Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tribute to the animals in India

This is just a sampling of animals Dana and I saw while in India. I think I can speak for both of us that the conditions are not ideal for the animals. Conditions being our very American standards of how most of us treat our animal friends. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

24 hours after India

Travelling to India had always been a dream for me.  In many ways it seems as though it was just a dream.  Just 2 days ago I was in Pune at the Iyengar Institute practicing in the practice hall.  This morning I practiced for the first time since that day.  It felt really good to sit down on my mat and to have the dogs in the room with me. I will be honest, I missed the horns honking, the stray dogs barking, and I especially missed hearing Guruji teach the young teachers at the institute.  There is something so special about being in Pune.

A couple people told me before I left that I would be a different person after going to India.  I am not sure I am a different person, just a more reflective person, a less wasteful person. India itself is an intense experience. Intense in a way that I would have never understood if I had not gone.  The smell of food, people, animals, pollution, cars, rickshaws, human waste, animal waste, trash, and the amount  of noise of more people, animals, cars, rickshaws, birds, and water were such an attack on   my already sensitive senses. Now that I am back, I realize how quiet and orderly it is here.  Most people follow traffic signals and obey the unwritten rules on the bike path.  Even our house is so clean. Our water pressure in the shower is incredible it feels like a luxury.  It is these simple things I find the most amazing right now.  I am sure as the days pass, more of this trip will unfold in the simplest of things.

This last month has made me more grateful for the life I have created.  I really do believe that we ALL have the power to create whatever life we want. Whether it is just as simple as I want to run a mile or travel the world for a year,  whatever you dream can happen.  I am going to give myself a little time though before I find another goal, or another mission to tackle.  For the first time in my life I am going to let this seep into my life and not just hurry off to the next thing.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Masala Chai and it's addictive chemicals

Today is our last day in Pune. Tomorrow we head off to Mumbai bright and early to catch our flight to London.  The time has flown by, but also seems to have taken forever....

I think the forever part is because we are not working or doing things around the house like gardening, walking the dogs, and cleaning the house.  We actually have a maid here that makes our beds, which most of the time we do ourselves. She will also occasionally wash the dishes or make us our favorite Indian dish so far called Poha.  We do our own laundry, but I think our standard of clean clothes may have dropped a few notches.  Everyday I have had time to go for a walk, read, study, do a 3-4 hour practice, meet new people over a glass of masala chai, sightsee, cross the street carefully, and even get to know my room mate a little better. What a liesurley life I seem to be leading!  I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to experience life and yoga in a different country.

The time at the Institute has flown by.  Not only because you are forced to stay present in the moment, but because I will miss little things about this place.  I will surely miss Guruji, Prashant, Geeta, and all the other teachers that have brought a new light to my practice and to my outlook in general to the way I practice.   I will not know what to do when I no longer here horns, cars backing up, dogs, people selling veggies right outside the institute windows.  Maybe I will be able to get in the state of stillness with a little more ease, maybe not.  This might be the key to pratyahara,  just have so much stimulus you are forced to ignore it and carry on.

We had our last walk around the park this morning, our last practice in the practice hall,  our last visit to the fruit and veggie cart.  Dana is making us our last meal of dahl, potatoes, carrots and spices. We will have one more pot of that chai.  Thank-god for the chai.  That smooth, creamy, sweet drink has gotten us through long rickshaw rides, sightseeing, shopping, lakshmi road, and has even been the link to Nana.  He tells his best stories while drinking chai. Even Prashant will go on and on about chai, coffee, tea.  He will describe how to cook the spices to get the right consistency.

I may not know what I will be like when I get back.  Who knows if I have changed, it is only a month I keep thinking. How can you change  in just one month? Time will tell. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Black Eyed Peas and Love all around!

The last two days have been some of my favorite days here in India.  We were invited to eat lunch at Geeta Bhojwani's house and our landlord's house Neena and Manu.  Geeta is a local resident here in Pune that has been selling unique items from around India for a long time.  She knew quite a few teachers that we know back in Denver and only had very fond memories of them.  Our first visit to her house was last Saturday night where she insisted that we not buy anything that night, but put our items in a backpack and come back to have lunch so we can make sure these are the things we really cannot live without.

Thursday was the day we had planned to have lunch and her driver would pick us up.  At 12:30 Dana and I went down to see if the car was there just about 5 minutes after the waiting time and he was there!  It's not that I do not think anything is on time here, it is just that we have really been noticing that things run on Indian time. He drives us to Geeta's where she is having some work done on her house.  New tiles have been put in, windows are being refinished, and paint will soon follow. It is such a nice space, cool white tiles, a breeze blowing in, and mouth watering smells coming from the kitchen.  We sit down after the workers take a break and she starts putting food on the table. Cauliflower and Potatoes with tumeric and onions. Fenugreek Puri's. Twice fried potatoes with mango powder and salt.  Yogurt. Rice. Black Eyed Peas in a tomato sauce that was incredible.  I could not believe she brought out those Peas. I knew this was our lucky day.

After lunch we go out to her shop and she turns on the air, gets us some chai, and we check out what we picked last time. I only put one thing back.  Dana was so funny, she loves to buy presents and it was a wonderful thing to watch.  She was thinking thoughtfully of who would like what.  During our time in the shop, Geeta would come out periodically and tell us stories that always seemed to have a similar ending.  The message was clear, love is what makes the world go round.  We are already going back again tomorrow. Not just for the shopping, but for the stories and that food.

We had lunch at Neena's yesterday and the meal could not have been more different.  We began with fresh squeezed lemonade. Food from her husbands native country Pakistan,  fresh corn and beet salad,  brown rice, squash riata, spicy potato nuggets,  and two kinds of chutneys. We finished with an ice cream of carrots, raisins, and almonds.  Chai and coffee to follow.  We talked with Neena, Manu, and Jill from Australia for almost 4 hours. Neena was carefully tending to the new Beagle puppy, Geo.  Her other 6 year old Beagle, Mojo was not all that sad to not be in that room with all the scolding of the puppy. The topic came up of what is a Guru.  Neena began to tell us the story of how she met Mom, who is the Guru at the Hari Krishna temple across the street. The house that we are staying in was actually built in the early 60's because they are devotees of the temple. She spoke of how  Mom has welcomed her into from the very beginning.  She has never cared once what cast she is in, what riches she might possess, or even her gender.  Again, the story was about Love.  All encompassing love.  

This visit to India has taught me a lot about myself.  I am judgemental.  I am afraid of things I cannot see.  I am push my feelings of anger and resentment on others.  When I return back to the states I hope I will be more forgiving, more attentive to the ones I love, and most of all be more open to new experiences. You never know who you will meet or what they will teach you:-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Exorcism Part II

Yesterday I was feeling antsy and home sick.  I could not stay still. The only things out of my mouth were, "I cannot wait to do this when I get home, I cannot wait to see Robert and the dogs." They were all followed by "I pray I stay in the moment the rest of our trip here.  To learn, to see, to experience all the culture of this country and absorb as much of Gurujis teachings that I can."

I got my wish.

Dana and I decided to get to the institute a little early this morning because they opened the women's class up yesterday to the men who were in the advanced classes. We show up and grab our props and decide to set-up near where Guruji sets up since it looked as though he would not be there.  While getting settled,  Gulnaz instructed us to move all the props out of the way because Guruji was coming.  I thought to myself, AHHHHH!!!!  I cannot possibly be in his sight. I will most likely be the cause of the yelling, the disappointment.  He gets set-up in his backbend and we lay out our mats again.  It seems I have made it almost to the front row over by the rope wall. How did this happen? Why am I sitting this close? Have I gone mad?

Gulnaz leads the chant. I love the way she chants to Lord Patanjali.  The little inflections in her voice are so beautiful.  She chants with love and devotion.  We start off with Adho Mukha Virasana and listen to the murmurings behind us of Guruji and Raya.  Guruji often will do this, tell another teacher what he wants him to teach. Apparantly it was to teach our minds to be ahead of our bodies. He begins with leading us through jumpings and speaking about staying ahead in the future with our minds so we can be in the present with our bodies.  Wow! Have they read my mind today?  We go through many of these, leading with the mind first.  We do some jumping back and forth for standing poses and he says "lift your chest!  When you are angry, what happens to your chest?" We all say,"It lifts!" Very proud we are that we got one right.  He then says, "Ok then, make your chest like you are angry, but don't get angry!"  When we come to Tadasana for a rest, he says, "Contain yourself!" This was the beginning of container class.  The container you might ask?  Yes, the container of your upper body region,  the ribs, the collar bones, the thoracic. If you can maintain the contents of your container while doing jumpings, poses like Prasarita Padottanasana, Parsvottanasana, Parvritta Trickonasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, and Sirsasana (two times, for a long time) then you have mastered your containter. We did not master this.  I heard Guruji say, "They are not learning anything!" When I really though about it, he was very right. We are so stuck in the psyicality of the poses we completely ignore the mind. We did everything a lot today.  It got hot in the room, my shirt was soaked, but I did not even notice until we were done.  We did things 4, 5, 6 times, we swung our bodies into Prasarita Padottanasana in a way today that I thought this cannot be ok.  Of course it was ok.  This man is a master,  a master who we are so fortunate to hear in action at this time.

We had 3 teachers today Raya, Abi, and Guruji.  The three of them are in my opinion, something special.  I never got to experience an asana class like some people have described in the lastest Yoga Samachar, but I feel as though I am getting a taste of what Guruji must have been like in the early days of the institute. Full of life, vigor, and humor.  After Sirsasana,  we do Marichyasana III.  She tells us afterwards we are too slow in learning this so we must move on to Sarvangasana.  We set-up the mats which 3 people share.  Once we get up, with a few instructions about the back ribs, have we forgotten completely about our container?  We are in the pose for a bit and we hear Guruji saying something to Abi about the ghosts in the buttocks. Ghosts?  This is a new one.  She then goes on to describe how we need to lift the buttocks, this is the only way we will get our back thigh skin to move to our feet and our front shin skin to go down.  Abi asks us,"Has anyone ever seen the Exorcist movies?  Have an exorcism to get the ghosts out of your buttocks!"  I heard Dana laugh, if you know her you know her laugh and it is not quiet.  I hear everyone else laughing and I think to myself, "Oh lord, did there is no way they have read my blog....I hope I don't get kicked out."  She refers to the ghosts and the exorcisms a few more times and it is funny everytime:-)

I am not sure if I got the ghosts out of my buttocks.  I am hoping they are at least a little more intelligent.  These teachings from Guruji are so transformational.  I never knew my mind could be more present and did not know that my body could do what it did today.  This trip has been transformational, not just the teachings, the yoga, the philosophy.  I am inspired, beginning to see the world in a whole new light.

If by some chance any of the Iyengar Family reads this blog or anything else I have put out there about Iyengar Yoga, I hope they can get through the comedy and actually see what love and gratitude I have for them.  The way they have dedicated their lives for the teaching of Yoga is truly inspirational.  They have touched people all across the globe and I am one of them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blackboard vs. Backboard

This morning was Prashants class from 7-9 am.  He starts us off again in Upavistha Konasana with a twist, then Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana with the chair for I think about 13 minutes.  Then off to Sirsasana in the ropes for it felt like for me 10 minutes or more.  More Dwi Pada in the chair and to backarches in the middle of the room. No dropping to floor, just straight up arching backwards for again what felt like ages.  More backbends on the floor, Ustrasana, Urdvha Mukha Svanasana, Bujangasana,  Dhanurasana.  To the ropes next for a chest opener standing then knees to bolster.  To floor one last time for Urdvha Dhanurasana a few times and to finish Supta Padangusthasana I and Chair Sarvangasana.  He keeps saying things like Blackboard or Backboard?  Backey or Backology?

This is the way he does things. We set off in to groups and rotate around until everyone has had a chance to experience the pose with the points he is making.  This month he is stressing the importance of the breath and the effect it has on the body, more especially the thoracic.  At the beginning it was easy to follow is instructions, but my body did not want to cooperate. At this point in the month I am getting it.  Not as much squirming while he is talking, my body seems to get it at times now.

Today he was talking about learning the ABC's and the simplicity of a chalkboard and its components. How we have to start somewhere even if it is in just the physical asana.  But at this point if we are coming to his advanced class we should be past that. We should be moving inward.  Acknowledging how our minds effect the asana, not the other way around. He went on at the end of class to talk about yoga in the modern world.  About how we are more concerned with the yoga outfit than the yoga itself.  He is right, I am in that crowd of people.  Spending an obscene amount of money on a pair of yoga pants because I like the way they look.  I was so afraid to wear these bloomers because of the veins and cellulite on my legs,  I am way past that now people. You get over it quick here in India.  You are forced in to the reality of every situation and to see how petty and vain we can really be.

We only have a week left here in India,  my eyes are wide open now to the ways of India.  I hope when I get back I will be able to relax more about my to do lists, not care so much about little things in my body I dislike, and learn to accept life more gracefully the way Indian people do.

A formal apology to my husband about his driving...

Yesterday Dana and I went to the Karla Caves that are about an hour from Pune.  We were asked about a week ago if we wanted to share a car with some other women who are also studying this month at the institute. We arrived at the meeting place at 6:30am Sunday morning.  This is very early for Indian standards. The 7 of us and our driver pile into an SUV and we are on our way.  Our plan from early on was to stop for breakfast and drive up to a few lookouts over the countryside before we went to the caves.  Our driver was pumping the global dance music from the start, some Indian, lots of American rap and pop. It was a party from the time the car started moving.

We get to the breakfast stop at about 8, this was after stopping to ask at least 4 times to see if anything was open at that time. I think we turned around in the middle of the street a few times, we came very close to hitting a cow. The driver just honked and honked and the cow just walked slowly our of our way. The little town we to was full of cows, people, trash, and smells.  We order a round of chai and breakfast. When the food begins arriving I see my favorite Pooha come to the table. I did not order it and was a little sad about it but Dana and I had brought some eggs and fruit to be safe.  You never go anywhere in India without snacks, water, and some sort of sanitizer be it wipe kind of the liquid kind.  We get back on the road about an hour later and drive up a long and winding mountain road. At the beginning of the ascent one of the beautiful Itlaians yells out, "La cascada! La cascada!"  It was one of those comments that will stick with me forever, the way she said it, and  her excitement while saying it.  While we are steadily moving up the hill passing other cars, honking at each other and praying we do not hit anything or a pothole, it is getting foggy and very rainy.  At this stopping point the rain was blowing sideways!  We ended up stopping for a bit since the rain was so bad and someone else in the car felt a little car sick. While sitting in the car, a small boy came up through the dense fog and asked if we wanted a chai.  I could not figure out where he was coming from, but when he ran away when we said no we saw a small shelter in the fog about a 100 yards away.

We get back on the road, decide the fog and rain are too much to fight with and drive to the Karla cave. Once we finally get there we walk up a hill and along the way are people selling sweets, roasted corn, and offerings for the temple at the top.  We pay for our tickets and go to the cave.  The Karla caves date back to 160 B.C.! We go inside and cannot believe the size of the carvings inside.  Ganesh and many other Hindu Gods are depicted here. Here is a link to read more:

We get back on the road and decide to go back to Pune to get a bite for lunch.  I am amazed once again at the agility of these Indian drivers. I am not as scared as I was in the beginning, I may actually be getting used to the flow of traffic here. We are barreling down the road swerving to miss people, dogs, other cars, rickshaws.  Once we arrive back in Pune we have another chai, a bite to eat and go to the German bakery near the Osho ashram.  The bakery was bombed a few years back so we have to count how many were in our party and go through a metal detector.  This bakery is full of pastries that are mostly chocolate.  Indians love their chocolate!

After yesterday I realized that I will not be so scared anymore of being a passenger.  I want to formally apologize to my husband about all the crap I give him in the car. He could be a great taxi or rickshaw driver here in India if his current job doesn't work out:-)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exorcism in Pune

This morning Dana and I did our usual routine, got up, had coffee, Face Time with our families back home, went for a walk, bought fruit, got ready and went to class.  We got a great spot today, moving closer to the platform by one row. 

Typically Saturday is taught by Geeta, but you just really never know so best to be prepared and open for anything.  Today we were greeted to Raya.  He is a very experienced yoga practitioner and teacher at the Institute, who is young, handsome, and well spoken. He began class as usual with the invocation.  Raya then made the announcement that today he would just be calling out the names with very little instruction, a more reflective practice to basically show them you have been listening to what Geeta has been saying in these women's classes.  This sequence is one of those that really makes you wonder if you will make it through class alive after the 1st 30 minutes, but of course you will because they would never ask you do something they knew you could not accomplish.  We were sweating, not just a little sweat, I mean I had sweat dripping down my face during Sirsasana and that was in the first 20 minutes.  After he called out the Sanskrit name to the pose he would look at his watch and hold us there from 30-1minute for standing poses and longer for the inversions. Dana and I think it must have been 7-10 minutes for Sirsasana and at least 10 or longer for Sarvangasana.  Stephanie Quirk was walking around looking at people making small adjustments, two other teachers were on the platform doing the poses with us. It really felt like community during these two hours.  Everyone working hard, listening, breathing together, doing the yoga.  Very little talking except from Raya or Stephanie.  

I will just list the sequence as best as I can below. It is very long and was difficult to get straight, but I think Dana and I got most of it. The list may not seem cohesive at 1st glance, but in the moment working the points Geetaji has been making it all comes together. I am recording some of the sequences here, not to copy and think I am anywhere near this teaching level.  Just to merely put them down and try to remember how truly happy and content I felt during and after. I am and will always be in awe of this amazing teaching here in India.

Padangustasana-concave back
Vira I x 2
Paschima Namaskarasana
Sirsasana-10 min
AMSvanasana to Urdvha Mukha Svanasana x 3
Dhanurasana x 2
Urdvha Mukha Svanasana
Ustrasana x 2
Urdvha Dhanurasana x 2
Dwi Pada Vipariti Dandasana x 2
Urdvha Dhanurasana
Chakrasana (I believe this is the spelling, lift head off the floor from Dwi Pada)
Eka Pada Vipariti Dandasana-keep lifted leg bent and in towards chest x 2
Vira I
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
Uttanasana with legs as wide as mat-turning to right leg holding on with both hands repeat on the left
Janusirsasana x 2
Maricyasana x 2
Triang Mukaiekapada Paschimottanasana x 2
Virasana with twist
Baddhakonasana with twist
Upavistha Konasana with twist
Upavistha Konasana-Parsva

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pranayama class #3

Our third pranayama class was taught tonight by Rajalaxmi.  Rajalaxmi is a regular asisstant to Geeta, she is also one of the teachers who often travels with the Iyengar family.   Now she is one of my favorite Pranayama teachers.  Not because she taught difficult digital pranayama,  not because she was poetic, not because she was funny.  She was clear,  kind, calm, her instructions were effective.

It is so interesting the effect a teacher can have on a student. If a teacher is calm during Pranayama some students may find this boring, they may fall asleep.  Some students may enjoy a more upbeat voice, one that commands they sit up straight! I guess it really depends where you are at that moment in time. Tonight, this is what I needed. Nurturing.

Pranayama can do magical things when done properly.  When done incorrectly, one can have adverse reactions.  I am no stranger to latter. When I was in High School I was diagnosed with asthma.  I was often sick as a result of allergies and the inability to breath fully. I had always wanted to be a runner, a hiker, some sort of athlete, but just the thought of running made me tired.  Upon starting yoga, moving to a dryer climate and a better diet, the asthma symptoms did improve.  A few years ago the symptoms returned, and once again I feel as though I am at a disadvantage when practicing Pranayama.

Tonight however was a different story.  Rajalaxmi began class with instructing us how to sit. For at least 10 minutes we sat with cupped fingertips, rolling our upper shoulder bones back, keeping length in the lumber. She remained calm, I remained calm.  We did a few rounds of supine Pranayama and seated Pranayama. We then ended with the white blanket folded in a way I had not seen stuffed right under the top of the thoracic spine.  For one of the first times in a few days, my breathing began to calm, my chest felt a little loose!  It was a very simple practice of Ujjai 1,2 and Viloma 1,2, but they felt so clear and calm for the first time in a very long time. No anxiety, no breathlessness, no sweaty palms.

There is a sutra I thought of after Pranayama tonight.  Sutra II.4. Not because of it's actual meaning, but because in Light on the Yoga Sutras there is a paragraph following II.4 that I think is so beautiful.  It is how I feel when Pranayama goes well, I am at peace, I feel very clear,  and I can see myself for who I am becoming through the practice of Yoga.  It goes like this:

..."In daily life, however, we are very much aware of the upper surface of the lens, facing outwards to the world and linked to it by the senses and mind.  This surface serves both as a sense, and as a content of consciousness,  along with ego and intelligence. Worked upon by the desires and fears of turbulent wordly life, it becomes cloudy, opaque, even dirty and scarred, and prevents the soul's light from shining through it. Lacking inner illumination, it seeks all the more avidly the artificial lights of conditioned existence.  The whole technique of yoga, its practice and restraint, is aimed at dissociating consciousness from its identification with the phenomenal world, at restraining the senses by which it is ensnared, and at cleansing and purifying the lens of citta, until it transmits wholly and only the light of the soul." -Light on the Yoga Sutras by B.K.S. Iyengar 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Independence Day to India!

Today is Independence Day.  Here is a link to some photos from Delhi:
The institute is closed today.  We are resting,  reading, writing, and washing clothes.  Life feels very simple right now.

I will savor these moments.........

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

To Mumbai for Meditation

Yesterday we were just lucky enough to get a phone call from a local friend and Iyengar Teacher.  She said that she was going to Mumbai and would like us to go to meet her meditation teacher.  When our friend was in Denver last year, Dana got to attend one of her meditation classes.  I also was lucky enough to attend a blessing she did for the Yoga Group.  She is a gifted teacher and now good friend.

This is just a quick timeline of events to follow-up how things work here.

12:30-planned pick up time to go to bus station
12:45-phone call that says, plans have changed we are getting a taxi, go wait until the phone call and then come down
1:45-phone call that says go walk to the Ambiance hotel, then keep going straight, straight, till you see the Shiva temple
2pm-walk with the 3 women from Spain and our friend to the Petrol station to wait for other local to come in the big taxi that will take us to Mumbai
2:30-phone call from friend that says she has gotten into an argument with an unpleasant taxi driver and now we need to find a new ride
2:45-get two rickshaws to take us to where the friend is, then another two rickshaws to take us to the  taxi station
3-we get two taxis to take us to Mumbai
3-5:40-ride to Mumbai with very fast driver in the rain,  I held on, Dana closed her eyes for a bit, we also stop for coffee at an Indian type Starbucks, very good latte
6:15-we greet the meditation teacher, who is a very lovely woman, we all we very lucky again to meet her, she gave us each a blessing, I think we all just felt better being near her
7:45-take photos of all the girls, we all get into a van,  all 8 of us at this point, we grew by one person, so 9 total with the driver
8-we eat croissants, loudly, as we are all feeling giddy from the meditation and the close quarters of the van, lots of girl giggling
8:30-go to another taxi stand, get in a little bigger van, on the road to Pune
10-we stop at McDonalds to go to the bathroom, it is still just a gross smelling place, but they did have toilet paper
midnight-we arrive home

It is a great day, with lots of surprises.  I love the way it works here.  Just go with the flow and you will be alright!


India is a country full of Spontaneous people.  The last few days here has been quite the ride. From Spontaneous shopping  and dinner, a traditional Indian dance recital performed by a young polish woman, a trip to Mumbai,  puppy sitting,  to Nana just picking us for a quick business, just chai!

I am beginning to let my guard down.  I am a creature of habit.  I often choose to stay no to things.  Dinner on the weeknight,  quick coffee to chat,  lunch with a friend,  a mid-day yoga practice.  This is beginning to change. The more flexible my mind becomes from the yoga practice, from the interactions with these fun happy people, the more I seem to say yes to things.

Since my last entry, we have had pranayama with Geeta and a women's class.  Class with Prashant.  Many days we start off with a walk around the Agricultural College,  after class we typically buy fruit and grab a coconut for the water.  This routine is much different to the one I stick to at home.  I am usually by myself with the dogs for the first 3 hours. Practice, running the dogs, preparing my lunch.  Here it is really about the yoga and culture.

I even feel that the teaching is quite spontaneous as well.  Prashant will often take us out of a pose to have us come and listen.  Mostly great metaphors of yoga and life,  the spices in chai and the experience of coffee at Vaishale restaurant.  Geeta will sometimes spontaneously say we are all fools and she is a fool to try to teach us, followed by laughter.  If something is not going right in class she will change the flow a little bit. Make us do something over and over until we get it, until we really hear what she is saying. How to turn the abdomen, how to connect with our strength.

While is practice yesterday after Prashants class, she came in to for practice time herself.  When she came in you could really feel the energy shift.  Some were excited, some were nervous, some stared, some ever upped there practice.  I just did my inversions, did savasana and left.  I was not really sure what the protocol was. I just use my instinct and do it.  Like Dana says when I am getting dressed,  you just wear what you want, no one will notice!  I try the same approach in the practice room,  do not compare,  push yourself a little and just be sensitive to your own body and nervous system.  Be Spontaneous and listen.  To quote Prashant, "Yoga is the study of embodiment."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monsoon season is over

Today is the 7th day we have been in Pune.  The first 4 days is rained a lot, each day after less and less. The 5th day we were at our usual park we walk around.  We walked, Dana took a photo of a group of young girls who wanted us in the photo, we also noticed something different about the park that day.  The park benches are covered in what looks like a cross between plaster and cement. They have begun to scrape the dried mixture away to reveal a beautiful dark wood, which is then covered in a brick color that is so lovely against all the greenery.  They are painting, cleaning, moving dirt, rocks and trash around to different parts of the park.  No doubt in an effort to get the park ready for Independence Day next week.  I think that the park is a good metaphor for what India can do to your soul.  Scrape away the dullness, bring out the truth of it all.

Speaking of dullness,  Geeta's classes are anything but that.  She speaks straight to your heart, your mind, your body.  She commands attention. Not just because she can scream or yell.  She has the experience of the asanas in her own body even though she is no longer able to do the more difficult ones.  She says on the 2nd Sirsasana of the class (after the 1st 10 minute head balance and standing poses) , "Don't come down! If you come down, go back up!  Be firm, be resilient, be strong!" I was not sure if it was myself I did not want to let down or her.  So I kept going back up.  Doing the variations in anyway I can.

I will leave you with a few last things:
-1st blackout last night, lasted 10 minutes
-heard a car backing up yesterday to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,  not beeps
-5 chai's to date
-Handism, Handology,  Handosophy,  Armology, Armosophy, Armisms

Women's Class with  Geeta  (from what I can remember)-Yes this was done in 2 hours, 10 minutes
Janusirsasana x 2
TMP-use straight leg hand to balance hips
Marichyasana 1 x 2
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana x 2
Sirsasana 5 minutes, then variations
Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, Vira II, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana,  Parsvottanasana,  Prasarita Padottanasana
(Repeat above and add Parivrtta Trikonasana before Paivrtta Ardha Chandrasana)
Sirsasana 3 minutes, then variations
Chatush x 3 hold ankles, 3rd time bring hands to back for Setubhanda, then Eka Pada Setubhanda
Come down
Swing legs over to Halasana, Sarvangasana, Eka Pada, Supta Konasana, Ardha Halasana, Karnipidasana, Parsva Karnipidasana
Malasana-full pose

This is Nana, very famous rickshaw driver these days.  He always takes us to the very best places:-)

Lakshmi Road Flower vendor

Mandai Market

Mandai Market,  very fresh Cilantro!

Mandai Market

Vivikenanda Temple-So quiet. Nana took us there for the 4pm meditation.

Our Faces

Parvati Hill-You can see all of Pune from up here.  I liked this view better:-)

The unveiling has begun!

This is a sign in the little park by us.  It has many different paths complete with traffic looking signals.  I am still not sure about this sign,  this is one of three. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

One more carrot to round things out

This is how you buy veggies.  You go up to the cart,  there are others there and they are determined you will not cut in line even though they just cut you off in line.  I think Dana and I are getting the hang of this now.  You grab a bowl put some stuff in it and hand it to the weigher guy.  He then determines what the weight is,  adds another carrot, potato or whatever else he needs it to get to so it is even in rupees.  We just nod and say ok since it is still only $1.19 for an entire bag of veggies.  We can always use another carrot.

We have been here 4 days now.  It is getting easier to not be so startled by the things you see, smell,  and hear.  We woke up this morning at the advice of our host and went to the agricultural college to walk and enjoy a bit of nature.  It was funny because we have been hesitant to walk around and explore. Everyday we do branch out a little further,  but upon her confidence of our ability to cross a street (which if you have never crossed the street in India, just make sure you find a small lady who looks confident to cross with a couple times and you get the hang of it.....) we go a little bit further out.  It is lovely place complete with a Men's Parlour, big jungle trees, the Consulate of Sugar, and old buildings that look as though they have been there a very long time.  Upon coming out of the College, you see the Pune Central, the local mall.  From what our host told us,  it used to be very quaint on this street.  With the addition of the mall, more traffic, more people, more everything.

So you are wondering, "What about the Yoga!?".  Well,  Friday was our first Pranayama class with Abhijata, Geetas granddaughter.  It was not as crowded as I thought it would be, but people do get very attached to there spot and there props.  Abhijata has the most soothing voice,  someone I know may have dosed off a bit due to the jet lag and lovely Indian accent.  She is also firm in her teaching. While in Savasana preparing for Pranayama, she said, "Express your chest!" How does that make sense?  It just does when you are here.   It amazes that even here people do not here the teacher, assuming she could not possibly be speaking to them.  Yesterday was our first morning asana class. Of course Dana I get there early so we can find a spot, sit and calm our nerves a bit.  While sitting there in walks B.K.S. Iyengar,  he is sparkling even at 94, it makes me remember how lucky I am to have the ability to come here. (Those eyebrows,  I just think everyone should stop trimming, waxing, threading or whatever you do to your brows and get more natural, it really does look better people.)  Raya (not sure of the spelling) does the announcements:  Please do not bow as Guruji is walking,  please wash your legs up to the knees before coming in to the hall,  please do not set up your props and walk away from them,  make sure to help put props up and do not leave it for them to fix later.  He does the invocation, when we open our eyes, there she is,  Geeta.  The person for whom I have been so afraid of, when I have not even met her.  She was very firm,  very funny, and at times very frustrated with people who do not understand English or Hindi.  We were in a very long Prasarita Padottanasana and she says,  "Take your eyes to the floor,  now, take your face to the floor, kiss the floor!  You know you want to!" Then she laughs and laughs.  For our first Geeta class is was a great experience.  The sequencing of twists so brilliant.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pune, India

We made it to India.  
What trip it is here. It is loud, I mean really loud. Cars, horns, rain, and the loudest of all birds! Amongst the dogs, people, trash, there is something strangely beautiful here. Maybe it is the amazing coffee Dana brought? Maybe I am delirious from lack if sleep? Maybe it is how people are completely confident when taking on crossing the street! Oh! I know, it was the warm welcome from our hosts, the ability to walk to blocks to get all you need and it was only $3 US. 
Someone please remind me in a month on how to be a better host, to have someone over for tea just to get to know them. 
Today we register for our classes. I am excited to get into my practice. To feel grounded again. To remind myself of why I came to India.