different countries, teacher / senior teachers with years fo experience in Iyengar yoga from all over the world.
Are we, are you ready for change?
On the first day Abhijata open the session with the announcement that we all will be now assessed by Prashant. And she left the room under excuse she has to prepare some things. She was gone for 5 minutes, during which there was a complete silence in the room. When she came back and explained that this is not going to happened she graciously gave everyone few minutes to breathe again in relief. Her point was how do we feel before the assessment and then very nicely explained the psychology of our thoughts during those 5min.
Anxiety, fear, stress, doubts…. – questions like what kind of assessment, ok Guruji and Geetaji but we all know Prashant is different; will I pass or fail, what I will tell my friends/students if I fail and so on? Who in the room was neutral or happy that they are going to be assess by Prashant and to have their knowledge reevaluated, she asked.
In Gurujis time assessment was done without people aspiring, or even without people knowing they were being assessed. However he was watching them. Ideally would be that teacher assess his/her own students. They know them the best. However can we assess ourselves that we can be objective, clear, honest in that approach? Because of our subjectivity and tendency to partiality or favoritism, system was made that student are assessed by another teachers.
That anxiety we experience we have to examine ourselves if the anxiety level is too much for us to bare. How do we deal with that? Anxiety is and will always be there but in some case it can even make us preform better. However fear is not good. Fear doesn’t unable us to disconnect ourselves to think that assessment is good so we can see where we stand.
Like little children doing exam, they want to score well and they want to impress teacher and others. Do we do exams/assessments in the same state? We have past childhood, no?
There are variety of things we do for assessment, variety of ‘sacrifices’ and some examples she gave are on extreme note. Putting the life on hold for assessment if not a good thing. Yoga is life.
So environment for assessment should be as close as possible to natural, normal, friendly, without pressure of hierarchy, so assessment can be realistic, objective and without judgment.
At the end Prashant also mentioned that times are different now, then they were before.
At Gurujis time yoga was UNKNOWN, so he had to introduce yoga to people. Today yoga is MIS-KNOWN. No-one will come to your class as a blank paper. Because of mass-media, information is available to everyone and surely they googled yoga or Iyengar yoga before coming to you. And Guruji had to impress people to teach, now we have to teach to impress.
Are you teaching what we are thought or are we teaching what we have learned?
In the afternoon we had a session were they were discussed difficulties of IY Associations, of managerial nature. Many spoke, openly and honestly. Definitely as we grow as community there are issues that are coming up and that need to be dealt with.
On the second day we were given draft paper of the future outlook of assessment system and certification system. And I will just say that it is a big change, it is a big challenge. And if we are honest, we all know how repulsive we can be to changes and challenges, however if we manage to go through it, I believe we will grow as a community.
This morning, there was a Puja (worship) with mantra chanting going on during our whole personal practice from 9am till noon. It was creating nice atmosphere. Hall was getting fuller and fuller after 10am, there was almost no place to put your mat on and if you moved from your mat on ropes, or trestle, or somewhere else, most probably when you come back there would be someone else on your spot.
After midday and in the afternoon there was registration for Yoganushasanam and although nicely organized and managed, you couldn’t avoid waiting in the lines for this and for that and for another. However being in India, where things are slow and easy going, everything was done and finished without much fuss. Actually being in the line and waiting you got opportunity to meet Iyengar yoga friends from all over the world, that you don’t see so often and have a nice little chat. Many came just today only for this event and you could see some tired faces, still everyone with a big smile on their faces.
We did a pranayama class with Prashant this evening. Many points that were mentioned and I didn’t manage to write the notes yet. I have no clue how much time I will have during Yoganushasanam, to post updates, our schedule looks quite busy. Not to leave you without munching on something till the next time, here is a sequence I observed from Gulnaz.
Dynamic forward bends with emphasis on strong leg work:
from Uttanasana Urdha Prasarita Ekapadasana
AMS – Uttanasana
TMEPP – no props and do not use hands to place the legs in position (of course, if you have problem you will use them) 2x create length
Paschimottanasana – extend
Maricyasana I – 3x create length. 4th time go quickly 3x then stay and finish the pose
Paschimottanasana – quickly
Ardha Baddha padma p. – 3x
S.Sarvangasana, in Halasana create good chin lock, and keep it while you go up
Halasana / Karnapidasana
Like on every class with Prashant, there are many things said. To follow and apply during the class and remember everything is like an impossible task. But something always stays, point or two. Well, we started the class with any pose we thought was right pose for us to start. We were given choice, and then Sirsasana – for 15 min, variations if you wanted. After that every other pose should be done like Sirsasana. Poses where “brainalized”.
Prashant mentioned we are all colored people. And he stressed out that he doesn’t speak about our outside color. There are three gunas – tamas (ignorance), rajas (passion) and satva (goodness) and they all have their corresponding colors. Tamas is black, rajas is red and stave is white. We all are combination of those colors. Those more in tamas have more black, but red and white are also present, and so on many combinations are there. Our actions, thoughts, desires, etc are all colored in those shades.
Was it last year or when, that India banned plastic? Don’t remember, but government made decision and it happened.
In huge country like India, with huge population they have, it happened almost over night. So now when you go shopping you get paper bags, you drink coconut with paper straws and sugarcane juice from paper cups, and so on. Of course there is still plastic packaging but shops definitely made change. On the streets there is much more plastic then I remember, and I went many time to India to
different places and also lived for some years as well.
So if they can make this change in such a relatively short time, what is wrong with Europe or America or any other country or continent, per that matter? Why this can’t be done? And we consider ourselves more….(something, whatever).
It’s a huge topic and could write load about it, maybe some other time, but it’s nice to see it happen here and I wanted to share this with you.
We had great class with Raya with focus on spine – paraspinal muscles and anterior spine
There was a lot done and said during the class. Here is a sequence what I can remember, and I might not remember it all of in correct order, sorry for that. However if you would like to practice it.
Adho Mukha Virasana – holding heels
Adho Mukha Virasana – extending the arms forward
Adho Mukha Svanasana
– Urdhva Hasta Dandasana and turn
– Parsva Dandasana
– Parsva Dandasana holding the foot
Adho Mukha Svanasana
AMS —> Parivrita Trikonasana
– hand inside of the foot
– hand outside of the foot
AMS —>Parivirta Parsvakonasana
– hand inside of the foot
– hand outside of the foot
– holding the knee with elbow
– holding the foot
Dandasana —> Purvotanasana (few times, really lifting the buttocks)
UMS (few times, pull toenails towards you and lift the chest, look up)
– lifting the buttocks
– lifting the front foot up, press the heels
– walk slightly forward and straighten the legs
– elbows high
– strat with elbows high then rest them on the floor
Paschimottanasana (same work like JS)
S.Sarvangasana on two rolled blankets
– Urdha Padmasana
I love Indian food, spices, variety, colors, way of eating, culture. Actually while staying in India I learned how to cook, so even now, in my home in Croatia, we cook very often ‘Indian style’. However being here again is paradise for food lovers.
Every day after the class and our practice we get a Coconut. It is cooling for body and after the practice the best thing you can have for refreshments. You can have with Malai, it is a bit sweeter plus you get the soft flesh (that later becomes dry coconut) to eat. Or you get just the water.
While here we don’t cook. There are too many activities we want to focus on and not spend time for cooking, so we are lucky to order our food and get warm, freshly cooked meal brought to us every day. Meal includes chapatis or rotes (indian round bread), rice, dhal soup, vegetables one or two. I can’t have wheat at the moment so she even makes millet chapatis for me. Her name is Rucha, she is in Pune guide for Iyengar yogis and she is more than recommended. Feeling very grateful.
Just shortly for those who don’t know Prashant Iyengar, his classes are much different than anything you ever experienced if you ever went for an Iyengar yoga class. You hold poses for very long time and there are no any physical / anatomical instructions for the pose. On his classes it is expected you know what you have to do in the pose. Work in asana is on the different level. He is constantly guiding your mind and intellect to find, reach, experience the subtlety and profoundness of asana you are in. Philosophy is constantly interwoven in his elaborate explanations with rich /visual and to us easily understandable examples and analogies. Although his linguistic and playing with english language is sometimes difficult to grasp.
Like for example this morning he mentioned word ‘spineless’ and what is the meaning behind this word, as well as trying to inspire us to think more about the language we use. Also if there is word like spineless in english, why then there is not word like ’spinefull’ ?
This morning class with Prashant was centered about pelvic region – Muladhara. How this base is root and support for functions in the body, mind and breath.
He gave analogy of Swiss army knife – if someone never saw it it will not know what it is – maybe only that comes from Switzerland and that is a knife. However it is much more than that. So our base is not only that -base (knife), it is much more, it affects whats happening in the body, mind and breath and brings consciousness to the higher level.
He also spoke a lot about us getting stuck on achieving the asana or appearance of the classical asana, so much so that we are missing the process happening inside.
30.11. – 02.12.2019.
We opted for train to Pune, instead of usual taxi drive and it was a good decision. Trip was comfortable, it took us little more than 3.5h, no street noise, no pollution, no waiting and sweating on the road. It was also cheaper. On the Pune railways station there is a Uber stall next to the taxis. He can order Uber for you if you don’t have Indian phone number. Fast and easy.
Our first day in Pune started with personal practice and registration. Hall is open from 9am till noon, for everyone who wants to have their own practice. I did a program for the knees and it struck me during the practice that although there were around 80 people in the hall, the atmosphere was peaceful and it was very quiet. It is good feeling to practice with others and at the same time be in your own practice. From time to time you would hear Abhijata correcting someone or helping them in certain asana.
In the evening we went for class with Gulnaz. She was jolly and in a good mood, although she had us go 50x from Urdha Hasta Dandasana into Urdha Prasarita Padasana and back 🙂
26.11. – 30.11.2019
I didn’t get time to get excited or pack beforehand, since I held the classes until the last day, for my trip to Pune, India for a month of further development education in Iyengar yoga. Only after being in the plane I did realize my trip is really happening.
Days before my trip, Croatia was rainy and cloudy, so flying high above the clouds that were like a white snow under the sunny sky, it made me realize that when we are down (in spirit, mentally, physically, emotionally) we are in the state when we see only gray and shades of gray, and only after we lift above our negativity, above those thick and gray clouds above us, we can see the lightness and brightness and get different perspective.
Or in that sense, if we are down our problems can look big and heavy, like a huge skyscrapers. However, like flying in the airplane, going higher and higher….if we manage to transcend the situation, to go to the higher plane of consciousness, our problems will start to look a bit smaller and then bit more smaller until they are like a little dots I saw looking down from my airplane window.
Landing down to Mumbai I was greeted by warm air, that suited me quite well, although it was around midnight. Uber is an excellent way to travel while in India, of course it helps if you have internet of Indian phone number. Our accommodation was in Hostel Horn OK Please, that was very good (although it’s in the area that looks a bit freakish), we met a lot of young westerners, used a local train for transportation and found good restaurants to eat.
We spent one week in Mumbai attending Iyengar yoga classes with senior teachers like Firooza and Jawahar, as well as some touristic visits in area like Juhu beach and ISKCON temple with excellent and tasty buffet, and Elephanta Island. I find it was a very good arrangement since it gave us time to get accustomed to the time change, temperature, food and since last week of the month is usually restorative practice we gradually adjusted our body and mind and nervous system.