31st October - Geetaji Pranayama

I had the strangest experience this morning, when walking through the park to get the daily veg. As I walked in, every single person was frozen stock-still, some mid stride. It was most peculiar and I was completely unsure what to do. As I dithered, an unspoken signal seemed to pass around the park and everyone started moving again, as if nothing happened. So strange! I asked the fruit seller what was going on and he just looked at me like I was crazy and had no idea what I was talking about. I am wondering whether this had been organised in solidarity with those protesting the murder of Kashoggi. At the time I wondered if I should have taken a photo and then realised that it would have loo

29th October - Rajalaxmi Backbends (again!!) and Pranayama

Had a super day off, mock exam in the morning (did we ever spend Sunday morning's doing anything else?) followed by Marriott in the afternoon - last few days in the sunshine, it would be rude not to! Feeling relaxed and quietly excited about going home. Lots to do in last couple of days, had the obligatory trip to the incense shop and trial pack and weigh to see what equipment I can bring home. You can buy very reasonably priced slanting planks (600 rupees each made from wood) from Dimpex Batik so I am taking a full set home, along with chumbals, 3 bolsters, knee rods etc etc - you get the picture - 2 very full suitcases, thanks to Jet Airways generous baggage allowance (2 x 23kg on economy

27th October - Geetaji Pranayama

Our penultimate women's class and it was inspirational. From the very start, Geeta taught with clarity, depth and beauty. As we sat for the invocation we adjusted our bodies very precisely in order to lengthen and align the throat "Find out what is the well at the base of the throat. Find out what is the space there, how it goes on and on. Stay there and experience it" then we chanted and it was the most beautiful chanting I have ever experienced, as it emanated from this great space. Truly a beautiful moment. She was in great form today, eyes sparkling and completely engaged with her teaching. After the sarvangasana she taught a strong urdhva mukha paschimottonasana . Here she used her voic

26th October - Navaz Pranayama

Pah! and Meh! Will be out of action this week in 'Ladies Corner' which rather puts a spanner in the works for keeping up momentum of exam practice. So a much briefer practice this morning, quiet forward bends, head supported and supine chest opening. Ho hum, has its compensations I suppose. After lunch we headed off to the silver shop, but didn't really find what I was looking for. Finished off with watermelon juice and kulfi on top floor of Central Mall, which has a lovely view of the treetops in the Agricultural College grounds. Today Navaz's class focussed on digital anuloma pranayama, revising last week's work and moving on a stage further. She displayed a little of Geetaji's hawk eye ca

25th October - Raya Pranayama (well sort of!)

Sarah got up early for Prasant so I had a very quiet and peaceful morning of solitude to practice and reflect. I felt the strength and presence come back into my practice today after a month of inexplicable weakness - a great sense of relief to be back in my body. As I was coming back from morning trip to buy fruit and veg, I bumped into Nina, who invited Sarah and I to lunch along with Jenny and Wendy from London - we had a completely delicious meal and an enjoyable distraction from the daily routine. We are the very last guests that will stay with Nina and Manu as they have sold the house and are expecting to move to another part of town next month - the end of an era after so many years o

24th October - Geetaji Backbends

Here is a (fuzzy) photo of our lovely singing ladies in the park. They seem to be there each evening at dusk, usually holding hands and singing together, smiling warmly at anyone who catches their eye. I was too hot and weary to get to Rajalaxmi's Tuesday evening class, so we took a pot of tea to the park instead and then headed home for a much needed restorative practice. It was a relief to be back in the practice hall at RIMYI this morning and we wondered whether we would have Abhi or Geetaji and whether backbend week would have finished - it feels like we have been doing backbends forever! As it turned out, Geeta taught the class and Abhi and Raya attended, though they were given their ow

22nd October - Rajalaxmi Backbends

Had our fourth mock exam on Sunday morning and am feeling a little calmer and more in control each time. Rewarded ourselves with a trip to Laxmi Road market which was crazy busy, noisy and hectic. Somehow in all the chaos we managed to emerge with all the bits we wanted to find and headed out for a lovely thali at Shabree with Lydia to round off the weekend. Lovely morning routine here - cup of tea on the terrace watching the chipmunk squirrel that tweets like a bird, scramble around the branches of our bottle brush tree and then a walk across the park in the sunshine to get the days fresh fruit and veg from the barrow - 2 big bags of delicious produce for less than the cost of one item back

20th October - Geetaji Backbends

Today was the final day of the Bulgarian / South African intensive. When we first arrived in the hall, we caught the tail end of a question and answer session with Abhi and the intensive group. One student asked about the change in teacher training arrangements. Abhi explained that Guruji did not want teachers to be mechanically churned out in large groups. Each teacher trainee has a different make up – one may be physically strong, another may be mentally weak – how is the teacher trainer going to properly develop both of those students in a large group setting? There is so much that can only be passed on properly in a Guru / Shisya relationship. Teacher training courses can teach the mecha

19th October - Navaz Pranayama

We've had an absolutely lovely couple of days in Panchagani which is a green hill station located a 2.5 hour drive away from Pune. We'd hired a car and driver from Roots and Wings and got into the air conditioned interior with a great sigh of relief, to be out of the sticky, uncomfortable heat of the day. As we steadily climbed up and up, we gradually changed from air con to at one point, actually needing the heater on! We stayed at the slightly quirky Mount View Executive Hotel, which has a swimming pool and (as the name suggests) a beautiful view of the hillside and valley below. Highlight of the trip was Kate's Point, which had a mind-bogglingly vast and open vista that none of our photog

16th October - Rajalaxmi Backbends

A quiet day after yesterday's over exertions, was mainly only fit for restorative practice. I was relieved to find that Rajalaxmi was in slightly disorganised form, as it meant the class wasn't too intense, with plenty of moments for respite. It's an intermediate 1 class for those just moving on from beginners and the vast majority are local students, that are always entertaining to share class with. They particularly "enjoyed" the virasana with toes up on the bolster and a strong opening of the front ankle to the floor and Rajalaxmi did her favourite trick of announcing the "last one" at least about 4 times so that there was plenty of groaning. Tomorrow women's class will be a shared one at

15th October - Rajalaxmi Backbends and Elbows!

Had our 2nd mock exam yesterday and it went a little better than the first. Came away feeling extremely determined to practice, practice, practice this week and master the poses that are still eluding me. Woke up this morning all fired up ready to go and went for my weakest poses. Urdhva Mukha Paschimottonasana, Supta Kurmasana, Eka Pada Sirsasana and dropping back to Setu Bandha straight legs from Sarvangasana. After 4.5 hours I felt I'd made some real progress and my internal conscience was satisfied (that Geetaji comment will stay with me forever!) Enjoyed a superb lunch, courtesy of the cook here on the terrace and enjoyed identifying all the beautiful birds that share the space up in th

13th October - Geetaji

When we arrived at the venue for the intensive, the hall was packed for Prasant's 7am class. When Geetaji arrived she was not best impressed that the intensive had been organised in such a way as to have two classes pretty much back to back. She began by questioning everyone about what had already been taught by Prasant, so that she could follow on accordingly. It was only those attending the intensive that had done Prasant, so we were beginning from an uneven starting point. She began with asanas for recovery for those that were tired from already having done a 2 hour session. It was quintessentially Geetaji - with plenty of calling people up onto the stage to have their poses improved and

12th October - Navaz Pranayama

Back to full fitness today, woke up feeling deliciously yogically infused by yesterday's work. Had a really thorough practice and headed over to Dorabjee's to replenish our stocks of pulses and nuts. When we got into the Uber it was icy cool, a welcome relief from the oppressive heat of the day. Sarah sat in the front of the car next to the very young man who was driving and said "HOT!" to which he bashfully replied "Thank you!!" while I snickered in the back. Pranayama with Navaz this evening and Sarah and I got called up onto the platform as a result of asking a question after last week's class about the concavity of the lower back she had taught. She had taken our question to Geetaji who

October 11th - Raya Eka Pada Sirsasana and Hand Balances

Woke up feeling as weak as a kitten, but no other symptoms - no temperature, no stomach problems, no headache and no aches and pains - so proceeded with a very careful restorative practice. Eventually feeling confident enough to run through my much more active Diabetes programme. Always a dilemma - this practice is strenuous and stimulating so not ideal when you're trying to support your immune system to fight something off, but at the same time referring back to what Geetaji said yesterday - there is a blockage in my energy, whole back body and spine turns to sludge when I haven't done this work, so I feel much, much worse when I haven't done it. Slept again afterwards (daytime napping is a

October 10th - Geetaji

This morning normal classes at the institute were suspended and instead we joined students from Bulgaria and South Africa who are visiting for a 2 week intensive at a nearby venue, about a 20 minute walk away (though we jumped in a rickshaw, as energy in this heat is easily sapped). Notes below filtered by my memory and understanding. The class was taught by Geetaji, assisted by Abhi and Raya with a host of other RIMYI teachers available to help. Geetaji entered the room to applause and took the stage with a helping hand from Abhi. She humbly said that she was not sure it would be a ‘special’ class but that she would teach what she could to help. She explained that she is not in good health

October 9th - Rajalaxmi Twists

Well today was a complete wash-out practice wise. Went to bed far too late to contemplate getting up for Prasant, so left Sarah a note to go ahead without me, but still only ended up with about 5 hours sleep. Got up cranky and tired and although practice started well, gave up on it after a couple of hours, before I'd really got to the crucial parts and for once enjoyed a shared meal at a 'normal' time. Gotta take a day off sometimes, right? Sarah had a hankering to go to the University Botanical Gardens, but I still felt too shattered to take on any extra missions so I declined. My mistake! spent the afternoon, having hilarious arguments as Sarah played devil's advocate to drum up a bit of i

October 8th - Rajalaxmi Forward Bends

Had a really pleasant "day off" starting with a mock exam out on the rooftop terrace with Wendy calling out poses and keeping timings - which was excruciating, but a little better than last time. It took 2.5 hours to get through, so by the time we finished, the day was getting far too hot for such strenuous practice. Blissful savasana afterwards though and a wonderful feeling of relief to have got through it. We were visited by a beautiful white-breasted kingfisher (see library pic) which flew onto the branches that surround the terrace, just a few feet away from where we were sitting. We will repeat this weekly until the exam, hopefully seeing a progression each time .... We had a lovely s

October 6th - Abhijata Women's Class

Morning class with Abhi was great - interesting and informative I was completely absorbed throughout. It was a fast-paced and varied standing poses class with experiential philosophy beautifully interwoven with asana. Using asana as a Darshana - a mirror which reflects or exposes our flaws. She taught with clarity, authority and humour. We used AMVrksasana with maximum focus on the knees and thighs grip, to cultivate sensitivity and awareness of the legs in the standing poses. I really appreciated her teaching something of the skill of sequencing (beyond the basic sequencing tool of using simple poses to build up to more difficult poses) as this is an area many of us are lacking and is not o

October 5th - Navaz Pranayama

Getting hotter again and I opted to practice inside under the ceiling fans. Spent the morning battling with bhekasana - we will need to show the full pose with both hands on the feet turned, holding for 1 minute. We can both do this, but need to generate more lift in the chest so that the diaphragm isn't squashed (making breathing difficult) and because if you lift more, you get better purchase to press the feet down. We tried all sorts of things, including making a shoulder harness which was tied to the railings around the terrace, to scoop the chest up. Don't think we'll be getting any Nobel Prizes just yet - definitely a work in progress and if anyone has any top tips, get in touch! Prana

October 4th - Raya

Got stuck in to a full on practice session this morning working on the Senior 1 poses and finally completed our registration for the month's classes at the RIMYI office. Blessedly a little cooler today, but still wet with sweat at the slightest exertion. In the afternoon we ran a mini class on the outside terrace to practice our teaching with timings and linking poses as we will have to do for our upcoming assessment - a full on day's work, so as we were leaving for evening class we were already fatigued. I had vaguely thought it was Gulnaz on a Thursday but when I went into the small changing area an older local lady informed me that it was Raya. Gulp. And he didn't disappoint! We started

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