Day 30 - Prachi Pranayama

Penultimate day and I woke up with a big to-do list buzzing around my head. It was strangely quiet all around, partly because I’m now alone in the apartment and partly a lack of the usual shenanigans outside. Didn’t make the slightest difference though, I still awoke very early and realised that adjusting to UK time will be fun as I’m now waking up at exactly the time I usually go to bed. My evening classes next week should be interesting, apologies in advance if I nod off! I enjoyed a spacious backbend practice, followed by my Diabetes programme, both of which are very energising. It was wonderful to have Sushila’s home cooking after a weekend of eating out at restaurants in Goa. After a sw

Day 29 - Gulnaz Restorative

My last morning in Goa and I was awoken once again pre-dawn by someone cycling down the street honking their horn loudly and continuously (same every morning). I’m told he is delivering bread and milk – but honestly, if someone behaved that anti-socially back home they have an ASBO or something. Can’t I decide for myself when it’s the right time to wake up?? How does one person get the right to decide that everyone else in the town should be getting up? Grrrh – I’ve given up on sleeping, will have to save that idea for when I get back to UK. Still there’s nothing like a dip in the ocean to wash away early morning grumpiness. I cycled down to the beach to discover that the usual morning calm

Day 27 - Abhi -Pranayama

In years gone by when I have been here in January, the institute has always closed on the Saturday for Republic Day. On the strength of this, I booked a weekend in Goa and had already paid for my flights and accommodation when the notices went up to say that this year the institute would be closed on the Friday only. How annoying. So a bit resentfully, I headed off to the airport on Friday morning, sooooo sorry to be missing a Saturday class.  Still it’s a good chance to replenish my batteries for the coming hard slog as well as check out potential teaching venues and visit my dear friends and teachers from the UK, Gerry and Lynda. The flight from Pune to Goa is a mere 40 minutes (and having

Day 25 - Raya

A very sociable last day for Jenny (I’m here till next Wednesday). We had Annie and Cleo over for lunch and it was really nice to chew over our varying experiences of the month here and make plans for coming back again. We set off to Raya’s class with a little trepidation as the last two weeks have been mega-challenging.  This week the class was also very challenging, but at an attainable level for me, so I really thrived on it. A whole month of Pune has made me feel strong and capable and I wish I could hold onto that feeling for ever! After class we joined Cleo and Kari-Ann for dinner at the Ambience Hotel and sampled  a very non-Indian avocado and feta salad. Yum. Relatively expensive mea

Day 24 - Women's Class Abhijata

I’m having a little trouble controlling my Diabetes at the moment. The blood sugar should be kept constantly at a level of between 4 and 7 mmol. Any lower and you have an attack of hypoglaecemia (weakness, shakiness and if not treated with some sugar to bring the level up – coma) and levels higher than this mean little in the way of immediate side effects (thirst, frequent urination, increased infections) but long term high blood sugars  are what really causes the serious problems –  peripheral nerve damage causing loss of sensation and blindness, gangrene, heart disease, kidney failure etc and as with hypoglaecemia, ultimately if the high blood sugar is left untreated coma and death. So las

Day 23 - Rajalaxmi Dog Pose, Dog Pose and more Dog Pose

Long practice in the morning and was interrupted by the doorbell. As I went to answer it, thinking it was Jenny, I got a push from Sushila, tapping me sharply (not unkindly) on the shoulder to tell me it was NOT acceptable to answer the door to a gentleman caller with my shoulders exposed in a vest top. It turned out it was Vasant, who I politely sent away as I was mid practice and not interested in buying anything. At 7.30am UK time I had a snapchat from daughter telling me she was ill and off school for the second day so had a sympathy video call to send some motherly love her way. Once lunch was over I hot footed it over to Shalgar in the hope of finding a saree for my daughter, but no j

Day 22 - Rajalaxmi Drop Backs

I was woken up very early by our neighbours – the building has bathroom windows that open out close to each other and it’s amazing how the sound travels from one apartment into another this way. This meant I only got 5 hours sleep, but on the plus side it meant I got an early start on my practice. I thought I’d keep working on the dropping back from tadasana to urdhva dhanurasana – it’s only going to come by consistent practice. My spine is pretty flexible, but I think maybe it’s a lack of flexibility in the lower leg and knee that’s the problem. When you see people independently dropping back, they usually bend the legs a lot and bring the knees a long way forward to balance the weight of t

Day 21 Annual Day Celebration and Ganesha's Birthday!

The 43rd Annual Day celebrations kicked off at 10am. There was a showcase of music, singing and dance as well as a discourse from Rajiv on the mysticism of time and space. I arrived a little late as I couldn't bear to miss my morning practice, I know some people can do without it - even Guruji would take a day of rest on a Sunday - but I feel truly appalling without it, so it has to be pretty life or death for me to skip it. When I arrived the practice hall was packed, I crept along the back looking for a place to squeeze in and noticed with a smile that Prasant was snoozing in his chair. After the show was finished there was a huge shared lunch for all attendees. A beautiful celebration. An

Day 20 Navaz Women's Class

Just to keep us on our toes, we had a totally unexpected class from Navaz this morning. Navaz doesn't look as if she's going to be the world's best yoga teacher and yet everyone I saw and spoke to really enjoyed the class. She was totally able to hold her own, in what surely must have been a slightly intimidating class to teach - jam packed full of teachers both foreign and local - but I genuinely don't think anything would ruffle her feathers. Firm but kind, calm, steady and clear and plenty of stories to tell about Guruji. When we were in Sarvangasana she talked about the old days, before Guruji was able to afford props, how they used to each bring a single blanket from home for their Sarv

Day 19 - Navaz Pranayama

Ended up going to bed super late as my ten year old daughter had had a row with her sister who was minding her and suddenly realised she was missing me terribly. She’s usually pretty nonchalant about my comings and goings so I really wanted to be able to comfort her. Modern technology is an amazing thing – I sat writing my blog, while she sat eating her supper and we were able to keep each other company until the low mood had passed. She put me on top of the cooker so that I could talk her through making some dessert and it was almost like being there! So lights out was after 1am and then there was a very noisy, screamy row going on until 3am, either in my building or in the alley way outsid

Day 18 - Surprise!

We had been invited to another extra session at a local hall along with the Russian intensive today. Jenny had to stay home as she is recovering from a chest infection. The hall was busy – it’s a large rectangular space which lends itself well to this type of extra large class. We weren’t entirely sure who was going to be teaching us but I was expecting Abhi, as she is the one taking the Russian intensive.  In fact it was Raya who entered the room and said simply “Turn your mats to the front, there has been a change of plan” and there was a collective gasp as Geetaji arrived in the hall to take the class. And my, was she in fine fettle today!  She came in twinkling and smiling to continuous

Day 17 - Abhijata Backbends

Woke up feeling yoga-licious , yesterday’s classes making their mark on all the systems of my body. Backbends and inversions this morning with Abhi. She continued the theme from yesterday, focussing on the strength and cohesion in the legs.  We spent 15- 20 minutes in sirsasana on 4 different attempts, three at the beginning of the class and one close to the end, so that we could experience the effect of the drop backs on the back body (and also the amazing strength and extension of the legs, not to mention buttocks of steel!). She allowed us to sample the sirsasana she had shown up on stage yesterday with Geetaji, using the brick between the thighs and belt around the shins (since we didn’t

Day 16 Geetaji and Rajalaxmi

Woke up this morning bright and early and got a rickshaw to a nearby hall where Geetaji was due to teach at 9.30am. We arrived in good time a little after 9 but there were already many there before us. We were politely asked to move back so that the Russians could be at the front (it was their intensive we had cordially invited along to after all). Geetaji entered the room with her walker to rapturous applause and I saw more than a few wipe a tear from their eyes (much later we were wiping tears of a different sort!!). When the applause finally subsided she began her talk by explaining the reasons why she has ended up with such difficulty in walking, in case we should think that we may end u

Day 15 Rajalaxmi Twists

Sleep quality deteriorating as we have cats that live on the tin roof just outside my window and I think they may be possessed – the noise they make in the night is like nothing I have ever heard before. It’s more human than cat - genuinely, how can something so small, make such an unbelievably big and intensely disturbing sound? Jenny managed to get a second video of the chiildren’s classes yesterday and this time they were learning how to fall safely out of sirsasana . They had to turn the hands away (this undid the interlock), tuck the head under and forward roll. Looked like fun but haven’t tried it yet. In the evening we headed over to our favourite restaurant Shabree, on the super-busy

Day 13 Women's Class Abhijata

I woke up a little full of worry and woe and as I walked to class had the feeling that it may take a minor miracle to lift my heavy heart – sometimes when I’m in that state I seriously doubt that yoga will be able to help and yet it always does. It was a brilliant class this morning although it started off a little chaotically as Abhi fired instructions at us like a machine gun and I felt that we were a little like a panicked herd of cattle, wild eyed as we all tried to work out the best course of action. We launched straight into sirsasana, parsva sirasana and parivrtta eka pada sirsasana. She asked us if we had previously been shown the use of the wall for parivrtta eka pada sirsasana and

Day 12 Navaz Pranayama

Woke up in great spirits and enjoyed some singing while getting ready for the day. Last day of restricted practice and my energy is beginning to pick up. I often find I practice pranayama more naturally and spontaneously during resting poses such as setu bandha with a bolster and I spent a long time quietly there. Sushila arrived today looking pale and tired and explained she had a headache yesterday and had had to see the Doctor for an injection (She speaks no English and we have very little Marathi so this was all mimed). It was obvious to see that she was not herself and we made sure to give her a little money to buy medicine which she tried to refuse so we had to say it was baksheesh (t

Day 11 - Raya Jumping and Hand Balances

A bit of a late night last night, as I booked flights and accommodation to go down to Goa for the weekend towards the end of the month when the Institute is closed. Exciting. Played around with some of the work Abhi gave in class yesterday during my own practice. Jenny has got a stinking cold so is laying low and decided not to go to class this eve. Shrewd move as it would probably have killed her. Possibly the only time in history when I have been a little relieved to be ‘off games’. Now I love the unpredictability and speed of a jumping class and I especially enjoy the playful mental challenge of responding to a command to jump into an obscure or unexpected pose, where your mind has to w

Day 10 - Women's Class Abhijta

Happy Days – Women’s class on Wednesday mornings.  I would love to be able to tell you that I greeted having to be in ‘ladies corner’ with a dignified sense of complete equanimity. However this would not be true – it felt like having my nose pressed against the window of the world’s greatest party, but not being allowed to join in with the fun. Abhijata’s classes truly are a celebration of excellence in Iyengar Yoga. We sailed a little close to the wind, only just arriving in time for the class to start and I ended up taking the only remaining space in the room, in the men’s enclave, exactly the wrong place for me to be. I peered over at menstruating ladies area and saw a lone clueless male

Day 9 - Rajalaxmi Twists

Slept deeply and soundly last night and woke up feeling rested. Jenny had got up early to go to Prasant, so I had the flat to myself to play some music with my phone and bluetooth speaker. Nice cheery start to the day. Every year my lovely niece records a song to send out instead of a Christmas card which is getting gradually more sophisticated each year as she now approaches her teens. This year she recorded a hauntingly beautiful version of Hallelujah which I have witnessed making grown men cry, so I was wiping a tear from my eye when Jenny got back. Class this evening was taught by Rajalaxmi. I won't say much as I've posted the full sequence below. When we arrived for class I noticed the

Day 8 Gulnaz Forward Bends

First proper night's sleep since arriving in India a week ago. Hurrah! As I was writing the blog last night I started to feel super hot and then really chilly and weak. There are quite a few people here with a bad flu type illness (very likely the Aussie flu that's all over the news). Two of the three people in the flat upstairs have it, as well as poor Kari Ann and none of them can even contemplate getting to classes. It would be disastrous to get it and so I resolved to practice the sequence Guruji gave during the last serious flu epidemic, when things had got so bad that they started banning any uneccesary gathering of people, in an attempt to stop it's progress. I've attached the sequenc

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