By Pune I mean the Ramamani Memorial Iyengar Yoga Institute (RIMYI). For Iyengar practitioners ‘Pune’ is synonymous with ‘RIMYI’. After studying for five years under my primary teacher here in Bangalore, I started going to Pune last year. I’ve written about my time in Pune in previous blogs. This blog is about the little known and surprising aspects of the RIMYI experience.
- RIMYI is the most famous institute for Iyengar yoga on the planet. It is the epicentre of all Iyengar yoga related activities in the world. There is a wait list to attend classes at the institute, and you may have to wait for up to a year or more to get a spot. To even apply for a spot you need to be studying Iyengar yoga for at least 5 years under a certified teacher. We reserve our seats and accommodation many months in advance. Sometimes years in advance.
- Everyone cries. Yes, RIMYI has a lot of grownups in tears. Teachers at the institute aren’t known to mince their words or to bother about the political correctness of their words. The experience can be intense and nerve wracking. What’s interesting is that despite quaking with fear, dread and nervousness on our mats, we still return year after year! I’ve broken down countless times. The experience can be very cathartic and just goes to show that the path of yoga takes your blood, sweat and tears.
- Teachers hit you. While we’re not being shoved into doors and walls, a sharp slap on the quads or the back of the knees to take our awareness to our ‘sleeping’ body parts is routine. I’ve had teachers slap my quads, the back of my knees, the sides of my thighs…even had my toes flicked painfully because, ironically, they weren’t relaxed enough. We joke that ‘BKS’ Iyengar stands for ‘Beat Kick Slap’ Iyengar!
So you see, studying at the best yoga school in the world is not a blissful-gentle-stretching-meditating-all-day experience. It’s actually a tremendous achievement to make it through and back again the next year!