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 their mental resistance broken down, with her special talent of seeing through the 'fluff and bluster' and getting straight to the heart of the issue. She made the group laugh at one point where she had given someone some help in the pose - not for compassion's sake she told us, as she is not a compassionate type of person! Which reminded me that on Wednesday when she taught, she told us that she never cries - she said sometimes she has tried to cry but the tears just won't come. She alluded again to the fact, that her health is now poor and she only wishes to make sure she can teach at the Centenary, she said she has reached an old age, a dying age. I am sorry to report this, but am just repeating what has been said - of course we all dearly hope that this is not the case.
When I tried to write out the notes, I found I could remember most of the poses and many of the teaching points, but literally have no idea what went where. Please feel free to write and tell me if you were there and remember and I'll unscramble them.
After the class we headed home for lunch and I managed to catch up with dear ones back home. I especially enjoyed trying out a feature on Whats App that allows you to video chat with 3 other people at the same time, so I was chatting with one daughter at uni in London, another at uni in Exeter and at one point Louis at a coppice weekend in the countryside too. The wonders of modern technology, great!!
October 13th – Geetaji
Uttanasana – Go down, adjust to align outer feet with outer thighs, or wider If needed. Heels of hands to align with heels of feet.
Prasarita Paddottonasana – First we descended into the pose, head down and then we had to keep our hands where they were (back in line with the feet) and extend the side trunk forwards in the concave back position, with the arms straight (newer people were allowed to bring them forward a little). She showed on Prachi the correct work of the elbows. Just below the elbow bone, where the wrist bone meets the elbow joint, that bulge there you have to grip in. Prachi was told she shouldn’t over rotate the elbows (so that they faced forwards) as she needed to get the extension of the side armpit chest forwards. The grip there should not mean that the elbows collapse inward - what we call hyper-extension, the work should be even. There were many more instructions here on correct work of the elbows, but I couldn't fully grasp what Geetaji was saying, so I won't guess.
Parsvottonasana x 2– We did once and then looked at someone on the stage who was holding back from going forward because hamstring was paining them. Geeta said that the pain was being made worse by the fear in her body. She had to lift up the buttock and roll forwards from there.
When we did, instructions were - press the back thigh back, lift the front quadricep up and extend arms upward, middle buttock forward. Maintain the lift of the front quadricep as you extend forward rolling from the buttock and then take the hands down 6 inches either side of the front foot, so that we could lengthen the armpit chest forward. Keep palms in position, no need to bring them forward, extend down over the leg. Go!
Virasana Extend forwards
Dandasana How to take the strain from the pose? Spread the right buttock to the right side and left buttock to left side – completely remove the flesh from the bone – then weight very slightly forward so that actually you are on the top thigh. This is the very first time I have really felt my thigh bones press the floor.
Paschimottonasana Feet wider if the freedom is not there to come forwards. Understand that it is the work of the legs that creates the release for the spine. She worked with 2 people on the stage that could not move forwards – one who had arthritis and one who was just stiff. With the help of assistant teachers extending them from the back waist forward, pushing, lengthening forward and releasing several times, they found much greater freedom to go. They also took legs wider and extended along each leg individually, before attempting central extension over both legs again. Then the whole group did this sequence. Make a slight shuffle to move the thigh bones into the sockets and move forwards from the buttocks themselves, push forwards from there.
Swastikasana Really concentrating on the rolling of the feet (like padmasana) where the mound of the big toe has to roll down towards the floor and the little to has toe get lifted up. Using the hands to manually rotate calf and thigh flesh outward, away from each other. Parsva Swastikasana several repeats 1) Hands down catching opp knee to turn 2) Arms up to turn x 2 3) Arms up to turn and extending over the bent leg knee x 2
AM Swastikasana – Holding the feet and maintaining the foot hold and rotation to extend forward. Then if you can’t get the head down, that much lift the buttocks off the floor so that the head touches.
Supta Swatistikasana Suck the mid buttock up to take the knees down
Supta Baddha Konasana – Lift the buttocks up and bring them to the heels. Press the heels and understand how this makes the outer hips to contract. We need to know this contraction well to make the muscles strong there. Press the heels, feel outer thighs contract and buttocks suck upwards to take the knees downward.
Ardha Padma Paschimottonasna - Those that could not do started standing at the wall in ardha padmottonasana. Pumping the padmasana knee towards the wall. Those on the floor rolling onto padmasana knee and then if the buttock has lifted extending it back down to the floor without letting the padmasana knee lift up. Several Repeats.
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottonasana
Marichyasana 1 – Touch! Head down!
Malasana – rolled blanket under the heels, starting in sukhasana knees together squatting. Then knees apart going forwards through the legs, outer thighs rolling in and gripping the side body. Catch heels and release head down.
Padmasana – Those that could not do were instructed up on the stage. Sitting higher – 3 blankets and using the method from swastikasana where a brick (or softer support) is placed alongside the swastikasana shin close to the knee. The foot is place on the brick, keeping the knee releasing down and from there it is easier to swing in from the hip to bring the foot onto the thigh, as the foot is already on a level with the thigh once it’s placed on the brick.
We looked at a stiffer gentleman that was having problems with this. Geetaji had stopped the assistants from going any further with helping him and asked us if we had observed why. The reason was, his back was completely dropping and forcing the knee in was only going to push him more back into his already collapsed spine. They had also propped up his swastikasana knee, even though this could extend down. They removed the blanket from under his knee and it went to the floor, someone stood behind and supported the lift of his spine. Then his knee was paining, so a third assistant put the rope behind the knee and drew it out to the side and back towards his hip to give relief on the knee ligament. He got into padmasana. Another lady who felt that she couldn't do as it was causing pain in the sacrum, was simply told to extend the spine up and she good naturedly acknowledged that in fact there was now no pain at all.
Supta Ardha Padmasana – To get the knee down, suck the mid buttock up and that way pump the knee down. If sciatica pain or release is not coming, lift the opposite buttock off the floor too and roll the padmasana leg down.
Sarvangasana – Eka Pada Sarvangasana When extending the leg forward move the buttock forward, see how it slips back? When you press the buttock forward, it is impossible to go quickly – eka pada sarvangasana is not leg work, it’s buttock work – so control it from there and the same to come up, push the buttock forward to raise that leg up. Halasana karnapidasana to roll down so that you don’t land on anyone.
Savasana if the buttocks are not getting the release, take the legs wider so that they can fully release and spread. Surrender yourself completely to the Mother Earth. To surrender yourself fully, you have to let go of your identity, forget you are you and merge with the earth. When we cannot release properly, it is because we are holding onto the identity, let go there. Spread the eyebrows – how we tend to gather the energy there. Let the eyebrows spread apart from each other, so that the energy doesn’t get gathered as is our habit and release the eyes and frontal brain inwards away from the skull. Release from the head downwards – how when you stand in the cool shower, it’s very soothing when the water flows from the head down over the body, so in that way but with the air, flow downwards.