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Dengue Fever – My Story

October 15, 2017

Baddhakonasana.

I was supposed to come to Delhi on the 18th of this month and leave on the 21st. Since I took two months off from teaching to study in Pune, I felt I should get back as soon as possible.  With this in mind I messaged my students  that classes would start on the 2nd of Oct.


 

 

 

 

 

But on the 28th of September I started feeling a bit tired and my appetite disappeared.  I found out from some other students that it was a 24 hour virus that was going around.  I managed to drag myself to class on Friday and Saturday, but collapsed in bed post class on both days. My sister was slated to visit me for a day on Saturday and I willed myself to get better. I popped a few Crocins on Thursday and Friday and hoped the fever would sweat out of my body. On Saturday the sis arrived and I was still a little shaky.  But I was tired of laying in bed all day, infirm.   We set out for the Osho park and I hoped that being out and about would make me feel better. I returned that night as tired as ever.

Kakuli & I in the Osho Gardens.

With Sneha in the Osho Gardens.

The next day was the 1st of Oct. I got to Bangalore and once again collapsed in bed.  The virus was supposed to be only a 24 hour virus and I was sure that I would be better in the next couple of hours.

I took classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It was great to see my students again, but I still didn’t feel 100% myself. I didn’t have the energy to do my own practice and I couldn’t figure out why. I felt that if I was able to drive myself to classes then I should be able to practice too. At the same time I started to question the meaning of life and dwell on its futility.

I pinged my sisters that someone had given me the evil eye because what else could be wrong? I had no appetite and I was listless. I asked a friend of mine how to get rid of the evil eye and went out and even went out to buy a packet of red chillies.

Upon my mom’s insistence I went to the doc.  I’d never had to go to the doctor and so actually had to ask some people in my building for the closest reliable and trusted doctor. The doc asked me to get a platelet count done and also to check for Typhoid and Dengue.  The results showed my platelet count was 80000 (below normal range but not life threatening) and I tested positive for Dengue. The doc and my mom gave me an ultimatum. The doctor hooked me up to an IV and pumped glucose and Paracetamol into my system. My friend booked a ticket for me to Delhi. I went home and threw some stuff into a suitcase. Then I collapsed until another friend arrived to drop me to the airport.

No one in my family has ever had Dengue fever, but because this disease reaches epidemic like proportions every year in Delhi, everyone knew what to do. Since I fell sick I’ve heard of so many other people who’ve fallen sick during or after their time at RIMYI. Usually Dengue fever lasts anywhere between 5-7 days and it takes a person almost 2 weeks to completely recover. Because of my regular yoga practice I feel I was able to fight the infection relatively quickly. I had fever for about 2 days and was able to attend and conduct classes soon after.

This was the first time I fell sick (thanks to the yogi lifestyle) and my recovery was remarkably quick too.

Here are a few things I learned from getting this disease. Hopefully this will help you in combating the disease.

  1. Use your mosquito repellent.   I’ve heard Citronella oil,  Eucalyptus oil and Neem oil also keep the mosquitos away.
  2. Don’t fight the idea that you might be infected despite taking all sorts precautions.  I was almost in denial as I told the doc that I was going about my normal active life and didn’t understand how I could be infected.
  3. Take care of yourself – as yogis we sometimes put self-care on the backburner.  Cancel your classes and try and sleep.  Allow the fever to do what it will and focus on resting.
  4. Allow someone else to take care of you. You’ll have someone to tell you that life isn’t over.  I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time at home, but it made my recovery that much faster and more pleasant.
  5. When I had a fever all I felt like eating was apples and drinking cold water.  Looking at even a slice of toast made me want to throw up.  Before I found out it was Dengue I felt I should force myself to eat a little bit or I would fall sick.  Now I know that loss of appetite is a symptom of Dengue and my body craved hydration.
  6. Monitor your platelets count daily!
  7. Papaya leaf juice works like a charm.  Take some papaya leaf juice and water and grind them in your mixer.  Strain and drink.
  8. Sleep!
  9. Catch up on your reading.  I renewed my Kindle Unlimited subscription and my Goodreads saw a lot of activity too.
  10. Don’t worry about your practice/classes/work.  Once your mind and body are well rested, you’ll be back with a bang.

 

I hope to never ever be sick again.  This illness has reinforced my belief in making healthy choices every day without fail or excuses.  Sometimes getting an infection can’t be prevented but being in good health ensures you fight the infection like a boss.  This illness has also made me grateful for all the wonderful people in my life.  People who wake up early to drop you to the airport, people who check up on you in the middle of the night, those who ping you from around the world to make sure you’re OK.  I was lucky to be able to fly home at a moment’s notice and my mom was ready.  I’m grateful to my mother’s maids who knew where to get papaya and giloy leaves and promptly brought them home.  Even my tattoo artist reached out to me!

Any disease takes a toll on you physically, but if you have people around you who love you and care about you, you win the battle sooner.  I had loads of people who were there for me, and for that I can never be thankful enough.

 

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Finally some progress…

September 11, 2017

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Our goals form the blue print for our lives.  As kids we think of  growing up and becoming so and so.  Once we become so and so our goals change to the kind of cars or houses we want.  The kind of person we want to be with.  More common goals are to lose 10 kgs before year end, learn how to swim, run a marathon, travel the world, complete a reading challenge.

My first ever goal in life was to be Nancy Drew when I grew up.  As I grew up I became more laid back and wanted to spend all my time reading and writing.  My only goal in life was to spend as much time as possible reading as many books as possible.  I also wanted to write books for a living.  I finally ended up writing code for a living and that period of my life is conspicuous by a total lack of goals to aspire to.  Everyone else wanted promotions, raises, onsite trips.  People were flaunting cars, homes and eligible marital prospects.  One day I realized that if I didn’t start working out I would have nothing to wear since I had steadily outgrown many things in my closet.  That led me to the gym and then to yoga class.

As with most yoga students my first goal was to touch my toes.  I remember that I was elated when I first did that.  Even more when I touched my forehead to my knee.  Today I cringe at how bad my form was then.  Lots of people want to do the headstand and handstand.  Studying at RIMYI has made a lot of my goals accessible to me (Kurmasana for one).

As an Intermediate 2 practitioner you are expected to be comfortable in many variations of sirsasana.  You’re upside down in all classes (unless you’re menstruating), so headbalancing is crucial for an Iyengar practitioner.  There are bound to be many who topple over or come down for a little break.  When this happens you hear everything from ‘Shouldn’t have had so many modaks’ to ‘You call yourself teachers!!!’ to ‘In Intermediate 2 for so long and still not able to sustain?!’  Usually accompanied by a barrage of Marathi.

When I was here last year I used to fantasize about holding the headstand for 10 minutes.  I knew that was a prerequisite for the next level.  I’d heard of classes where students have been upside down for 20 minutes at a stretch.  All of last month I’ve worked on steadily increasing the amount of time I stay up.  I started with 5 minutes and then held it for 8 minutes for a while.  Then this morning I decided to be a little more adventurous and see if I could hold on for 10 minutes.  And I did!!!

Needless to say, it felt amazing!!!  Achieving these goals only prove that with only a little bit of discipline and smart work you are closer to your goals than you think.  Even goals that are mere fantasies for you right now.

 

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Aga Khan Palace

 

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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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Paying Homage

August 24, 2017

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Last Sunday was BKS Iyengar’s punyatithi (death anniversary).  There was a function organised by the institute in which Abhijata spoke.

When I got to the institute (half an hour early), it was buzzing with activity.  Students were helping to arrange mats on the floor for all of us to sit on and technicians were taking care of the audio/video system.  The program started with the invocation to Patanjali and then Abhijata took the stage.

Her speech was a combination of personal memories of her grandfather, his approach to yoga, his method of teaching, his commitment to the subject and his belief system.  A nice little addition was the re-enactment of scenes from BKS Iyegnar’s classes, where the rest of the teachers went up on stage and pretended to be students as Guruji taught.  Abhijata did her best impersonation of the disciplinarian Guru while we tried to imagine our teachers in the plight that we so often find ourselves in.

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What I really liked about Abhijata’s speech was how she wove the lessons learned with personal anecdotes.  When talking about how Iyengar yoga helps us in cultivating a sense of peace or understanding who we really are, she said the Guruji had once said ‘My sole and soul is the same.’  Meaning that it is through the understanding and awareness of the gross body that he was able to cultivate insight.  You need to work so hard, make your body so potent that you can escape gravity.  Although anatomy is a rigid structure, you can’t pinpoint where the body ends and mind begins.  Your inner working has to be revealed through your outer self.

She also said that yoga is a living art.  Asana is a metaphor for life.  Yoga teaches you how to navigate through problems in life.    Chitta vritti has to come so that you can learn how to deal with it.  Action can’t guide, reflection does.  The prakriti has infinite potential, so it is possible to change our lives.  As an analogy think of a farmer laying the groundwork for his crops.  He does his best without thinking of the mechanics of how the seeds will sprout.  He lays the groundwork and the seeds sprout on their own.  Similarly, we must put in the practice, and everything else will also fall in place.

Life is to live.  Your sensitivity to yourself and the world around you increases through the practice of yoga, and this heightened sensitivity helps you to solve your problems.  For this your tapas has to have fire.  Your practice should have drive, passion and zeal.

It was fitting then that Abhijata ended her speech a little teary eyed and saying ‘He taught me how to live.’

 

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Recounting experiences with BKS Iyengar

 

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Notes From Pranayama Class

August 17, 2017

A valuable addition to my schedule this year are the Pranayama classes.  To the masses Pranayama consists of vigorous breathing patterns to be done for 10 minutes daily and designed to keep your skin glowing, hair shiny and body young.  Unlike the heavy panting/wheezing breathing we see recommended on many a popular TV show, here Pranayama is all about subtlety.

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I had my third pranayama class last night and so far all the classes have followed a fixed pattern.  We’ve spent most of the class in the Supta Swastikasana/Savasana and almost played with the breath.  While we try to gently ‘tame’ and understand the breath, Devki reiterates why it is important to build a solid foundation for pranayama practice.

Yesterday she used the example of a clay pot.  If the pot isn’t properly baked, then anyIMG_20170728_205903_201 amount of water you put into it won’t stay in it.  Similarly our bodies have to be ready for Pranayama for it to be effective and not harm us.  Devki said that many times students ask her why we aren’t doing seated pranayama.  The reason is that most of us aren’t able to maintain a straight spine throughout the practice.  With a crooked spine the breath is constricted and the organs of breath are uncomfortable.  (BKS Iyengar has said:  Crooked body crooked mind.)  The organs of breath need to be disciplined before we can start to control the breath.  For this reason we spend almost 90% of the class in a supine position using bolsters and blankets.

POMELO_20170817210148_saveAs we are settled in our positions with bolsters and blankets, Devki talks us through what we are doing and the importance of it.  In yesterday’s class she said something relevant to what I wrote about in my previous blog.  I received a comment on that blog about the relationship of backbends to emotions.  (Incidentally, backbends are also invigorating and energizing.  I missed practicing them today and I’m yawning despite the cup of coffee that I’ve fixed for myself.  On the bright side, not in tears or any other depressing mood.)  She said that there are emotional granthis (knots) in our thoracic spine.  The aim of asana and pranayama is to remove these granthis from our bodies.  Whether these granthis are in the brain or in the heart, we need to eliminate them to move forward in our yogic journeys.  These granthis are not just of memories accumulated in this lifetime, but memories of several lifetimes.  There are many who believe that we inherit these memories from our parents and ancestors, and the practice of yoga digs deep to rid us of these blocks.  Granthis are also called samskaras.)

When we practice backbends, it is these granthis that we are confronting.  By opening upPOMELO_20170817205505_save the chest, we allow a metaphorical ‘airing out’ of stale and painful emotions.  Everything that happens to us results in shaping our world view and behaviour.  Sometimes what happens to us is painful and unfair.  Unfortunately, these events make an imprint in our minds and effect our behaviour.  We sometimes never let go of painful memories and they fester in our subconscious brain and almost always result in psychosomatic pain.

In the study of yoga, backbends come after a certain level of proficiency and practice.  I feel this is for two reasons.  The first reason is that our body has to have a certain level of strength and flexibility before we can start more challenging body work.  The other reason is that we need a certain amount of mental clarity and maturity to deal with the emotions that will surface.

‘Bending backward’ also means going out of your way to accommodate a person or a situation.  It implies putting yourself on the backburner.  If you analyse the quality of your backbends, it might give you insight into how much you allow others to influence your life, or how assertive/aggressive you are about yourself and your opinions.

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Travel

RIMYI – The Story So Far

August 15, 2017

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My third week here in Pune has begun and I think I can finally get my thoughts together to put into a blog.  They’ve given us a day off and I thought a mid-week break is a great time to do some laundry, catch up on sleep and write this blog entry.

First things first: to my surprise and delight I have been put into the Intermediate 2 classes, which is a level above what I was in last year.  And for this reason I think I’m finding everything a bit overwhelming.  Or at least I have been so far, perhaps this week will be better..

POMELO_20170814212044_saveI’m staying at the same place I stayed in last time.  For some reason, ever since I got here, I’ve been unable to get a restful sleep.  When you spend a lot of time upside down during the day, you just feel like crawling into bed.  There have been times when I felt like I should sleep during the day, but strangely, I wouldn’t be able to!  Then one day while walking home after a super long self-practice session, I realized what was happening.  The backbends that I have been practicing daily are the culprits.  I’ve observed that whenever I practice backbends, I am an emotional wreck for a while.  It’s not something that I can distract myself from with inane stuff on Netflix.  It’s a bit more serious.  And it happens to a lot of other people as well.  When you bend backward, your emotional centre is exposed and open.  Sometimes this causes the flood gates to open.  You remember insignificant things and start to feel bad about them.  Or events that you thought you’d already dealt with come to the fore and you realise that things aren’t ok.  It’s a barrage of emotion that erupt and possess you and bring you to tears.  But if it’s an emotional detox, then it’s probably good to get this stuff out of your system to clean up your space.  So despite the fact that I absolutely dread backbends, I keep pushing through.  I figure that once I’m done purging all this emotion I’ll be able to sleep better.  At least I hope so.  Time will tell.

What I like about the classes I’m taking this year is that we are being taught to look at asanas from a higher vantage point.  Instead of the technicalities of asanas, we are being guided on the syntax and semantics of our approach to yoga.  I feel this helps in consolidating asana practice with the other limbs of yoga.  And since I’m making it a point to spend some time at the library, I’m able to focus on the subject as a whole, instead of just the asana bit of it.

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I’m always reading something yoga related.  Personal accounts of yoga journeys are my favorites.  I had been meaning to read Elizabeth Kadetsky’s ‘First There is a Mountain’ every since I saw it on Amazon.  I found it in the RIMYI library.  Although the book is a bit long-winded, I feel a lot of students who are on a quest for ‘something more’ will find this book insightful.  Now that I’m done with this one, I’ve started reading the first volume of ‘Astadala Yogamala’ which is comprehensive collection of BKS Iyengar’s speeches and articles through his entire career.  To read him in his own words is to maybe come a little bit closer to the mind of the genius.

 

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Mr. Iyengar’s own copy!  Very exciting!!!

 

 

Travel Yoga

A Chat with Mr. Pandurang

September 27, 2016

 

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A few Iyengar Yoga publications

 

The other day I walked into the practice hall and saw Mr. Pandurang sitting on the stage and the Chinese students gathered around as the audience.  I found out that the Chinese students had requested him to give them a talk about his experience with yoga and the institute over the years.  Pandu’s talk was informative and interesting.  Here’s what I remember from it.

Pandu came with BKS Iyengar to look at the site for the institute in the early 70s.  By this time there were many Iyengar schools around the world and none in Pune.  Guruji used to travel all around the world conducting workshops, but there was no institute in India where he could teach.  The earliest students used to convene in Guruji’s house and practice in whatever space was available.

The decision to build the institute was also fraught with uncertainty.    The fear that no one would come to practice at the institute was in everyone’s mind throughout the construction process.  At one point Guruji told Pandu that if they were unable to use the building for yoga classes, then they could always rent it out as a wedding hall!

The weekend that the finishing touches were being made to the building, Guruji was in Bombay.  His wife had been ill for a long time and she got worse during that weekend.  She eventually ended up passing away and Pandu and everyone else at the institute weren’t sure of how to tell Guruji.  Finally Pandu called Guruji and told him to head back to Pune as his wife was very ill.  Guruji would later talk about how he had in inkling that there was something seriously wrong.  By the time BKS Iyengar came back to Pune, his wife had already expired.  They decided that they would name the institute after her.

The first students to come to the institute were from England.  Some of the 70 odd pomelo_20160924112514_save.jpgstudents brought along thick mats with them.  Those thick mats (sort of like workout/gym mats) were a novelty here in India and localites were very curious about the mats.  BKS Iyengar, being the innovative man he was, thought of different ways to use the mats.  His creativity and love for his subject was such that he was constantly thinking of how to make the poses better and more accessible.  That is how he came up with different ways to use ordinary objects such as chairs, blankets and blocks.  According to Pandu there are 250 ways to use the Setubandhasana box.  He also added that if he were conducting the teachers’ exam he would fail everyone because nowadays teachers aren’t as innovative as they used to once upon a time (referring to the fact that we don’t know the 250 different ways of using a prop).

The story of the sticky mats is pretty much the same.  This time it was a German student who brought  the mat.  In Europe they were using such mats under their carpets so that the carpets wouldn’t slip.  The student thought out of the box and brought it back to India.  Mr. Iyengar looked at the sticky mat and his little grey cells started working.

 

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Mr. Iyengar’s many watches.  Useful when you need to do 20 minute Sirsasanas. 

On the subject of modern teachers he said Guruji always said that you should only follow one teacher.  When he came across students who followed multiple teachers and schools he would say that you are not a lover, but a gatherer.  You are just going around gathering the knowledge of yoga.  There are many instances where people want to become yoga teachers without having practiced for any significant amount of time.  Pandu emphasized the importance of a teacher being fundamentally sound.  .Teachers with no personal practice and little experience may end up hurting students.  This would give a bad name to a discipline which was already infamous.  At the time Mr. Iyengar was teaching, yoga was looked upon with a bit of trepidation.  The vast majority of people thought that it was circus tricks at best or black magic at worse.  Changing people’s perceptions was an uphill task.  And teachers at the time had to ensure that yoga as a practice shouldn’t be vilified.

 

On the nature of Guruji’s practice and teaching Pandu said Guruji was a hard task master.  Students attending his class would be sore for a week afterwards.  And as for his own practice, though he had a large family; he would never make any excuses.  He practiced daily.  Early morning he did pranayama.  In the evening he would practice inversions.  Pandu emphasized the importance of a daily practice.  He said that those who don’t practice daily shouldn’t teach.  He also mentioned that he’s noticed that when teachers start to gain popularity, the first thing out the window is their personal practice.  All RIMYI teachers are regular with their own practice.  Remember that once you lose a pose, it’s a struggle to get back to it.  A Chinese girl in the audience asked how to balance teaching and learning if your livelihood depends on teaching yoga.  Pandu thought for a moment and said that he would always recommend teach less and practice more.  Give preference to your own practice.  That’s what Guruji did.

 

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The secret behind the ubiquitous tilak.

 

In the early 50s (between 1953-1954) Guruji was asked to teach at NDA (National Defence Academy).  BKS Iyengar had to cycle for about 20 kms daily in order to get to class.  Because of that he developed hernia.  He treated hernia as his guru and allowed the condition to guide his practice in order to get rid of the condition.  I was interested in knowing a bit more about the NDA days and found out that classes are going on their even now.  When Guruji was no longer able to go he sent Pandu.  Eventually Pandu also passed on the responsibility.  Pandu remembers that the classes were for one and all, from the cadets to the officers.  I do wonder if anyone posted in NDA during those days would have any pictures from that time.

 

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Playing catch is exhausting.

The oldest running class at the institute is the women’s class (these days conducted by Gulnaz Dashti).  Pandu was asked why was there a separate class for the women.  In those days, was it to separate the sexes?  Pandu replied that in Pune during those days women would be free only once the husband and the children had been packed off for the day and the housework was finished.  This was typically between 9 am – 12 noon.  So it was actually the women of Pune who requested that a special class be conducted for them, and that class continues to this day.

 

Your body is your guru.  However, don’t do asanas when you ‘feel like it’.  Sequencing is very important, else you will definitely experience problems.  When Pandu and Prashant were practicing under Guruji, the practice was different every day.  Tuesdays they would practice only forward bends.  They would practice the Janu Sirsasana for 40-50 minutes at a time.  Prashant and Pandu used to do all the forward bends in the sequence.  Pandu also advised us not to do only the sirsasana and end the class.  He said it’s important to do the Sarvangasana and Halasana.  Also practice the Setubandha Sarvangasana.  As far as be the body is concerned, there is a lot of bending in the circus.  Ballet also has a lot of flexible bodies.  But what happens in these disciplines is that the spine suffers.

Someone in the audience asked Pandu about the asana sequence that is described at the end of the books.  Pandu said that the books were written many years ago and that many things have changed since then.  Props have also changed.  The ideas expressed in the books are a product of those times, and as time passed, the practice, ideas and philosophies evolved.

Pandu then told us a story about yoga.  He said a long time ago when someone would fall sick they were told to take sanjeevani (a medicine).  Then one day all the sanjeevani in the world finished and people went to God to ask for more.  God told people that He couldn’t give them sanjeevani but he can give them yoga vidya. God told people that with yoga they will be able to maintain their health.  However, the yoga vidya went to the rishi munis.  And unfortunately, the rishi munis weren’t easily accessible to the common people.  That’s when yoga teachers came into existence.  They bridged the gap and brought the knowledge of yoga from the rishi munis to the common people.  This is the tradition that Krishnamacharya and his disciples are a part of.  For centuries they have de mystified an esoteric practice.  They have brought it to the masses, but; emphasises Pandu; they have done it properly.

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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….)