March 5, 2012:
This week forty students from China have arrived at the Institute to be trained under the guidance of the Iyengars. The first class taught by Prashant was very interesting. The hall was packed, and a translator followed Prashant's steps while the students quietly followed the directions. Prashant was very patient and used several analogies to Buddha and Lao-Tze, establishing a warm welcoming feeling throughout the room. Following the class Pandu came in and held an informal orientation meeting. Meanwhile Guruji arrived and greeted them warmly. He then proceeded to his daily practice and teachings to Abhijata and a few lucky bodies.
In the evening Geeta came in and divided the group, having the old students on one side and the Chinese on the other. She also instructed the translator to sit next to her. She was very methodical as some of the students are raw beginners. It was basically a level 1 class, but with Geetaji being very demanding on all levels. One member of the Chinese group was wearing a Shiva T-shirt. Geeta kept calling him Shiva and making remarks such as you should not make the mistake of wearing Shiva's shirt. She was very amusing and very patient throughout the evening. She taught the action of Adho Mukha Upavista Konasana to one of them who was overly flexible (her chest was flat on the ground, but the legs were rolling in). An assistant had her hands on the back of the outer thighs to provide resistance, as the trunk extended forward to adho mukha upavista konasana.
March 7, 2012:
Today the women's class was taught by Abijhata alone as Guruji was in Mumbai to attend a celebration event on behalf of one of the old yoga schools. As in Geetaji's class, the class was tailored to level one, consisting of the standing postures being methodically taught and held. There was no sirsasana, only sarvangasana and setubandha on a bench for the special needs. In the end of sarvangasana some of them were complaining about neck pain and she promptly had them sitting in svastikasana, turning the head from right to the left and vice versa, followed by adho mukha svastikasana,and parivrtta svastikasana. She then asked: Is the pain gone? And most nodded yes. The teaching was excellent, sharp, precise, and clear with not too many words.
*There will be no personal practice on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the month as the hall will be used to train the Chinese group.
March 11, 2012:
Today is Sunday and as part of the ritual over the years, I observed the children's class. The auspicious surprise was when Geeta came in the beginning of it addressing corrections, basically taking over the teachings. The whole atmosphere was transformed, even the little ones were following the clear directions and were able to stand still with the full extension of the limbs in Tadasana, urdhva hastasana and several turns of adho mukha svanasana, and virabhadrasana 3.
Some highlights of it:
Urdhva Hastasana to Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana, arms in urdhva hastasana are straight and legs in urdhva prasaritta ekapadasana are straight. If the arms are not straight in Urdhva Hastasana, the leg will not go up. The whole body has to work. The arms are up and straight, the leg is up and straight. Do this 3 times with the same leg(motion) then change legs. Synchronize the action.
She commented: I NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD HAVE SO MUCH FEAR INSIDE. CHILDREN SHOULD NOT HAVE FEAR.
SOME OF YOU ARE NOT DOING WHAT THE TEACHER IS SAYING.
Virabhadrasana 3: From the arm pit the arms and elbows are straight. The arms in virabhadrasana 3 are like in urdhva hastasana, arms and elbows straight.
Why do you clinch your teeth? Don't do that.
Repeat Virabhadrasana 3.
Those who fell to straighten the arm pit, they lost their balance. The balance is related to the arm pit extension.
Tadasana: Chest forward and shoulders back. In Yoga you have to be strong. The shouders are back, and the chest is forward.
Repeat Virabhadrasana 3. Synchronize the actions, shoulders back,chest forward, hands forward, trunk forward, all have to synchronize.
There were not so much motion as usual, but a few basic asanas emphasizing the extension of the limbs and lift of the chest. The class ended at 9:00am and was followed by the senior students' bash ( some of them are to become teachers).
A few highlights of the senior class consisted of: adho mukha svanasana, uttitha hasta padangusthasna 1(holding the foot) and 3 with the instructions to become tall. The trunk and the lifted leg straight are synchronized. The buttocks are sharp and the chest is up. Followed by ubaia padangusthasana with the instruction of the back lift synchronizing with the abdominal grip, and the balance on the buttocks. Krounchasana with the femur into the socket and the back of the thighs opened. The lower back should not fall. Open the back of the knees and thighs so hamstrings will not break.
Twists ending in marichyasana IV, the heel of the padmasana foot are in line with the navel and the toes are sharp on the root of the thighs. Use a blanket under the marychiasana leg for the padmasna leg to go lower . For stiffness, from dandasana sit straight with both shoulders back and open first the padmasana leg to the side, turn the padmasana leg out (decentralize it). This goes for arkana dhanurasana the knee and thigh have to go back. Followed by Kapilasana(bolster for the back), yoga nidrasana, and ending in supta padangusthasana.
March 12, 2012:
Women's class conducted by Abijatha under the guidance of Guruji. The standing postures being emphasized and taught methodically.
As there was no personal practice, just a few of us teachers and a couple of senior teachers were there. We all witnessed the fascinating class being guided by Guruji. In the end we helped with a few adjustments in sirsasana and setting up the special need group for bench setubandha.
March 14, 2012:
Women's class with the Chinese group class taught by Raia via Guruji.
The westerners moved to the Patanjali's side and Chinese by the props so Guruji could address the corrections.
March 16, 2012: Geetaji's Class
The entire class was devoted to how to use the ropes in their proper sequence. Geeta methodically introduced the various stages from rope 1, building to subsequent, more advanced stages. Because the restrictions of the ropes and the large group, we spend the entire class learning the ropes. We finished in brick setubandha.
March 17, 2012:
Class taught by Abijatha through Guruji. Revision from the previous classes
The sequence consisted of standing postures, twists, followed by sirsasana. In sirsasana, Guruji corrected several times the action of interlocking the fingers. Guruji says that the thumbs do not cross, that is for old people, also he told everyone to bring the legs away from the wall and attempt the balance. After that a sequence of back extension urdhva mukha svanasana,salabasana, dhanurasana, ustrasana, and urdhva dhanurasana on a setubandha bench with a bolster and 2 people sharing the bench. The bolster was used to give a horizontal support for middle of the back (not pelvis).
Sarvangasana with 4 mats, followed by uttanasana and supported paschimottanasana (sited on the sarvangasana mats). End of the class.
March 18, 2012: q/a from the Chinese to Guruji only. This has been video by Jay. In the evening there was the monthly lecture on the Bhagavad-Gita chapter 13 conducted by Geeta.
March 19, 2012: Class conducted by Abijatha and Guruji.
March 21, 2012: Class conducted by Abijatha and Guruji
March 22, 2012: Geeta's pranayama. The class consited of unsupported savasana, ujjayi, viloma, and gentle antara/bahya kumbhaka. Throughout the class there were long interruptions with a masterful teaching on how to see the subtle imbalances and choosing a couple of the students to correct. How to observe and break old habits such as the habitual way to cross the legs, and positioning the feet. She emphasized the importance to learn the asanas before pranayama to understand the gross alignment before addressing the subtle alignment of both sides and their correspondent nadhis(ida and pingala). She then had a brief q/a from the group.
March 23, 2012: Today is a celebration of Gudi Padva to mark the Marathi New Year in India. The New Year is celebrated only in the Maharashtra region. The institute is closed but there will be a celebration and an award for Guruji on behalf of his overall contribution to humanity. The event will take place at 5pm by the Aditya Pratishthan. Although most of the evening was spoken in marathi, Guruji eloquently spoke in English, giving us a taste of his life in Pune, and the depth of his system based on the embodiment of Patanjali Yoga Sutras. This has been filmed and hopefully will be shown.
It has been an auspicious experience to be part of this schedule and valuable learning being passed from the generations. It seems that a new generation is following the natural order of evolution, yet maintaining the roots and essence of the tradition as transmitted from Guruji. To be under his fiery teachings has been pure bliss and blessings.