Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Goats, rivers and bicycles - by Tori

As I was coming back from a shopping trip to the vegetable market early this morning, I noticed a goat with a tether hanging from his neck grazing at the car dealership at the chowk (traffic circle). Though this is not an unusual sight, for me it is still such a novelty, so I took his picture. A voice behind me said "It'll turn out much better when you're in the picture too!" I turned around to see our very own Lindsey Clennell and we exchanged smiles and hugs as we made our way back toward the Institute. It was so wonderful to see him there on the road.

Then, I went to Geeta's Wednesday morning Women's Class where we are practicing pranayama this week. As we sat in Swastikasana, she spoke of keeping the edges of the body aligned like the two banks of a river so the pranic energy can flow correctly and evenly. She talked about the tilts of the body and how they "bang" in different places - at the shoulders, ribs, pelvis, etc. Our job was to study where we were "banging" - like the ocean crashing onto the shore - how it bangs. She said to exist in the middle of the sea, and then one can even venture under the sea...

Last night in his Tuesday night class, Prashant compared learning pranayama to learning how to ride a bicycle. He took me right back to a memory of my father pushing me (no training wheels!!) from behind on our driveway over thirty years ago. He talked about how you sweat and perspire and need momentum in the beginning otherwise you "wobble" and you could easily tip over without that velocity. It is only when you have gotten first the momentum that the understanding and refinement can come and then you can practice "super slow-motion."All this he applied to the breath and the practice of pranayama, which he reminded us is not to build our lung capacity or manage stress (which of course it will, but that is a by-product), but to increase our wisdom per Patanjali's yoga sutras.

So many jewels to share with you...much more to come. Off to practice and then dinner with Lindsey.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tori Milner @ RIMYI - October 21,2008

I am in India for my third two-month stay in Pune studying with the Iyengar family. Apologies for taking so long to get something started. I think it’s taken me this three weeks to get my rhythm, which I why I always try to stay for a long time.

I am living on the second floor of a ten-story building right next door to RIMYI (Ramamani Memorial Iyengar Yoga Institute) and the Iyengar home. In fact, last night as we were getting in from dinner we saw Prashant Iyengar watching television next door. It is the natural course of events here to see and hear the Iyengars every day, not just when they are teaching – a concept that seemed so novel my first trip here and now seems so natural.

Change has come to Pune since I first visited in 2004. I’ve noticed many new things – new buildings, malls, stores, wireless internet, higher rents, higher tuition, more women and men wearing Western clothes such as jeans and t-shirts….evidence of recently stricken strong economic times. But so much is the same too….random power-outages, animals moving along with the flow of traffic on the road, off the chart horn-blowing, over-the-top festival celebrations – which now seem to include an endless array of fireworks. Life is good in Pune.

My roommates are Frances and Greg, from New Zealand and Canada respectively. And our landlord, Sanjeev, lives here in the apartment too. He is a local, who is very helpful to consult on a regular basis. We each have our own room and bathroom. There is a washing machine here in the apartment, but I still sometimes wash by hand in my plastic bucket.

I’ve been attending class every day with Geeta, except Tuesdays, which I have with Prashant. I have also been observing and lending a hand in “Medical” class, which is always an adventure.

This week is pranayama and we had our first class with Geetaji last night who asked us to gather all parts of our body under the same umbrella. Our spine was the stem of the umbrella and we were to study the tilts and where the energy is flowing and where it is not and collect everything together, she said, like a kindergarten teacher has to get all the children to do the same thing. It was lovely.

I went home and ate the sweetest pineapple for dinner.