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Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Registrations at RIMYI

September 3, 2019

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:

  1. Don’t bring your yoga mat. You have every prop ever created available for use.
  2. 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.
  3. Students generally bring skirts or loose pants to wear over their practice shorts rather than changing at the institute.
  4. 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.
  5. You can pay your fees through cash or card.
  6. 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.

Travel

A Day Trip to Kaivalyadham

September 2, 2017
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Swamy Kuvalyananda and his disciples.

A couple of days ago I decided to visit Kaivalyadham.  I first heard about the institute when I started to explore yoga courses.  This was many years ago and at the time Kaivalyadham seemed inaccessible.  I read that it was one of the oldest yoga schools in the world.  They’ve done a lot of research on Yoga, Ayurveda, Naturopathy etc. and have helped people world wide manage and treat ailments and illnesses.  I read up on Swamy Kuvalyananda.  References to him came up in ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ and a few commentaries in the first volume of the Yogamala Ashtadala.  It was fitting then that I got in touch with an old friend of mine from Bangalore who happened to be in her last week of internship there and invited me over to see her campus.  Things fell in place – I had a day off, was only about 60 km away from Lonavala and the weather was beautiful.

The last 34 aphorisms of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are grouped under a chapter called the Kaivalya Pada (pada = chapter/part).  Here Patanjali describes the many ways in which the practitioner can attain the state of Kaivalya.  Kaivalya is the state wherein the practitioner is emancipated from the cycles of birth and rebirth.  It is an indivisible absolute state of aloneness.  ‘Kaivalyadham’ then means the place of Kaivalya.

The drive from Pune to Kaivalyadham is amazing.  Mist covered the hills and trees and I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery.  Sadly I forgot to take pictures.  By the time we reached Kaivalyadham it was pouring cats and dogs and we had to wade through deep puddles to reach the main building.

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It’s always great to meet old friends.  We strolled around the campus as we talked.  Mamata took us to the gowshala where she spends a lot of time.  Kaivalyadham has a large Ayurvedic hospital and I even managed to get a quick consultation!  Like most residential yoga institutes, Kaivalyadham serves only sattvic food and we loved the lunch there.

They also teach cleansing kriyas as a part of their courses.  I was delighted to finally find clay neti pots in their gift shop and picked up a few for my friends as well.  Bangalore friends – now you know what I’m bringing back for you.

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Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Sunday the 18th – Koregaon Park

September 20, 2016

 

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Early morning walk around Koregaon Park.

 

Half the month is over, and, as Anuja pointed out in the car earlier today, half the year is almost over.  I bet a lot of people already made their New Year’s Eve plans. I’ve only been able to plan for the first week of December when I may be off for a new adventure.

 

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This should be better by December.

 

However, while I’m here I would like to experience a bit more of Pune.  So this past Saturday I decided to meet up with a friend of mine from my Infy days.  While in the UK, Bhavani and I were out frequently clubbing, pubbing, eating or just watching movies.  The last time I met up with her we went to Mallaka Spice (Bhavani & Me @Mallaka).  Last Saturday we went to a popular hangout here called The Bar Stock Exchange.  Nice place.  Good music, good crowd and nice drinks :).  We headed back to Bhavani’s house with plans of watching ‘Sinister’.  Once I realized I’d already seen the film, I promptly fell asleep.

The next morning was Sunday and I’m not one to miss out on a delicious breakfast.  Because of the early classes here, I’ve become very frugal with my breakfasts.  But I think I’m essentially a breakfast girl.  The other day (at Funky Kona in Baner) Anuja and I were discussing how much more fun and romantic breakfasts are over dinners.  Show me a breakfast and I’ll show you  girl who isn’t afraid to stuff her face.  So we drove around a bit to get to our breakfast place.  The Yogi Tree is right next to the Osho Ashram.  Bhavani had her usual parantha while I had a sandwich.  I have to confess, I don’t miss south Indian breakfast, but I do miss the coffee.  I’ve started to hallucinate the smell of fresh filter coffee!!!  I guess I know the first thing I’ll have in namma Bengaluru.

I pomelo_20160911194640_save.jpgwanted to indulge in a little bit of street shopping also while here.  I did go to Lakshmi road a day before the Ganapati festival.  It was crowded and I don’t think I’ll ever willingly go there again.  But I managed to pick up two pairs of beautiful Kolapuri chappals, which; for the record; happen to be my favorite kind of footwear.

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Many people told me that Koregaon park is known for its small quirky boutiques.  Bhavani and I decided to walk around.  I was looking for nice spots to take yoga photos.  Sadly, couldn’t find a single pretty background.  However, we did go to a few of the small boutiques and indulged in some retail therapy.  I got a sense of the vibe of the place which is youthful and vibrant.  There were interesting little food joints interspersed with the clothing and accessories boutiques.  Lots of places for dessert, but I’m keeping my chocolate addiction under control these days.

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Once I got home I said hi to Aston.  Aston makes a dog’s life look very chic.  He moves only if he has to.  He sprawls under the TV and sort of rolls around there every once in a while.  And he spontaneously has barking fits.  Playing fetch is his only form of exercise, but we know he’s in love with the tennis ball.  Anuja claims that he sleeps on his back and sometimes dreams about running after the ball.  So she says Aston’s legs move, as though he’s running after the ball.  Except he’s asleep.

I decided to strike a few poses while Aston was catching his breath.

Sunday evening Anuja and I decided to go back to Koregaon park to Dario’s.  I’d heard so much about the place and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.  They have delicious food.  We decided to taste the vegan cheesecake and had some bruschetta and coffee.  We thought we’d go for a round of shopping before we sat down for dinner.

When we emerged from Dario’s it was raining, but the weather wasn’t going to keep a couple of girls away from clothes.  We browsed through a few boutiques in Koregaon park.  I was looking for interesting quirky stuff while Anuja was checking out the merchandise.  We headed home early so that I could be up bright and early for my 7 am.

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The Standing Asanas – Day 17

September 17, 2016

It’s been raining non stop in Pune for the last 3 days.  The last time I experienced rain like this was in Wellington.  There the rain was accompanied by mist and the smell of Eucalyptus and Citronella.  Here I’m hurrying to RIMYI as quickly but as carefully as I can so as to make it to class on time while avoiding getting muck on my shoes and clothes.

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The 7 am class this morning was taken by Abhijata.  We started with the Uttanasana and the Adhomukha Svanasana.  We frequently start classes with these poses.   Then we were asked to get bricks and then started the series of standing poses.  We did all the standing poses without a break.  We did the entire sequence on both sides taking a break in between.  It took us only about 10 minutes.  Abhijata then told us that we can do the entire sequence of standing poses every day and in only 20 minutes.  In Iyengar yoga we start with the standing poses.  These poses are sort of like the entry point to other poses and also the entry point to start correcting alignment issues.  Structural and postural defects can be corrected only once the corrections from basic standing asanas are experienced by the body.

Another reason we begin with standing asanas is because while doing the asanas you focus on nothing but the asana.  It’s difficult to think about how much you hate your boss when your thighs are screaming in Virbhadrasana 1.  So for 20 minutes (while you are performing the sequence of standing poses), you get a mental break from whatever thoughts disturb you for the rest of the day.  This state of focus and concentration is what meditation tries to get you to.  In Iyengar yoga we use the asanas as a means to attain the meditative state.

When you try to sit and actively concentrate on emptying your mind or focusing on an object/word/thought, it’s difficult.  It could lead to frustration as well (the opposite of what we hope to achieve through meditation).  However, practicing asanas with consciousness and with an attention to detail ensures that for the time you are practicing you are also in a meditative state.

Perhaps this explains why I feel a sense of lightness here.  (Starting to wonder if I want to make it back to Bangalore….)

 

Lifestyle Uncategorized Yoga

Nightlife of a Different Sort

September 13, 2016

Lord Ganesh would probably be the poster boy for Hindu mythology.  I’ve rarely met a foreign yogi who hasn’t heard at least one legend about how he got the head of an elephant.  I’ve rarely been to an Indian or an Indophile’s house which doesn’t have a picture or a statue of Ganesh-ji.  I don’t profess to have more than a rudimentary knowledge of Hinduism and am not in the least iconoclastic.  But I also have a beautiful statue of Ganesh in my house.  One of my favorite pieces of jewellery is a gold Ganesh pendant that a friend of mine gave me when I was about to embark on an import journey in life (thanks Lakshmi).

I guess it was destiny for me to come to Maharashtra when the most special festival is going on.  Ganesh Chaturti here is celebrated like Dusshera in Mysore.  The festival has been immortalized in numerous Bollywood songs and last night I had the pleasure of visiting the 5 famous Ganesh mandals here in Pune.  These are so famous in fact, that it is rumoured that Bollywood celebrities come all the way here to offer their prayers.  Going to the old city and walking through the crowds to make your way to the Ganpatis is no easy feat, and I guess it was destiny once again that I had a group who was kind enough to think of me when they made their plan.  Had it not been for Hariharan, Shivangi and Subbu I don’t think I would ever have had the chance to participate in the festivities.

 

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The route.

We had a very capable and organized navigator.  Hariharan did the groundwork.  We had the names of the famous Ganapatis and the walking route printed out.  We knew that it was going to be crowded, so we left our bags behind in the car and ventured out on foot.  Don’t get too close to the venue to look for parking because you won’t find any.  We parked on the other side of the  Mula Mutha river and crossed the bridge.  The area is cordoned off for vehicles.

 

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Have to go back to this.  I’ve heard there is a sound and light show here.  Also, it looks very different from how it does in Bajirao Mastani.  I will have to go back for a closer look.

The Ganapatis we wanted to visit were:

  1. Kasba
  2. Tambdi
  3. Guruji Talim
  4. Tulsibaugh (we missed this one)
  5. Kesriwada

So the Ganapatis, in no particular order are:

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The oldest Ganapati.

While here I want to make sure that I have as much vada pav and pav bhaji and other local fare, and in keeping with that we stopped at JumboKing for their famous Wada Pav Burger.pomelo_20160913161647_save.jpg

 

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Mario Miranda on the wall.

 

Fortune tellers, old and new friends, phenomenal yoga teachers and amazing practice sessions…what else will Ganesh-ji bring my way during the rest of my Pune travels and in my life?

 

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The Yoga Mat

September 12, 2016

 

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A photograph at the institute.

 

A tip for all of you travelling to Pune to study at RIMYI:  Don’t take your yoga mat.  I know many people are attached to their mats, and they can’t imagine practicing on any other mat.  (Letting your yoga mat go would be a good lesson in Vairagya or non-attachment.)  Anyways, I was unaware that mats are available in the institute, so I brought along my own.  But I find I’m too lazy to lug it to the institute daily, so now I just use the mats there.

The institute has a wide collection of mats.  So depending on what you want to practice,

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Electric salad and Top Hats @Malaka

you can choose the thickness and stickiness of the mat.  The thing is, my mat gets very dirty (maybe because of my park classes), and I simply can’t get over how clean these mats are.  Even though hundreds of people use the mats daily, the mats are clean and tidy, so you don’t feel all icky about using them.

 

You probably use your mat daily.  Probably sweat on it a lot.  Probably walk across it with dirty feet, or others will walk across it with dirty feet.  No wonder people find their hands and feet slipping in Adhomukha Svanasana.  But a little care for your mat can ensure that it lasts for a while.

If you use your mat in the park (like a lot of my students do), then try to wash your mat weekly.  The best practice to wash your mat is to lay it down on the floor and wipe it down with a sponge and soapy water.  And then rinse the soap away using the same sponge.  Be gentle, because you don’t want to loosen and weaken the fibres of the mat.  I suggest you be eco-friendly and use water and vinegar mixed together.  In Wellington I used to spray Eucalyptus oil on my mat which would keep it smelling fresh and energizing.  You could also spray some essential oil on your mat.  Leave it out to dry.  Also, try not to use too much soap as you don’t want any residue on your mat.

Don’t wring the mat.  Again, it may loosen the fibres and you may end up wringing the mat out of shape.

I know there are special yoga mat wipes which you could use to clean your mat.  I know of one case where someone used baby wipes, which was a bad idea because it moisturized the mat.  Which is not ideal if you want to practice Adhomukha perfectly.  Some people use witch-hazel as well.  I’ve never done this.

What I usually do is put my mat in the washing machine and leave it out to dry in the balcony.  Simple and time effective.  However, I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t put in anything else with your mat.  One of my mats came out torn on one end.  Learn from my mistakes.

 

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Sunday agenda: Catching up on rest with Aston and scary movies on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Stretching – Then and Now

September 11, 2016

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@Malaka Spice

 

It’s been close to 10 days here and my routine here is as challenging as ever.  I realize that if it’s your first time here, then it does take a while to adjust and adapt.  The first time I had a 4 hour practice I was incredulous … and didn’t know how to deal with it.  Rather, I didn’t know how to make the most of it.  When I practice at home it’s only for an hour and a half, and by the end of it I’m drained out.  So the first few days here, I was always exhausted.  So much so that I felt I couldn’t give the best in the asanas and always felt sloppy and ungainly throughout the practice.  Mondays and Tuesdays specially, since practice on those days is almost 4 hours long, and by the time I’m done with practice its an ordeal just to walk home.  My fantasies these days centre around buying an apartment next to the institute so that I can crawl home in no time and surface again only for the next class.

However, now I’ve started to get used to the routine.  I’m actually able to make the most of the extended practice sessions.  In fact, 2 hours is just about enough time for a satisfying practice…how I’m going to sustain this when I’m back in Bangalore is the stuff other blog posts are made of.

Yesterday I had my class in the evening (where I’m referred to as ‘Bangalore’, and another

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Milk tea just this once?

girl is called ‘USA’, oh and then there’s ‘Madam China’ in the 6 am session).  It was an amazingly intense session.  The class was fast paced with a focus on stretching the lower body (Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottansana, Baddhakonasana etc).  Finally we did the Upavista Konasana, which is a challenging pose for me.  I slowly made my way down and eased my torso onto the floor.  I remember the days when I started practicing yoga and this pose was a big challenge.  I wouldn’t be able to extend my back and my hip joint was stiff.  As the years went by, I was still pretty reluctant to practice this pose because it didn’t come naturally at all and it was frustrating.  Even now, sometimes I’m able to execute this pose well, and sometimes I feel like lead.

Yesterday I was able to ease myself down and placed my forehead on the floor.  I stayed there kind of happy and satisfied with myself.  There’s always an element of pleasant surprise also, because some days your body can extend and some days it just doesn’t.  This reverie lasted until I heard, “BANGALORE!  You’re sleeping!  Extend more!  Walk forward with your hands!!!  That’s it, that’s good.  Trance mein chali gayi thi phir se.”

And I realized that for the most part, this is how I practice.  I arrange myself into a pose and then my mind says, “This is it, you’ve done well.  You’re done.”  And then my pose goes dead, and progress stops.  Or, as the teacher said, I fall asleep.  So when I was told to extend more, I had to push through the limitations of my mind (kind of still the internal dialogue) and discover if I could, in fact, go further.  I realized that I could, and for that little bit of time I experienced new life.  And received a bit of enlightenment.

The Halasana is a pose that we do daily in class.  We use props to ensure that the spine and neck are straight.  The picture is of me doing the Halasana many years ago.  When my internal dialogue was loud and overpowering.  I’m sure it’s improved over the years.  And after this class, I know how to work in this (and in all other asanas).

Halasana (Plough Pose)

How To

  1. Lie down straight on your back making sure your head lies on the floor.
  2. Exhale, bend your legs at the knees and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Lift your buttocks off of the floor supporting your back with your hands.
  4. Make sure to plant your elbows firmly on the floor.halasana
  5. Bring your body perpendicular to the floor, until your sternum touches your chin.
  6. Gently extend your legs out behind your head.
  7. Keep your face and neck relaxed.
  8. Practice with your arms stretched out behind and fingers interlocked to relive pain and cramps in fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Benefits

  • Relieves fatigue.
  • Helps to calm down the mind.
  • Relaxes your eyes and brain.
  • Controls hyper tension.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Lengthens the spine and improves alignment.
  • Reduces insomnia and anxiety.
  • Relieves stress-related headaches and migraines.

Contraindications

  • Don’t practice during menstruation and if you have cervical spondylosis.
Travel Yoga

A Yogi in Pune – Day 6

September 6, 2016

My host brought to my attention that there is a much respected astrologer close by.  Everyone goes to him and his reading is usually spot on.  The catch is that it’s difficult to get an appointment with him.  Plus I didn’t have my birth chart.

If I could get into the Iyengar institute, famed or their coldness and hard-to-get attitude, then the neighbourhood astrologer would be easy to crack, regardless of how famous he was.  Expecting it to take weeks to get an appointment, I started working on this right away.  To my surprise and delight, I managed to get an appointment in the third call.  So post my self practice session today, I decided to visit the astrologer.  Armed with a map and loads of curiosity.

In the rows and rows of non descript government quarters, I wouldn’t have been able to find his house with no address.  However, everyone seemed to know where he lived.  An appointment was going on when I walked in.  I’d expected the worst and was prepared to wait for hours, but Lady Luck was on my side and I waited for only 15 minutes.

I had asked my mother to send me photos of my natal chart on WhatsApp and I showed him these images on my laptop.

Astrologer: “You aren’t in the same line that you studied.”

Me: Nodded.

Astrologer: “What have you studied?”

Me:”Engineering.  I worked as a software engineer also for a long time too.”

Astrologer: “But what are you doing now?”

Me: “I teach yoga.”

Astrologer: “It says here that you will excel at the studies of old things…maybe history…maybe humanity.  You will do well in a field that requires you to gain deep knowledge, not superficial work.  It says here your area of work will be beneficial for mankind.  Are you only teaching or studying also?”

Me: “Yes, I study and teach.”

Astrologer: “Then there is nothing better for you than this.  This is what you were meant to do.  To study deeply and to help people.  And yoga is after all a study of the human body and the human mind.  And now with Modi getting interested…you can understand.”

Me: “Hmmm…but what else do you see?  Only teaching and studying yoga?  Same thing for the rest of my life?”

Astrolger: “No no….you will go deep.  Even amongst yoga teachers, not everyone reaches the trance state.  Not everyone goes to the higher levels.  You will also go.  You will teach and you will learn.  Yoga will take you to different places.  You will not settle abroad nor get a green card.  But you will travel far and frequently.”

Me: “I will travel for yoga?  But do you see a book published in my future somewhere?”

Astrologer: “When it comes to yoga, which is your chosen field of study, you will do whatever you want.  There are no boundaries to what you will do and there are no limits to how much you will contribute.  But stick to yoga, don’t do anything else.  Now you tell me, why did you take up yoga?”

Me: “I myself can’t really tell you why.  Something within me is drawn to the practice.”

Astrologer: “And that is what!  That is why you must continue.  Don’t worry about money.  You won’t get Rs. 5, 10, 50…when you earn you will get in the thousands at one go.  You will earn in different currencies, but only through yoga.  Don’t switch your line and stick to it.  Whatever you want, you will get.”

As I walked away from his office, I was reminded of what Pattabhi Jois was so fond of saying,” Do your practice and all is coming.”  In a way, this famed astrologer was telling me the same thing.

Travel

A Yogi in Pune – Day 5

September 5, 2016

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I’m a lover of stories (maybe a collector of stories?).  The house I’m living in is located on Flight Lt Sudhir Pawar Road.  I found out early that Sudhir Pawar was actually related to my landlady.  He was her uncle.  Once on a sortie, the plane malfunctioned and he crash landed.  The government named the road on which he lived after him.  Once upon a time there were several bungalows on this road, however now there are only two left, one of which is the one I’m staying in.  The compound has 3 bungalows within it, and the grave of a fakir.  That piqued my interest.

Yesterday, I had a chance to speak to my landlady’s father who is a retired architect.  In his 80s now, he is bedridden but his mind is spry and alert.  Deaf since the age of 17, he approached Morarji Desai for permission to travel abroad (in the 50s) to see if there were any doctors who could help him with his hearing.  Morarji Desai provided 400 pounds and letters of references to top doctors in Austria to help him out.  He set sail.  While on a quest to find a cure for his hearing loss, he managed to get a job in London, rented a Viscount’s house, learned lip reading from nuns in Birmingham, travelled all over Europe and finally decided to come home to get married and look after his younger brothers.  Still deaf, he decided on a final jaunt to Dubai for work before he came to India to settle down and start his own architecture firm.

So I decided to ask him about the fakir’s grave.  “No no he doesn’t walk…he doesn’t go anywhere.”

“What?” I was puzzled.

“Yes, he doesn’t walk anymore.  We’ve created a walkway for him and given him a house, so he doesn’t bother us.  He stays there only.”  So he was talking about the fakir.

The house he’s referring to is right behind the room which I’ve taken.  There’s a tree under which the fakir lies.  For obvious reasons I choose not to dwell on that right now.  However, I will try and get a picture of that house and tree one of these days.

Ganesh Chaturti is a big deal in Maharashtra and today was one of the first holidays pomelo_20160905130314_save.jpg(besides Sunday).  I realized this only last night and I got so excited when I realized last night that I could actually read all night if I wanted to.  That’s exactly what I planned on doing, but stumbled upon ‘The Painted Veil’ on YouTube.  I’m having issues putting the book down these days, and I was curious to see how they’ve done the movie.

I could hear ‘Ganpati bappa moriya!‘ as my hosts brought their Ganpati home and I went up later to see what they’ve done.  Family members have been visiting all day and festivity is in the air.  Tomorrow is the visarjan, where they will take the idol and submerge it the river.   Good to be in Maharashtra at this time.

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Stretching – Then and Now

January 16, 2014
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@Malaka Spice

 

It’s been close to 10 days here and my routine here is as challenging as ever.  I realize that if it’s your first time here, then it does take a while to adjust and adapt.  The first time I had a 4 hour practice I was incredulous … and didn’t know how to deal with it.  Rather, I didn’t know how to make the most of it.  When I practice at home it’s only for an hour and a half, and by the end of it I’m drained out.  So the first few days here, I was always exhausted.  So much so that I felt I couldn’t give the best in the asanas and always felt sloppy and ungainly throughout the practice.  Mondays and Tuesdays specially, since practice on those days is almost 4 hours long, and by the time I’m done with practice its an ordeal just to walk home.  My fantasies these days centre around buying an apartment next to the institute so that I can crawl home in no time and surface again only for the next class.

However, now I’ve started to get used to the routine.  I’m actually able to make the most of the extended practice sessions.  In fact, 2 hours is just about enough time for a satisfying practice…how I’m going to sustain this when I’m back in Bangalore is the stuff other blog posts are made of.

Yesterday I had my class in the evening (where I’m referred to as ‘Bangalore’, and another

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Milk tea just this once 🙂

girl is called ‘USA’, oh and then there’s ‘Madam China’ in the 6 am session).  It was an amazingly intense session.  The class was fast paced with a focus on stretching the lower body (Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottansana, Baddhakonasana etc).  Finally we did the Upavista Konasana, which is a challenging pose for me.  I slowly made my way down and eased my torso onto the floor.  I remember the days when I started practicing yoga and this pose was a big challenge.  I wouldn’t be able to extend my back and my hip joint was stiff.  As the years went by, I was still pretty reluctant to practice this pose because it didn’t come naturally at all and it was frustrating.  Even now, sometimes I’m able to execute this pose well, and sometimes I feel like lead.

 

Yesterday I was able to ease myself down and placed my forehead on the floor.  I stayed there kind of happy and satisfied with myself.  There’s always an element of pleasant surprise also, because some days your body can extend and some days it just doesn’t.  This reverie lasted until I heard, “BANGALORE!  You’re sleeping!  Extend more!  Walk forward with your hands!!!  That’s it, that’s good.  Trance mein chali gayi thi phir se.”

And I realized that for the most part, this is how I practice.  I arrange myself into a pose and then my mind says, “This is it, you’ve done well.  You’re done.”  And then my pose goes dead, and progress stops.  Or, as the teacher said, I fall asleep.  So when I was told to extend more, I had to push through the limitations of my mind (kind of still the internal dialogue) and discover if I could, in fact, go further.  I realized that I could, and for that little bit of time I experienced new life.  And received a bit of enlightenment.

The Halasana is a pose that we do daily in class.  We use props to ensure that the spine and neck are straight.  The picture is of me doing the Halasana many years ago.  When my internal dialogue was loud and overpowering.  I’m sure it’s improved over the years.  And after this class, I know how to work in this (and in all other asanas).

Halasana (Plough Pose)

How To

  1. Lie down straight on your back making sure your head lies on the floor.
  2. Exhale, bend your legs at the knees and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Lift your buttocks off of the floor supporting your back with your hands.
  4. Make sure to plant your elbows firmly on the floor.halasana
  5. Bring your body perpendicular to the floor, until your sternum touches your chin.
  6. Gently extend your legs out behind your head.
  7. Keep your face and neck relaxed.
  8. Practice with your arms stretched out behind and fingers interlocked to relive pain and cramps in fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Benefits

  • Relieves fatigue.
  • Helps to calm down the mind.
  • Relaxes your eyes and brain.
  • Controls hyper tension.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Lengthens the spine and improves alignment.
  • Reduces insomnia and anxiety.
  • Relieves stress-related headaches and migraines.

Contraindications

  • Don’t practice during menstruation and if you have cervical spondylosis.