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 those that said no were allowed to go to the wall and try and those that claimed that yes, they had done previously, had to go straight to the centre of the room to do. Eventually though her soft heart won out and she relented to allow everyone to have a go, even though there had to be many rounds as it took such a lot of space. What was interesting about this, was that she appeared to have memorised every single person in the room and knew what answer they had originally given! Definitely a bit of Geetaji was shining through today!
She worked us hard throughout, taught us lots and as we lay in a blissful (if brief) savasana at the end, she said that sometimes in Iyengar Yoga you just have to WORK. Work for the freedom. Although you could say the work is purely physical, the benefit is mental. Is there not some joy, some happiness now? Chorus of Yes!! This is important for your life - as practitioners of Iyengar Yoga know that sometimes you physically have to work.
As Guruji said “Live, labour and Laugh”.
Prasant gave a question and answer session today for the people attending the Russian intensive with a Russian interpreter. Crikey, imagine being the person whose job it is to accurately translate the Prasant-isms into Russian!! Possibly the world’s most difficult job – those who are familiar with Prasant will know that he is incredibly clever and inventive with language often making up new words all together. I had intended to be present, but a crisis call from my gorgeous daughter at Uni took precedence, although after returning Jenny relayed that the questions were in Russian and no one thought to translate them back the other way, so the non-Russian speakers could only surmise what the questions had been from the answers that Prasant gave.
I bought some beautiful greeting cards with traditional Indian images hand painted onto leaves by the gentleman pictured below. He is such a gentle spirit and has been sitting on the wall between the park and the institute ever since my first trip and no doubt many years before that too. He is such a non-pushy seller that for almost the whole of the first year I didn't realise he was selling anything at all. In the two years since my last trip he has aged a lot. Do stop and have a look at what he has.
Women’s Class 13th February - Abhijata
•AMVirasana – Toes together knees apart. Find out where there is the thickness on the back body and extend forward on the front body to see if you can lessen that thickness and become thin there.
•Virasana – Seated between the feet.
AMVirasana Bend forwards knees together feet apart.
•AMSvanasana – strongly lift up the root of the thighs / sides of the waist and push back there. Remember the bricks we worked with last week.
•Sirsasana – There is a tendency for the forearms to roll out. Come down and place the hands like pinca mayurasana with the palms facing each other. Cut the centre of the forearm bone into the mat and lengthen the lower side of the wrist away. Maintain that cutting of the forearm bone and clasp the fingers. Go up. Don’t allow the pelvis to dip back. Backs of the knees open strongly. Lengthen up the sides of the waist, the outer hips reach upward. Parsva Sirsasana Buttocks in, ribs turn. “I am not happy with how much you are turning, come down!”
•Repeat with knuckles close to wall. Turn to the right side and bring the right hip so that it touches the wall turn so much that the outer right hip touches the wall, not the outer thigh (waiting group in parsva virasana). When the groups swapped the wall group repeated immediately x 2 each side in the centre of the room and then did parsva virasana.
•Parivrrta eka pada sirsasana at wall and in centre of room – the side you are turning to, that leg against the wall and if fear of falling, the other foot you can bring to the wall too. Waiting groups parivrtta trikonasana x 2 parivrtta parvakonasana x 2
•Bharadvajasana 1 –legs to left, turning to right - walk back with right hand and hold left heel. Roll shoulder back and make freedom in the armpit to move forward. Bend the arms, lengthen the shoulder and upper arm toward the elbow, exhale and turn further, catch the thigh.
•Split into two groups. Group 1 - take 1 chair and 1 brick between 2 people. Bharadvajasana seated in the chair, turning and catching the back rest of the chair (without scissoring the knees). Helper inserts a soft brick between the wrist and the body as they catch the chair. Focus on rolling the shoulder very deeply backward and pressing the back armpit forward – very clear distinction of shoulder rolling back and armpit chest lifting up and rolling forward. This was in no way a subtle action – many times I have “done” this but this was a much deeper opening out and separation of that area.
Group 2 – Bharadvajasana 2 using the extra space in the hall so that you have a wide berth to be able to fling the arm back with force, without fear of hitting anyone. Dummy run in slow motion to check the space is available.
1)6 times flinging that hand back with great force, as though you are slapping someone hard “I want to be able to hear the wind as you throw!” Take the arm lower down, don’t fling it back in line with the shoulder. Don’t just take the arm, see that the arms takes the shoulder so that the freedom in the armpit chest is created.
2)6 times flinging to lengthen the arm, make a wider circle so that you cover more territory. Once 6 times is over, hold the foot, better catch?
•Namaskarasana – see how easily all of the fingers, the palms lengthen and join together? Paschima Namaskarasana touch every part of the palm together – no gap!! Right elbow has to push right palm to the centre, left elbow has to push left palm to the centre. Elbows should not come behind the wrists, this is overdoing, see below.
•Paschima Namaskarasana - Demo on stage to show that with beginners the instruction is to roll the shoulders back and take the elbows further backward. But with students whose elbows are already back, they should not continue to go further and further back – the pose becomes distorted and incorrect. Instead we worked in pairs, person 1 in pasch nam, person 2 standing behind them with 2 actions 1) wrap your fingers over their wrists and roll the flesh away from their body and down towards the floor 2)moving the forearm bones towards each other so that the wrist / palm comes closer together. “Strong touch!! Don’t massage them there!!” Waiting group gomukhasana .
•Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 – Back has to become concave, kidney band IN!! Suck back ribs IN!! (lots of Abhi walloping people in the back body to bring the lift / concavity / life in this area) Move the chest away from the stomach. Like ustrasana GO!! Catching the thigh or shin. Repeat and on 2nd attempt Right leg in padmasana, take a blanket under the left buttock only so that the weight is getting tipped towards the padmasana knee. Does this give you a better catch? For me this adjustment meant I could catch the shin, instead of the thigh. “Now move the body away from the leg!! Take the body towards the balcony side!!”
•Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 – back to become concave. Use the back hand on the floor to turn more. Take the elbow over further so that the gap between the side body and the leg is removed. Chest away from the stomach. Those that can insert the hand under the foot.
•AMVrksasana – Buttocks away from the wall, lift up!!
•Ardha Sirsasana into first stage of mandalasana folded blanket on left side of mat for head, no one is to go into mandlasasana, preparation only - so walk feet away from head, so much less upright than you think. Then walk to right side with the feet, walk out to walk to the right side, head / neck / shoulders do not move. Lift the right shoulder and shoulderblade up. Hips swing a little so that one day you will complete the turn. Dorsal in. Move blanket to right side of mat and walk to left. Waiting group baddha hastasana learning to lift the wrists away from the body, don’t let the wrists touch the back body and still keep a firm grip of the elbows.
•Halasana – 5 thick mats
1) interlock fingers, take arms back and press wrists down and walk the feet away, away, away. Both interlocks.
2)Turn the wrists so that the palms press away. Both interlocks. Press the hands down, lift the back body up.
3)Slightly tighten the belt and take it to the wrists, keep the arms completely straight and 6 times press to the floor and release. 1!! 2!! 3!! 4!! 5!! 6!!
4)Repeat with the fingers interlocked and hands reversed, better? Yes!!
5)Place the hands into the back for sarvangasana and really get the lift in the upper back (without lifting the elbows at all) get the lift of the upper back so that you are flying. Back chest lifted!! Hips lifted!!
6)Halasana and interlock the fingers, press the wrists down so much that you can find the balance to lift up into sarvangasana 2, change the interlock while still up in the pose and find out how your spine drops when you release the interlock to change.
7)Savasana – Here she spoke about how in Iyengar Yoga you just have to WORK. Work for the freedom. Although the work is purely physical the benefit is mental. Is there not some joy, some happiness now? Chorus of Yes!! This is important for your life - as practitioners of Iyengar Yoga know that you physically have to work.
As Guruji said “Live, labour and Laugh”.