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yogi in pune

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 Yoga

A Yogi in Pune – Day 16

September 16, 2016

I’ve practiced more in these 16 days than I ever have in my life.  In Mysore practice used to be for an hour and a half.  That was for 15 days.  During my teachers’ training at SVYASA we used to have practice for up to 2 – 3 hours a day.  Here we practice for up to 5 hours a day.  Some students even opt to observe classes, so that’s more yoga during the day.  It is intense, it is powerful, detailed, thorough and it’s amazing (I may already have mentioned that before.)    In the past 2 weeks I’ve had time to really work on my asanas.  I’ve also had a chance to see the practice in a different way.  To kind of lift the asana lid and peer into the pot to find the importance and relevance of yoga in our lives.  My own steadily improving practice and watching all kinds of people practice day in and day out.  Doing the Trikonasana (and other asanas) over and over again drives home a few important lessons.

  1.  Practice makes perfect.  But nobody’s perfect.  So perfection is a process and practice is the means to it.  In the age of beautiful Instagram filters, it is difficult to believe that even the jaw dropping and awe inspiring pose has scope for improvement.  There is scope of improvement in everything.  Your projects are a work in progress.  Your relationships are a work in progress….your life is a work in progress.  You are a work in progress!  So accept your mistakes.  Internalize the lessons they teach you and don’t make them again.  Remember, a mistake made over and over again is a habit.
  2. Spend a lot of time on your fundamentals.  Here we have practitioners of all levels.  However, what we practice day in and day out (yes for 5 hours daily) are the fundamentals.  Trikonasana, Uttanasana, Downward dog etc.  The other day the entire 2 hour class was about Uttanasana.  That is all we did during the entire class.  In fact, I’ve heard Abhijata say that your inversions will never be stable unless your standing poses are stable.  Next time you find yourself fumbling in a pose, try and analyse why and what you can do to make the pose better.  And next time you find yourself getting impatient or bored of the fundamentals, remember there’s always scope for improvement.
  3. Cultivate discipline.Be strict with yourself because when it comes to your body no one else will be.  Make the time to move your body, however inconvenient it may be.  Make the time to cultivate a hobby which requires you to move.  Enjoy the process of movement and getting in touch with yourself.  The tragedy of our times is that people will set reminders on their phones to take the medicines they have now become dependent on, but they won’t throw back the covers and go for a quick jog.  Every little bit matters, but you need discipline.  To start and to stay on track.

[Above: Healthy food choices always.  Remember my 80/20 rule.]

Lifestyle Travel Uncategorized

Stop Drawing in the Clouds

September 15, 2016

When I was living in Sanaa, Yemen my parents decided that we should go to school during the summer holidays as well.  Both my parents were working and three kids can be quite a handful.  So they spoke to the principal of the school run by the Indian Embassy there, and we were packed off to what would become summer school for us.

There was a boy in my class during the time, who was from Russia.  He didn’t speak English very well and couldn’t read or write it very well either.  The English teacher was supportive but it is difficult to teach someone a language when you have no common language to communicate in.  The thing that I remember about this boy is that he was a talented artist.  Perhaps he’s a cartoonist or an illustrator or a graphic designer now.  Back then he was amazing at art.  Unfortunately, we grew up at a time when if you were good at Math and Science, you were smart…and nothing else really drew much appreciation.

One day we were given an assignment during English class and we were all furiously working on the assignment.  All of us.  At the end of the class the teacher was curious to know how the Russian student had done.  He handed her his notebook and we all registered her stunned expression.  She looked up and showed us his notebook.  While the rest of us were working on our assignment, he was busy copying the cover page of the book.  I forget what was on the cover, but I remember there were clouds and the name of the book was written over the clouds.

“See he’s drawn the English, he doesn’t even realize it,” said the teacher.  “He thinks it’s a part of the picture.  He doesn’t know what he’s drawn.”

I find a lot of that happening in yoga class.  After 15 days here, at ‘the source’, I’ve started to feel like 95% of yoga studios/teachers/students in Bangalore have skewed focus.  I see it in classes too.  Students are in awe of other students and teachers who can go upside down or do other fancy things….and somewhere the focus shifts.  The acrobats develop a comfort zone in which they preen and prance while the rest of us aspire to gain entry into that comfort zone.  In any yoga class, you will see all the students practicing the basic asanas with concentration and focus.  As the asanas get more challenging the students grumble and groan but still focus on the posture and working with their bodies.  And finally, for the ‘advanced’ poses you will see most students gazing admiringly and enviously at the few who are able to do the poses.

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At any point in time, when your attention is no longer on what is going on within you, then the practice ceases to be yoga.  I keep on saying that yoga is not about the postures, yoga is about life.  All of us have different lives, and so our relationship with yoga will also be unique and personal.  What is going on in your body when you do the Uttanasana will be based upon your lifestyle, life choices, mental and emotional states.  These factors will be different for your classmates and so their Uttanasana will be different.  What I see in students is the desire to do the Uttanasana that their neighbor is doing.  And those who are able to execute what they think is the ‘perfect’ Uttanasana stop working in the asana.  Teachers too, focus more on how far down you can go rather than on how you can work your body optimally to execute the best Uttanasana you can given your mental and physical state at that given point in time.

The result of this style of teaching and learning is that we are missing the point.  Movement in yoga classes is becoming mechanical and mindless.  We’re missing the bullseye….in fact we’re not even aiming for bullseye.  We are confusing asanas for acrobatics and vice versa.  Every time someone else does kapotasana and we can’t, we’re lose a bit of ourselves.  And going farther away from ourselves, which is opposite to what yoga aims to do.  Remember, yoga means to join or to yoke together, and if you are focusing on the getting your leg behind your head, you’re not appreciating the feeling of expansion in your hips.

Stop drawing alphabets in the clouds, learn to read the words.

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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

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.
Lifestyle Uncategorized

A Yogi in Pune – Day 4

September 4, 2016

Since Pune doesn’t shut down by 11, last night I was able to do something that I haven’t time and inclination to do for a while now – club hopping.  Since I’m here only for 4 weekends, Anuja wanted to give me a wholesome flavor of the Pune nightlife.  A simple relaxed sit down dinner morphed into something completely different.

Our first stop was The Foundry Club which has a Church Street Social kinda vibe.  So lots of techies and beer.  Food was awesome!

Next we went to a club called Euriska.  Neon interiors and teeny boppers bobbing up and down on the dance floor.

Finally we ended up at Stonewater where the crowd was pretty much the same.  Once in a while, when you’ve been through what seems like days and days of back breaking yoga practice, you just nee to let your hair down like this.

 

When I woke up this morning I realized that I had the entire Sunday to myself to do what I pleased.  I have the entire city to explore, I have a bunch of friends to meet…however, I reached for my book and slid back under the covers.  After more months than I care to remember I started my day lost in a book and Skyping with a friend who also spends time lost in books.  Come to think of it, even if I wanted to go out, I think  what I really wanted to do was rest as much as I can on my very first ‘rest day.’  I’m going to slide under the covers again with a movie…or maybe a book.  After all, it’s my rest day and the possibilities are limitless.

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

A Yogi in Pune – Day 1

September 1, 2016

The first day is always a day of exploration and learning.

My first class was on the second floor and we went through the standing asanas.  However, because it was the Intermediate class we were expected to know how to do the Sirsasana, Halasana and Sarvangasana.  In my class in Bangalore we did the Sarvangasana and Halasana with the help of chairs, however, here the only props we used were thick mats under our shoulders.

Post the class we had a break of 30 minutes after which the hall on the first floor was free for self practice.  During this time we are allowed the use of the hall and all the props to further our practice.  Since I wasn’t sure of what to expect, I decided to repeat what we had done in the led class and take my time with the asanas.  Since I’m working on my Hanumanasana, I built up to that as well.  Unfortunately, by this time (after almost 4 hours of practice) I was completely depleted of energy and didn’t give the practice my 100%.  However, tomorrow my self practice and led class have a gap, so I think I’ll be able to use my time much more judiciously tomorrow.

Once I got home I searched for a good spot for wifi reception.  The flora and fauna and the monsoons ensure the wifi signal is weak.  However, good karma came to my rescue and my sister’s friend (who lives in the house next door)n offered me her wifi and the use of this space:

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She happens to be a designer with a flair for interiors and this is her office.  So for the entire month, this is what my workstation looks like. My desk is right next to hers, so I’ve got good company too.  And hot homemade soup in the evenings (today it’s pumpkin soup).  I I will be designing plans and blogging from here.

As for my pratice schedule, here it is for your reference:

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Travel Uncategorized

A Yogi in Pune (The Day Of and the Night Before)

August 31, 2016

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Unfortunately my allergies have flared up.  Leaving your house can be a messy affair for a homebody like me.  I think of my house in my absence and I simply can’t tolerate the thought of a messy house left to it’s own devices.  I need my house to be spic and span in my absence so that a thin film of dust is all I really have to deal with on my return.  So for the past two weeks I’ve been cleaning along with packing and my nose has paid the price dearly.  However, I managed to clear the table tops and the counters and ensure that things were in their rightful places before I went to sleep last night.  And once settled in comfortably I Skyped late into the night with a friend of mine, excitedly catching up on all the old and what it feels like to be on the brink of the new.

I woke up early today and did a quick practice after which I showered and drove myself to a friend’s place to entrust him with the care of my car for the next few weeks, and to partake of whatever breakfast he could offer an excited yogi just about to embark on a great adventure.  I still remember that the last time I came back after a long trip, the battery of my car fought a slow death leaving me stranded many a time.  This time I wasn’t going to take chances, specially not with breakfast.

I managed to catch a few minutes of sleep on the plane before we landed, but airplane don’t really count by way of making you feel rested.  The opposite, yes.  I deplaned to find out that there was a transportation strike in Pune and therefore couldn’t get a pre-paid taxi to my accommodation.  Ola shared cab to the rescue.

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My accommodation is a room nestled in a culvert near RIMYI.  I have a clean, freshly painted room all to myself.  The kitchen is easily accessible and I spent a little while getting to know my hostess over a mug of (much needed) hot green tea.  Turns out that the house is situated on Sudheer Pawar Path, and Sudheer Pawar was my hostess’s uncle!  He was an officer of the Indian Air Force who crash landed due to a malfunctioning airplane and the government named the road in his honor.  Add a bit of history to anything, and you increase my wonder for it manifold.

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My hostess was kind enough to provide me some paranthas for lunch and after a quick rest I decided to go exploring.  My hostess gave me clear and concise directions and I reached the institute in no time.  The evening timings of the institute are 4-6 pm and I was a bit early.  I made enquiries with the guard who told me that I should come at 4 and not to worry as there won’t be much of a crowd.  I remembered the mad rush at KPJAYI and wanted to make sure.  Finally he told me that there is only one day of the year when there is a rush (I forget which one) and after that since there are no new admissions, there is no rush.  I did notice that there was a board on the gate which said that the admissions are closed until May 2017.  And here’s where I felt grateful that I had somehow beat the queues.

I decided to explore a bit more and wandered a bit further down the road where a random lady walking next to me started lamenting about the transport strike.  And she didn’t trust 20160831_170644.jpgOla.  Not sure what she was planning to do.  I bought myself a toothbrush, toothpaste and a coffee and answered some messages until it was time to head to the institute.

I decided to ask for the legendary Mr. Pandurang Rao at the institute and see if I could register today, since I was already there, instead of having to wait until tomorrow.  I know these guys are sticklers for rules and I wasn’t sure I would be entertained.  However, I was!  Mr. Rao handed me the registration form and once I’d filled it out he drew up my schedule on a pink post it…only to ask me once again how long I’ve been practicing and then relapsed into deep thought.  Then he decided to make a phone call and spoke to the person on the other end about ‘the student from Bangalore’.  The conversation was in Marathi, so even though I heard it all, I couldn’t understand it.  He came back and asked me ‘Can you do the Sirsasana?’  I said yes and he then took a while to figure out whether to put me in the Intermediate or the Senior class.  Finally, the Intermediate it is and I have to report to the Ist floor tomorrow morning at 7 am.

My hostess is taking us all out for dinner tonight, so I get to meet some of my housemates as well!

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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.