Nina’s India Blog – 1st Post
Hi Everyone, I will periodically post blogs about my India trip here.
Off to India!
Commercial airlines flights are never my favorite endeavors, so the thought of taking three flights over 30 hours to get to Pune made for a stressful December 29th. I apologized to both my son and my husband for that day, telling them to ignore anything I said.
Then December 30th dawned – a beautiful, sunny day in White Salmon. Mt. Hood was crystalline and sharp as we headed to the airport and I found that my nerves had settled. It was off to India for my fourth trip!
The act of travelling always generates stories of people and meetings and I was grateful for several encounters I had along the way.
While waiting for my flight to Delhi in the Amsterdam airport a women asked me if she was at the right gate. After we concluded that she was in the right place, we struck up a fun conversion, one that left me feeling like we were already friends. She was excited for me that I was going to study yoga for a month, and I was interested to hear about her family’s planned rail trip through India. By the time the airport person came by to help her with a wheel chair (she was 75 and had lost a foot in an accident) I felt a connection with her. She gave me some ginger candy – to help settle things!
During the flight to Delhi, I wondered – when would it officially be 2017? I knew I would be in the air when the year changed, but wasn’t sure what time zone we were in.
The captain of the flight cleared all of that up by announcing that he would count us down to the new year! The flight attendants handed out champagne and the captain gleefully counted us down to 2017. All the passengers joined in and toasted each other with champagne (or water). There were a multitude of nationalities and religions and all on board happily smiled at each other. Maybe there is hope for the world.
Once I alit in Delhi, my luggage took an hour to come forth and I was increasingly worried I was going to miss my connecting flight to Pune. Once I had it, I went to the domestic flight entrance. The young man took one look at my itinerary and hustled me off –“ma’am, you must hurry” he said as he guided me though back routes, through baggage drop and first class security. Then we almost ran to the gate where my flight was already boarding. Without him I would not have made it. He asked for a gratuity and as I had no rupees yet, gave him $4 US. I hope he can use it.
As I settle into my apartment I find I am excited for classes to begin. I had been feeling a bit lost lately, in my practice and in my goals. Even before classes have begun for the month I feel refreshed and vitalized.
Happy New Year everyone!
January 2, 2017
It was difficult to get up to go to a 7:00am class. It was still dark and my jet lag was in full force – I had woken up at 2:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep until about 4:00am.
It had been over six years since I had taken a general class at the Institute. In that six years, Mr. Iyengar had passed and Geeta had stopped teaching. The entire atmosphere of the practice hall had transformed into something less intense, something just less.
Before describing classes with Prashant a disclaimer – none of what I am writing is a direct quote, I am paraphrasing. Prashant’s actual words were far more clever and precise, and I simply can’t remember exact quotes.
Class with Prashant was illuminating. He did not teach us how to do poses or actions of poses. He told us that we already knew that. Instead, we held poses for long periods while he developed several themes.
His first theme was that your breath was part of the team and that we want our breath to be a full participant of the team. He described how we should inhale more and more and exhale more and more and see how the breath can accentuate, improve, and inform us.
He then described the idea of making a delicious cake and not eating it. What was the point of making the cake if you are not going to eat it? Similarly, if you are just doing asanas to practice the biomechanics, you are not eating the cake of Yoga. You are missing the best part of Yoga by not going beyond the biomechanics. We should practice with awareness of body, mind, breath, senses.
Also, poses have usage, and we should use them. If we overdo a pose, then the pose is useless. How to do the pose for heart problem, for kidneys, for mental problems. Don’t be dogmatic! Don’t be rigid.
A good start to the month.
Our new cook is amazing! She cooked the most delicious cauliflower, potato and tomato veggie dish, plus chapattis.
It was wonderful.
There are more Americans here now. Four from LA, Steve and Thea from Iowa, Susan, Rose, Carmella and a fourth from NY, Janet Lilly, Lois Steinberg, Bill from Oregon. A very nice group!
Prashant’s class was transformative and illuminating. As usual, he had several themes that he explained many times in different ways. His themes today were looking at the idea of intensity through a prism and “normal breath”.
He asked us what happens when we look at light through a prism. Of course the answer is that a prism shows us that white light is actually made up of many colors of light. Similarly, we should look at intensity through a prism – there are many aspects of intensity. He focused mainly on two aspects, intensity of form and intensity of quality. He said there should be balance between these two intensities and too much emphasis on intensity of form was harmful.
He then taught and talked about the “normal breath”. What is normal breath? Why does the teacher say breath normally? What is meant by this? He then had us (in Trikonasana) experience the breath in various ways. He asked us to exhale 25% more and then to breath normally. And then repeat with even more exhalation. We were then to inhale 25% and then to breath normally. Then we invited to experiment with inhalation and exhalation. He asked us now what was our experience, what was our normal breath.
To end class, instead of lying in Savasana were to experience Savasana while sitting in Swastikasana (simple cross legs pose). We were to do Savasana for, by and of Swatiskasana. A great experience.