Back to Vardhaman Pratishthan this morning for Women's Class and it was pure Geetaji gold! First off we had the hilarious organisation of the group with Raya, at top of voice “Who has a period?” “Periods over here, Headache?? Headaches come here! Who has diarrhoea? Loose stools? Loose stools here!!”
We began the practice with the Invocation and Guru Chant in swastikasana and it was admittedly pretty discordant and in some cases, half hearted. Geetaji felt that some were not treating it with sufficient seriousness and respect. So we swapped the leg position and chanted it again and then again and again and again and so on, until we had done 45-55 minutes of chanting the invocation continuously and just about all the seated poses, both crosses of the leg! The chanting became steadily more melodious with each repeat and I felt my heart open up so that the singing radiated from there. I loved it, but wondered how others were faring. Geetaji spoke of boredom (and how it was a klesha) and how maybe we hoped that she would 'just get on with it' but actually anyone I spoke to, had the same experience of the chanting being moving and beautiful. She said that the chanting should be treated as one of the Niyamas and an integral part of daily practice.
She spoke again of compassion and I can't accurately convey her actual words, because really she was parodying us - how we are so soft and gentle (and ineffective) when we offer each other sympathy and let each other off of doing anything that is difficult in the name of compassion. I'll let you imagine how that went and Abhi joined in with a chuckle, you have a problem? then just relax!! She told us she will not do false compassion but if we are willing to do the work she will try to help and if not, well then please just stay at home and there you can relax .
The class was busy and mats were close together, so that when we did the Vira 3 with arms outstretched sideways like wings of an aeroplane, the people in my row all seemed to come to a tacit agreement that we could take the support of each others back body for our palms, so that we were all supporting and being supported. Not sure what Geeta would have said, but we were all beautifully aligned and steady!
After class and lunch, we headed off through Pune's busy streets for the green hills of Panchagani. Pune is a sea of orange flowers - heap after heap of orange flowers along the roadsides as people prepare for tomorrow's holiday as part of the Durga Puja festivities. We have arrived in Panchagani in rain and cool temperatures, so I'm hoping for deeply peaceful sleep tonight without the need for constant ceiling fan. Once again there was no note taker so many of the poses slightly mixed up in the sequence below and I pretty much lost consciousness throughout the savasana, so I cannot tell you a single word she said (mind you Sarah and Wendy were awake and they couldn't tell me much either, so beautifully relaxed they were).
17th October – Geetaji
Swastikasana We did the invocation and Guru Chant 15 times (eyes open after the first time) that I counted, in the different leg positions given below. So we were chanting the invocation 45-55 minutes! She repeatedly instructed us to lift the spine and open the chest. We had to keep the mouth open as we chanted until we came to the mmmm part of aum, here the lips closed to make the vibration. So open on the A sound, beginning to close on the U sound and closed on the mmmm sound. The chanting became steadily more melodious. I felt I was singing from the heart. Afterwards she said the chanting had also allowed us to sit without fidgeting or becoming distracted by this pain or that pain in many leg positions – side dish for you! She spoke during these repetitions about boredom being one of the kleshas.
Half Padmasana Repeat invocation both sides. Hold the knees for chest lift.
Virasana Repeat Invocation. In virasana it is the anterior spine (that faces the organ body) which has to find the lift.
Dandasana - how the outer thighs have to grip like ashwini mudra.
Baddha Konasana Holding under the feet to chant.
Padmasana Holding the knees to chant. Repeat invocation both sides.
Gomukhasana Repeat invocation both sides - crossing the knees, sitting on the folded blanket, feet kept outside (variation). Palms atop each other on the knee to chant.
Siddhasana Repeat invocation both sides. We know the toes of the top leg have to tuck between the thighs and the calf, but did you know he toes of the under foot have to poke up between the opp thigh and calf also? We had to use the hands to catch the toe that was poking up and the other hands to press in the toes that were concealed – one hand pressing one hand pulling. She gave the analogy of how when you carry your purse you keep the small change to give the rickshaw driver readily available, but the bigger notes you keep them zipped up, concealed inside. Holding the toes in this manner as we chanted the invocation.
Paschimottonasana First time it won’t come easily to you.
Janu Sirsasana Hold extended leg, outer foot with opposite hand, stabilise with same side hand on the floor. Take head down to floor on outside of knee (lift buttock if necs), then place head on floor, inside the knee, then place head on the knee / shin itself.
Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana Take bent leg knee much further back. Back! Back ! BACK!! Roll onto bent leg buttock side to free the buttock flesh on straight leg buttock side. Roll onto straight leg buttock to take knee further back and then extend bent leg towards / onto the floor. Bring the elbow inside the knee to press the floor. Top hand on the waist. If the hamstring / sciatic / sacrum is paining you can relieve that pressure by bringing the elbow further away from the inner leg, lifting the SL buttock up slightly and relieving the pressure there. Now turn the trunk, turn, turn , turn and roll back onto SL side buttock to turn further. Roll Back!! Top arm extend behind the ear like parsvakonasana and then (those that can) catch the opposite side of the foot.
Repeat Janu (how much better is it coming after the parivrrta?) Same actions, head outside, head inside, head on and then back to Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana and again back to Janu Sirsasana. Are you getting it or not? How the Parivrrta Janu works for the Janu? How we have to spread the awareness in so many places so that we get multi pointed awareness, which can then lead to eka grata – one pointed attention.
Legs apart Pachimottonasana Going over each leg individually, before going centrally over the two and taking the head to the floor. Here we looked at someone with bulging disk who was extremely fearful about creating pain for herself later. How to help? The student had learned that she must to concave back uttanasana to create length and space there. Geeta got us all up to do CCB uttanasana and padangusthasana to find out how we could dig the sacral spine in and create length there. Then everyone took 3 blankets, double folded to sit much higher. She went forward to the seat of the chair, lengthening and lifting sacral area and then began to walk down the front legs of the chair. You have a bulging disk?? Then you have to lengthen and lift to move that bulge inside.
Trikonasana Bring the hand to the front ankle. Here she said to a student who was not opening and extending, that she wanted to be able to see the whole ‘100’ that was on her centenary t shirt. She had to open from the back spine forward and move the sternum towards the chin to get that opening.
Parsvakonasana Top arm straight up because you have just done forward bends, I want to the openness of top chest.
Ardha Chandrasana Lift the top leg!
Vira 3 Arms outstretched to the side like viminasana
Parsvottonasana Hands in namaskarasana.
Parivrrta Ardha Chandrasana
Parivrrta Parsvakonasana Suck all the spinal muscles inside, at least that much you can do.
Prasarita Paddottonasana Take the head down
Sirsasana I know very well that you are tired, that you get tired. There are 2 places you have to concentrate so that you can stay without the fatigue. 1) Dorsal inward 2) Frontal thighs backwards.
Halasana The awkward finger interlock – turn the palms so that the thumbs joint down towards the floor and away from your back and find out what is the stiffness of the armpit! Both interlocks.
Sarvangasana The 2 points that must be concentrated on to stay quietly 1) The back ribs with the palms forward 2) The tailbone inwards (and that itself will take the legs back).
Eka Pada Sarvangasana X 2 Take the foot to the floor! Touch!
Savasana - 2 x 3 folded blanket spine wise, 1 folded blanket for the head where required. Long stay here which I slept soundly throughout (so you’ll have to wait for the recording for her beautiful words here).