Headed off to the 9.30am Women's Class after very little sleep again and feeling very emotional. The hall was busier than we have seen it this trip, but much quieter than my normal January slot, so no problems getting a mat and somewhere to sit. Abhi got us settled and went through the beginning of the month protocols - advice on personal safety etc. We chanted the invocation together and Geeta launched straight in with a whole string of poses coiling the upper spine in and coming onto the crown of the head like paryankasana / matsyasana. This was a build up to supta vajrasana - sitting in baddha padmasana and coiling back onto the crown of the head. This is a fiendishly difficult pose that very few could do. Afterwards she acknowledged it was an advanced pose and said "Ah but how many of you are in pain now? didn't you all forget this pain and that pain or worry that you came in with?" and we all laughed because it was indeed true. Emotional? moi?
The class continued to be engaging and challenging throughout, finishing with an exhilarating sequence of swinging between eka pada setubandha and eka pada sarvangasana, repeatedly moving from one to the other. Full notes are below, bearing in mind that there was no note taker, so could easily have forgotten bits and got sequence jumbled.
We went home for fruit and curd on the terrace with Wendy and note taking on the morning's class, as usual marvelling at the salient points that felt as though they were just for us personally. We had worked extensively on how to create freedom in the spine to move forward, without using props - Geeta said once she gave one person a bolster, then another and another will come forward needing something. So even a gentleman recovering from a broken spine last year was able to work in this manner. It was a strong class and as I sit here typing up the notes, boy can I feel my back ribs!
October – 3rd Geetaji Women’s Class
We launched straight in with a series of seated poses coiling back onto the crown of the head like paryankasana / matsyasana. The instructions were the same each time, whatever the seated pose was. Come back onto the elbows, forearms on the floor. Grasp the edges of the sticky mat and coil the back spine deep inward to come onto the crown of the head. Eyes looking down and over at the mat above your head (do not look here and there). Re-lift the head, raise the sternum chest further upward and take trapezius away from neck, shoulder blades deep into upper back to bring the head further in. When we sat up she asked to come up without oscillating from side to side. Can you come up with evenness? And if you can’t come up with evenness, at least alternate the side that you press down with to lift up. We also often did the seated pose pressing the hands into the floor and coiling the spine in to look at the ceiling. Clavicles wide and back ribs deep in to raise the frontal chest upward. In the seated pose pressing the hands down and lifting the buttocks slightly off the floor (not tolasana) just enough to be able to press the legs fully down, creating a lightness and internal lift and maintaining that as you lower the buttock to the floor.
Dandasana – Coiling Back
Swastikasana – Coiling Back
Half padmasana – Coiling back
Padmasana – Coiling back
Upavista Konasana – coiling back like uttana padasana only with legs wide apart.
Baddha Konasana – Coiling back
Padmasana Parvatasana – Press your shoulder blades in to take your arms back behind the ears.
Supta Vajrasana From baddha padmasana maintaining the hold of the toes, coil back onto the crown of the head. This is fiendishly difficult – in LOY Guruji says “This is a difficult asana and requires great practice”
Janu Sirsasana –We lifted the buttocks up to get the freedom to go forward, creating a release where were caught and then grounding the buttocks down. Using the technique of rolling onto bent leg buttock (lifting opposite buttock completely off the floor) so that you completely ground the knee and then rolling onto straight leg buttock and grounding that side. So when right leg was bent, we came forward and caught the foot with the right hand only, with left hand placed on floor beside the leg so that we could roll. Many times rolling over to each side and when we stopped rolling and went forward, what happened? Everyone had found much greater freedom in the spine to go forward as well as being properly grounded in both straight leg and bent leg side buttock bones and knee.
Here she paused for a lecture. When we have a problem or when one of our students has a problem, we should not just accept and effectively ignore the problem. We have to reflect where is the student caught? What can be done to create freedom for them? Guruji has said in Astadala Yogamala and in his Basic Guidelines for Teachers that we as teachers must go home after the class and reflect on the students that are having difficulty and work out how to help them to move on. This is our responsibility. Within our own selves we have to be prepared to engage with our problems and use our creativity to work out what should be done – we have been taught (for example) bad knee, put the rope into the back of the knee and we blindly follow. But who should get the Nobel Prize? Us? Or the person who took the time to work this out for themselves?
Parivrtta Paschimottonasana x 2 each side Using the technique of repeatedly rolling onto the right buttock to get the elbow further over and rolling to the left buttock to further turn the torso. When rolling onto the left side, we had to roll over onto the bone, if you roll onto the flesh then you will topple and you are a fool! But if you don’t roll enough then you won’t get the turn, so you have to find out how much to roll.
Sirsasana “Everybody take the legs 2 inches back and suck the buttock in”– sirsasana virasana working on pump / kick / push the heels onto the buttocks repeatedly to lengthen the thighs- parsva virasana in sirsasana we took the knees back, sucked the buttock forward and had to push the heels onto the buttocks many times. When we turned to the right side, left heel had to press left buttock and then further turn.
Parsva eka pada sirsasana First we did this classically, then she wasn’t satisfied we were taking the leg far enough out so she had us do eka pada sirsasana with the toe touching the floor and then hopping the foot round on the floor to parsva eka pada sirsasana “Hop!! Be courageous and hop!! Further!!” and then from there raise the leg back up to sirsasana.
Halasana and Karnapidasana – Roll the buttocks fully over and then come onto the metatarsels so the foot lengthens back and the knees come right down to the temples. Quite a long arduous stay here. Sarvangasana - Eka Pada sarvangasana – Toe to the floor -she wasn’t satisfied with the verticality of the top leg, so we repeated this time we had to throw the top leg back as if you are doing parivrrta eka pada, throw it BACK then come to eka pada sarvangasana toe touching the floor without allowing the up leg to come forward. Now it will be more brilliant! - Eka pada sarvangasana to eka pada setu bandha repeatedly on each side. Toe has to touch the floor on the setu bandha leg, then touch the floor on the eka pada leg.
Savasana – legs as wide as the mat to create space and freedom in the sacrum and tailbone. Broaden the flesh and then the muscles, so that the muscles broaden to the flesh internally.