3rd India Blog Post
Abhijata and Raya are offering regular talks to the foreigners. Today at 4pm we met for an hour and 45 minutes. Abhijata asked us what we would like to talk about. The first topic that was mentioned was worry about doing poses or methods that were not “Iyengar”. Raya said that if what was being taught fit into a logical sequence, was taught to make a point or try out an action, and that it was understood what the classic pose was, then the methodology was probably ok. Examples were given. Sirsasana with the heels together and the toes out was taught to teach the firmness of the hip socket. But this variation is not classic Sirsasana. We are to understand the classic pose.
We also discussed how in the west students take from many teachers. They wanted to know why that was. Answers were varied.
A story was shared by Raya about Guruji. He told Raya that if you are going to teach a 60 minute class you should practice for 3 hours. If you are going to have your students do 10 handstands you should do 30. You should know how your class is going to affect the students.
Abhitjata told a funny story about how Geeta decided to try a pedicure. A student came to the house and gave Geeta the pedicure. Guruji came home and asked what was happening. Geeta told him, and Guruji asked for a pedicure as well. The next day Guruji walked into the practice hall and saw the student who had given him the pedicure. He asked her – what have you done to my feet? Apparently he could tell that she had removed more callus on one side of his foot compared to the other side!
January 11, 2017
Once again Sunita asked us to sit with our eyes open. Her class was precisely taught with wonderful sequencing and linking. We worked on several Sirsasana variations at the wall. Amazingly, we all got two turns at the wall to practice the variations. Sunita really wanted us to have the chance for the wall be our teacher.
About halfway through class, Geeta entered the room and starting watching the class. Knowing she was there made my eyes tear up with a sudden love for her. She watched and corrected a few students near her. When they tried to give her the microphone she said no, that she would just start shouting! She continued to watch until class was over. As we were getting up, Raya told us we could all face Geeta and say Namaskar to her. It was a solemn moment. Geeta stayed at the horse, with her back to the grill and chest open. On my way out I stopped and said Namaskar again. She looked at me in the eye and gave me a small nod.
Sunita’s 9:30am class
Adho Mukha Virasana
Tadasana: don’t exhibit your thighs or buttocks.
Utthita Trikonasana to Utthita Parsvakonasana
Parsvottanasana to Virabhadrasana III
Parsvottanasana to Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
Virasana to watch Sirsasana Demo: We were going to do variations at the wall. Sunita said to note the leg positions of the standing poses we had just practiced prepared us for the leg variations. Very clever!
We watched Eka Pada and Parsvaika Pada Sirsasana as demonstrated by Raya: Foot to chair. Use the chair and wall to understand what you are doing.
While watching Sirsasana we did Parsva Dandasana, Parsva Upavista Konasana, Parsva Baddha Konasana
Ardha Halasana: feet on the wall, then to Sarvangasana
Eka Pada Sarvangasana: Bring foot to the wall.
Uttanasana as Savasana: close the eyes to come up, and don’t come through concave back.
I had invited Carmella from NY over to lunch after class. Carmella was wonderful company and we after lunch we decided to walk over to Dimpex. Dimpex sells batik shirts, shorts, wall hangings, etc. Fun stuff and nice people! We finished our lunch with Carmella with by walking to the ice cream store for mango ice cream.
Gulnaaz had invited me to come assist in her therapy class. I was excited to do this! I helped to hold people’s legs, showed some standing poses, set up a few poses and then pushed hard on someone’s arms. I learned a lot in that hour.
We rode back to the Institute with Nikki from New York. She was also helping Gulnaaz. We had a great talk and discovered that both of us were deeply inspired by Mary Dunn.
Raya’s class was wonderful. He asked us about our obsession with sitting on blankets. For the invocation we sat on a narrow flat block with our buttock bones at the front edge. Raya said the block would bring clarity. He was absolutely right. We also put our hand in pachima Namaskar for the invocation. – Very interesting! The class was a combination of shoulder actions needed for twisting poses and the twisting poses themselves.
Raya’s 6pm Class
Invocation: sit on narrow block, hands in Pachima Namaskar
Dandasana: sit on narrow block
Parsva Dandasana: sit on narrow block, feet apart
Parsva Dandasana: sit on rolled “fat” narrow blanket
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Tadasana with Pachima Namaskar
Tadasana with Pachima Namaskar partner gives you a block the narrow way. Then partner does Namaskarasana with block in front of the chest.
Tadasana with Pachima Namaskar flat block to back, hands on outside of block (block between back and hands).
Bharadvajasana I: right buttock bone on the block. 3x to right without changing to the left
- Turn with right hand to blanket
- Turn with right hand catching the left heel
- Turn with right hand reaching around the right waist
Raya gave a long talk about shoulder and arm actions. He told us to look at Guruji photos of Pasasana, Bharadvajasana I for example. Look at the length in his forearm and wrist. Look at the position of his hand and thumbs. Go for that. You don’t always need to clasp.
We did a lot of work relaxing the shoulder, reaching from shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist, wrist to fingers, keep the hand away form the back and take the right hand behind the back. We played with the hand gripping the upper arm strongly, and then with the hand and fingers soft and just reach.
Bharadvajasana II: Right buttock bone on the block. Try first with hand just reaching, not holding the foot, then hold the foot.
Marichyasana III, sit on rolled blanket. Make your left arm straight and your hands like oars. Steer your boat and balance the effort of the arms or your boat will go in circles.
Paschimottanasana: sit on narrow brick.
Setu Bandha on the brick. Extend your arms and turn your palms up. See that you don’t over rotate the arms, the biceps should face the ceiling and triceps face the floor. Maintain that arm position and turn the palms down. Don’t pinch the shoulder blades.
We go up early to go to a 8am class with Gulnaaz Dashti at her center on Baner Road. Nikki, Becky and Nina from the US were also there. It was a beginner class and no props were used! Not even a blanket to sit on at the beginning of class. It was an active class filled with movement. “No excuses” were allowed.
We were offered a ride back to the institute from Ketki, a local student. I am always amazed at how friendly the culture is here.
After we got home we practiced the sequence from Raya’s class. Then I rounded out my day by observing and helping in the medical class, taking a pranayama class and back at home, we watched a video of Geeta.
Beginner class with Gulnaaz
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Tadasana with outer feet as wide as the mat
This was to learn what the outer body was, and how to make the feet parallel to each other
Feet wide, UH to Uttanasana, five times, hold on the last one
Same thing, feet together
Parsvottanasana to UH in Parsvottanasana up and down 5 times, hold the last time x2
Dandasana legs as wide as the hips
UH Dandasana (legs wide) to Paschimottanasana concave back, x5, quick, hold all 10 toes on the last one.
Same as above but legs together.
Rolling, Paschimottanasana to Halasana x10, then x20
Stand up, UH to Sarvangasana x10, don’t use arms to get up and down.
Chatush Padasana x4, hold the ankles!
Supta Baddha Konasana hold ankles, no support
January 14, 2016
Happy Makar Sankranti!
This morning’s class was with Sunita and we practiced inversions and backwards extensions. The class was invigorating and challenging. Sunita made us also think hard – questioning us after each asana “how is it?”. Sometimes the class struggled to answer and sometimes the answers flowed. I got the nerve up to offer my opinion once! After we had done some full arm balance, Pincha Mayurasana and Sirsasana, we were vibrant and awake. Sunita told us this is how we should come to class, in that state, rather than in a sluggish state. She also talked about how the throat gets hard in inversions and backwards extensions and how we should not let that happen. “find Savasana state in every asana”.
After class I was invited to lunch with Janet MacLeod’s friend Sunil and his family. Sunil is a long-time student at the Institute. Today happened to be Makar Sankrant,i a holiday celebrating the beginning of longer daylight time. I was picked up by Sunil and whisked away to his home (after stopping at a temple). I was served delicious food – a bean dish, rice and dal, and chapatti’s with a tasty syrup made from jaggery. I was told that this particular jaggery dish was only made once a year, on this holiday. Part of this holiday’s tradition is that women give each other presents. I was given a beautiful small purse. The hospitality and generosity was extremely touching. To top it all off, their daughter gave me a ride home on a scooter. It was exhilarating and not really scary to weave in and out of other scooters, cars and rickshaws.
Sunita’s 9:30am Class
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (full arm balance) x4
dominant leg, non-dominant leg, both legs (2 attempts)
Ardha Adho Mukha Vrksasana (feet to wall in pike position) x3
Third time lift one leg straight up, like an upside down Virabhadrasana III. Then change.
Urdhva Mukha Savasana x4-5 first times classic, then 2 attempts with hands on blocks
armpit chest forward must come first!
Urdhva Dhanurasana x3
No props, in center of the room
Urdhva Dhanurasana x3 or 4
hands on blocks at wall
Urdhva Dhanurasana x3
feet on flat blocks at wall
Urdhva Dhanurasana off stage x2
hands on floor, feet on stage
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana off stage
kick over to come out
Halasana, Karnapidasana on bolster
Uttanasana for Savasana