Taken on the way to Panchgani. Nature has a way of giving you perspective.
It’s my first ‘day at work’ after my annual Pune visit. A student asked me this morning about whether I gained new insights. During my first few years of yoga teaching and practice, I could easily quantify what I had learned. Stuff like “headstand”, “an arm balance” and “did some intense core work”. Now it’s more difficult to describe. Maybe because now my focus is not so much on the number of asanas in my kitty. Now I like to work with what I have and refine it further. I like to simmer in known asanas so that I can teach them better – or rather, learn more from the asana.
So if I had to recap my month in Pune I like to think about sum total of all the experiences I had. I remember the rush to finish last minute assignments before leaving. I tried (unsuccessfully) to look for a substitute. My students had to contend with no teacher for a month. But it was an auspicious start.
I arrived in the days leading up to Ganesh Chaturthi, things were as bright and festive as always. Once I registered for my month I created a list of things to remember for all prospective students of RIMYI.
The teachers who have had the most impact on me are those who have encouraged me to trust my thought process. My Yoga Therapy professor did just that. I also wrote about how my practice changed during my Pune visit when a teacher told us to ignore the stretch.
In September I discovered an app called YourQuote and started dabbling in writing again. I also attended the Pune International Literature Festival as a writer for the first time. I checked for my book in the bookstalls, I signed books for many readers. Meet other writers was a dream. My friends came out to watch my session.
In September I hit an all-time high in my blog views. Titled “Why Am I Not Losing Weight?”, this blog resonated with many readers.
We’re getting ready for the festive season here as well. Diwali cleaning, de-cluttering, decorating…all this and much more in October.
A Pune visit is never complete without an Irani chai and wada pav. Go to FC Road for the best.
Finally getting the hang of this.
I headed to the institute at around 9 am this morning. In previous years I’ve always registered in the evenings so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I decided to wear my practice shorts just in case.
The person at the front desk smiled and nodded his head in recognition. He suggested I go practice first and come back later to get the registration forms.
Self-practice sessions at RIMYI can be intimidating. Alhtough you have people of all levels you tend to look only at those who are busy defying gravity. Today there were students going from adhomukha svanasana to urdhva dhanurasana and back again.
Watching students who have a better asana practice than you can be intimidating…or extremely inspiring. As a yoga student the one quality that has been of immense help to me has been that the only ‘I’ I take with me to a class is ‘I am a yoga student.’ Besides this I don’t think, ‘I can’t do back bends’ or ‘I have a mean urdhva kukkutasana’. I’m willing to explore what I already know. And willing to wrestle with prejudice, fear and doubt to discover new movements.
Besides the above two things, the other things I should mention for a month in Pune are:
- Don’t bring your yoga mat. You have every prop ever created available for use.
- Do bring comfortable walking shoes, preferrably ones that can withstand the rains. Pune is known for its sudden showers (it’s pouring as I write this). Don’t forget a trusted umbrella.
- Students generally bring skirts or loose pants to wear over their practice shorts rather than changing at the institute.
- Don’t forget your passport photos (along with the other documentation such as visa copies, passport copies etc). It had completely slipped my mind that I needed passport photos, but luckily had some extras in my wallet.
- You can pay your fees through cash or card.
- A lot of students like to have a coconut post class. I would recommend bringing your own re-usable straws rather than using the disposable plastic ones.
These are the few things that come to mind right now. In case you have specific queries, drop a comment.
Post practice I got my schedule. I have evening classes three times a week, and today happens to be an evening class. Fingers crossed for a good class and an awesome month.
I’ve practiced more in these 16 days than I ever have in my life. In Mysore practice used to be for an hour and a half. That was for 15 days. During my teachers’ training at SVYASA we used to have practice for up to 2 – 3 hours a day. Here we practice for up to 5 hours a day. Some students even opt to observe classes, so that’s more yoga during the day. It is intense, it is powerful, detailed, thorough and it’s amazing (I may already have mentioned that before.) In the past 2 weeks I’ve had time to really work on my asanas. I’ve also had a chance to see the practice in a different way. To kind of lift the asana lid and peer into the pot to find the importance and relevance of yoga in our lives. My own steadily improving practice and watching all kinds of people practice day in and day out. Doing the Trikonasana (and other asanas) over and over again drives home a few important lessons.
- Practice makes perfect. But nobody’s perfect. So perfection is a process and practice is the means to it. In the age of beautiful Instagram filters, it is difficult to believe that even the jaw dropping and awe inspiring pose has scope for improvement. There is scope of improvement in everything. Your projects are a work in progress. Your relationships are a work in progress….your life is a work in progress. You are a work in progress! So accept your mistakes. Internalize the lessons they teach you and don’t make them again. Remember, a mistake made over and over again is a habit.
- Spend a lot of time on your fundamentals. Here we have practitioners of all levels. However, what we practice day in and day out (yes for 5 hours daily) are the fundamentals. Trikonasana, Uttanasana, Downward dog etc. The other day the entire 2 hour class was about Uttanasana. That is all we did during the entire class. In fact, I’ve heard Abhijata say that your inversions will never be stable unless your standing poses are stable. Next time you find yourself fumbling in a pose, try and analyse why and what you can do to make the pose better. And next time you find yourself getting impatient or bored of the fundamentals, remember there’s always scope for improvement.
- Cultivate discipline.Be strict with yourself because when it comes to your body no one else will be. Make the time to move your body, however inconvenient it may be. Make the time to cultivate a hobby which requires you to move. Enjoy the process of movement and getting in touch with yourself. The tragedy of our times is that people will set reminders on their phones to take the medicines they have now become dependent on, but they won’t throw back the covers and go for a quick jog. Every little bit matters, but you need discipline. To start and to stay on track.
[Above: Healthy food choices always. Remember my 80/20 rule.]