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pune travels

Travel Yoga

Don’t Go After the Stretch

September 10, 2019

pc: @khan.clicks @deavalin_david_dsouza makeup: makeupbyhennaanbaree location: Cubbon Park

I had a late class yesterday.  It started at 7.10 pm and went up to 8.40 pm.  The teacher was new to me.  After the usual queries (“Where are you from?  Who’s your teacher?”) I spread my mat and got ready for a class.

All the teachers at RIMYI have a distinct style of teaching.  The strong teacher-student tradition of yoga ensures that your attitude, approach and philosophy towards the practice reflects that of your teacher.  Your students will be able to see the ‘Iyengar’ or ‘Ashtanga’ shades in your classes.  If you go to multiple teachers/don’t go to any teacher – that is pretty evident too.

There isn’t much of a crowd at RIMYI this year.  Last night’s class had about 15 students.  We had enough space to spread out.  The class was quiet.  It wasn’t action-packed or fast paced.  We did very few asanas.  We held each asana for a very very long time.

As you continue to hold, you’re able to go deeper into the pose.  You can intensify the stretch.  You can observe which limbs are working, which are sleeping.  I worked on lengthening and opening my torso in Trikonasana – I noticed that I could actually activate the hamstrings more.  Similarly in Parsvakonasana.

“You may be feeling a stretch in your hamstrings and on your groin,” said the teacher.  “But feel the quietness in your abdomen.”

I blinked a couple of times. It’s a mannerism Ive noticed recently.  It’s an automatic response if I’m surprised or intrigued.

“Most of us go after the stretch.  We think asana works only if we feel the stretch.  But all asanas bring quietness in the abdomen too.  Find this quiet.”

And with these few sentences, he changed my asana practice forever.

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

The First Class

September 4, 2019

How many times have you quickly gone up into sarvangasana? Do you remember to pull the shoulders back, open the chest, activate the thighs and lift the tailbone up? Seemingly small modifications can change the entire posture.

Perhaps it was nervous excitement or maybe anticipation, but my first class was amazing.  By the end of the class my blood was singing and my body felt like it was thrumming (to the beat of my blood?).

I am a sucker for simple classes.  I believe if you focus on the simple stuff everything else falls into place.  This class focused on the tailbone and sacrum region.  We started the class with adhomukha virasana.  Rajalakshmi asked us to continue to extend the arms.  “This extension isn’t because you are lengthening your bones!!!” she boomed into the mike.

“The bones never extend!!!  It’s impossible for you to extend any of your bones!!!” she continued.  “Pay close attention to the parts of your body that make the extension possible!” she said.

She encouraged us to pay close attention to the tailbone-sacrum region and observe how it participates in forward bends and twists.

The most interesting part of the class was dissecting the parivritta trikonasana or the revolved triangle posture.  There are three movements that make this asana possible: the extension of the side, the bending forward keeping that extension intact and finally, the opening of the chest.  And once we were in the final posture we were asked to pull the tailbone and sacrum in to the body.

At one point Rajalakshmi caught me looking at my hip.  I realize I do this unconsciously every time I practice this asana.  I use my eyes to ensure that my hip is pushed back, which detracts from the overall experience of the asana.  “Your side is compressing and you’re becoming a ball,” Rajalakshmi explained patiently.  “Extend your chin forward and away from the sacrum.  Open the sacrum and lengthen the side!” she boomed again.

This is the magic of the annual pilgrimage to RIMYI.

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.

Uncategorized

A New Vrkshasana

September 6, 2017

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I love the basics.  Even though advanced yoga poses can be exciting, there is still something lovely about the simplicity of the basics.  Basic asanas are like the comfort food of yoga.

My schedule has changed a little bit for this month, so I now have Devki’s class on Wednesdays from 7.45-9 am.

In today’s class we focused on the groin.  I’ve been here for a month and so far I haven’t done a blog on any class I’ve attended, but today’s class was different from any so far.  We focused on the spine and the root of the spine (moola).  We were supposed to grip the spine and the root throughout the sequence.  We started with the Swastikasana and went on to the Baddhakonasana. 

 

 

The class had a pleasant tempo.  It didn’t feel like I was struggling in the asanas and pushing my limits.  Yet, as the class progressed I could clearly feel that I was settling into the asanas rather than fighting my way into them.  As though my limbs were moulding and unfolding effortlessly.  I feel I was discovering what the body can do when the mind is quiet and the ego recedes.  By the time we got to the Trikonasana I felt light and lithe and it was the best Trikonasana I’ve done while here in Pune.

I always learn something new in Devki’s class.  And it’s always something fascinating.POMELO_20170906094836_save  The Vrkshasana/Tree Pose is perhaps the first balancing posture that we learn in yoga class.  Over the years I’ve heard a lot about the symbolism associated with this pose.  The more common ones are to be rooted and strong and to find balance despite what is happening around you.  But today Devki said be like a tree and provide shade and protection to all that come to you.  A tree doesn’t judge a good person or bad, an animal or a human.  It provides shade, protection and relief to one and all.

Although as human beings we are constantly evolving and growing (as we should), we can also be like the tree and ensure that external factors don’t diminish our light or detract us from the work that we are meant to do.  We should be compassionate towards all who we come in contact with and see the larger picture even in the midst of the most sticky situations.  The tree that provides protection is larger than those that come to it for relief and has a greater purpose.  Think about this when practicing your Vrkshasana next time.

Towards the end of the class we went into Baddhakonasana once again and performed it like the Savasana – with the intent of relaxing the body.  I couldn’t help but smile when I realized my spine, the root (moola) of the spine and the posture had all come together effortlessly in the Baddhakonasana.

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Lifestyle Travel Yoga

When the going gets tough…

September 22, 2016

I watched ‘Eat Pray Love’ and later devoured the book.  I loved the book and the movie.  I remember googling to find out what ashram Elizabeth Gilbert had checked into.  My friends and  discussed the book and its ideas to death.  We planned similar journeys.  And finally, all of us hoped that should we ever experience a life altering event, we would have the courage and strength to overcome it just like Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert went on to write another book about her life post marriage with the love of her life (whom she met in at the end of ‘Eat Pray Love’).  I haven’t had a chance to read that book yet, but I do hope to pick it up soon.  Over the past few weeks the internet exploded with news that Elizabeth Gilbert has divorced her husband of 12 years – for the woman she’s in love with.  The thing is, this news wasn’t brought to the world through newspapers and magazine stories; Gilbert put it up on her Facebook page herself.  She included a picture of herself with the woman she loves.

Today while in the Sirsasana, with rivulets of sweat running down(up?) my torso and onto the mat, I think I gained a new perspective.  This morning we were taught how to balance our shoulders and torso in the headstand.  The teacher took us through various moves that helped us understand the positioning and behaviour of our shoulder blades and other parts of the torso.  This was to give us insight into how we can improve our headstand.  I was experimenting with my headstand and the experiments had me almost toppling and definitely very very unstable.

I’m sure falling in love while married, deciding to commit to the woman you love (despite knowing she has terminal cancer) and finally calling it quits on a relationship of 12 years with the love of your life (and which has been immortalized in a couple of best selling books) wasn’t easy.  And it didn’t happen overnight.  There must’ve been moments of uncertainty, of fear, of helplessness, anxiety, doubt, anger…and an overwhelming sense of insecurity.  Deciding to go public with an intensely private matter of this kind also couldn’t have been easy for  a woman known the world over for her soul searching trip to India and Bali.  No one in the public domain is impervious to criticism.  With social media being so pervasive, every detail of your life can be analysed.  You can be publicly berated for your actions, opinions and personal choices.  Therefore I think it was very very brave of her to be open about the choice that she made, and to risk a lot of bad publicity, ‘unfriends’, ‘unfollows’ and ‘unlikes’.  In an age where lifestyle choices are beamed out to the world the second they are made, we are constantly under the scanner.

For health and fitness professionals, it is imperative to look their best in every post.  Even pictures of them looking less than their best are always pictures of them looking fabulously less than their best.  The constant scrutiny from fans and followers creates intense pressure to look a particular way or make certain choices.  For fitness professionals choices such as drinking, smoking and indulging the sweet tooth present a challenge – to broadcast or not to broadcast?  I wonder, for instance, as a yoga expert what if I were to one day get a condition that yoga is meant to prevent – how would I go public with it?  Would I, like Gilbert, have the courage to talk about my experience?  Or what if I were to gain all the weight back (a fear that I constantly live with)?  How would I even begin to talk about it?  Which is why I feel like the protagonist on ‘Eat Pray Love’ is more courageous than what was portrayed in the book.  Her courage is uncommon and her quest for herself is very honest.

This is something we can all learn from.  What if an event in your life forced you to re-evaluate everything you’ve stood for so far?  Most of us are so fixated in our opinions and lives that we can almost never admit that we are wrong.  And what if we had to do so publicly?  I can’t imagine what Elizabeth Gilbert went through, but I think it would have been a process of immense growth and fulfilment.

When was the last time you were faced with a situation that challenged your basics and how did you deal with it?  Was it a process of growth and learning?  If yes, what did you learn?

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?

 

 

 

Travel Yoga

A Yogi in Pune – Day 3

September 3, 2016

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I had a 7 am class this morning and boy was it jam packed!  I think the practice hall can accommodate about 25 people comfortably but we crammed in about 50 people.  We were told to keep our mats right next to each other.  To adjust and to understand.  In life and on the mat.

My self practice was in the evening today and it was simply AMAAAAAAAZING!!!!  I had been avoiding practicing back bends for a while.  I’ve analysed why in my head several times, however will take reams and reams of blog posts to get into why.  Anyways, what I really like about the self practice sessions here is that the students come and practice with unwavering dedication, even though there are no teachers to help out or to guide.  I come across so many people who say that they need to join a class else they slack off.  Until now I understood this as a lack of inspiration to work out, to dance, to practice yoga etc.  However, when I look around at the self practice room and see people practicing intensely, I have a new found respect for those who maintain a regular fitness regime.  For myself, yoga isn’t a fitness regime.  I’ll risk sounding clichéd, but it’s like brushing my teeth.  It sets the pace of my days, it makes me feel balanced, it helps me focus and express myself.  Yoga simply defines my days.

 

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Soup of the Day: Tomato and Carrot

 

Today also marks the momentous occasion of me buying my very first Iyengar yoga shorts.  There is a local man here (a Mr. Vasanth), who along with his wife makes yoga shorts and tees and props too.  I’m going to upload his contact details here so that all who are interested can contact him.  They customize the shorts as well, so I’ve asked for plain black.  Until then I will make do with the blue tie and dyed ones I chose from amongst the ones he had.

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And finally my first weekend in Pune has arrived!  Anuja and I are going out for a meal so that we can let our hair down and set the tone for the weekend.  I have two complete days to work this exhaustion out of my system (maybe going out tonight isn’t in line with that goal…).  Anyways, girls who work hard need to play hard too.

Also, we watched ‘Hush’ last night.  Completely forgettable.

 

 

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

A Yogi in Pune – Day 2

September 2, 2016
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Soup of the Day: Ghia soup.  I’m telling you, a hostess after my own heart.

I’m not sure whether it’s the my cold or it’s the intense practice here, but by the end of each practice session I’m EXHAUSTED.  This level of exhaustion is new to me.  In Bangalore I’m up super early and I have loads of energy to teach morning AND evening AND to do my self practice AND to write AND go to work.  Here I’m too tired to even eat sometimes and I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  This morning I woke up at 6, but lazed around in bed because I had to be at the institute only by 10.30 AM.  These small luxuries will only be available this month to me, I reasoned.

Today I had my self practice session first.  I got there early and spoke to  a few other first time students. And then it was time to quiz Mr. Pandurang for all everything he could tell me.  Who was this Pandurang Rao and how was he so intimately connected to the institute?  What was his story?  I decided to start asking him in Hindi about how long he’s been here.  He peered up at me from behind his thick glasses in surprise.  After a few questions we fell into an easy conversation.  He told me that Prashaant, Geeta and he used to practice with Guruji in the early 60s, in the house in the city, which is where the family used to stay then.  The loyal students at the time felt that Mr. Iyengar should have a place of his own to teach and practice in, similar to how he had studios all across the world.  Mr. Pandurang was a part of the original group of people who toiled hard to secure and create the space the world knows as RIMYI.  The opening was in 1975.  Pandurang speaks in the same low voice and neither his face nor his voice have any expression.  “What year where born?” he asked me abruptly.

“1982,” I replied.

“Hmmm…abh dekho, yeh 1975 se hai.  Aap thoda time do.  Yahaan ke barre mein bahaut hai seekhne ko.”  And with that our tete a tete came to an end because I had to go for my self practice session.

My self practice today went a lot better than yesterday, partly because I vegetated the morning away, conserving my energy for the session.  Here I encountered another luxury, the luxury of practicing with no time limits.  At home we all have time constraints.  Having what seems like all the time in the world and all the tools at your disposal, can put you in your happy place.  However, it can be overwhelming too.

 

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Room where my led class happens.  Pink ropes, what more could a girl want?

 

My led class was in the evening today and I met a Korean student while crossing the road and we chatted all the way to the institute.  After changing into the ‘uniform’ (more on this later), we trudged up three flights of stairs to the Women’s class.  Twice a week the institute has a women’s only session and I get to take the Friday eve women’s class.  The teacher is a bundle of energy.  She keeps a nonstop banter going through the class.  And she keeps her sharp eyes on everyone.  The caught me looking at the floor and shrilled, “BANGALORE!!!  Keep your eyes open!  Always!  You are with me!  You are with the class!  You are with YOURSELF!!!

It’s my turn to be at the receiving end I thought to myself as my mouth curled up into a smile and I nodded lightly.

While doing the Trikonasana: “BANGALORE!!! Look straight at me!  You are in my class!  Stay in my class!  Stay with us!  What are you looking at the ceiling for?!

Next time, she caught me glancing at the clock and she bellowed, “Why do your eyes always go up?!!! TRANCE mein chali jaati hai (giggles).  Trance mein jaana hai par meri class mein nahin.  In this class just go into the Trikonasana.”

During Sirsasana she bellowed, “BANGALORE!!!  Again!  Be with the class!!!  Come to the centre of the room, place your mat HERE and now face that way and now up you go

During the Sarvangasana: “BANGA-, wait what’s your name?”

Me: Pragya

Teacher: “Ek to itna lamba naam leke aa jaati hai.  Look!  Your blankets are uneven!  Make the even end on one side and odd end on the other side.  Yes, like that.”

As we filed out of class,  I said my customary thank you to which she said a simple: Good.

Hmmm, go figure.

I walked home and sat to pen down the day.  As I tied together some lose ends at work, Anuja (provider of the hot soups) and I made plans for the weekend.  I want to see the sights and sounds of Pune.  See different facets of the city.  She’s proving to be a great storehouse of info…and she’s following this blog too :).

But first we’ve decided to watch a scary film on Netflix tonight.  Turns out, both of us love scary movies, but prefer watching them with people.

Until tomorrow, stay healthy, stay happy!

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