Class Twenty-one

October 31st, 2017

Prashant picked up on yesterday’s threads of the breath like a mother’s touch, the breath being like internal currency, the udyana work, and added silent vowels sounds to viloma (“a” as in father, “e” as in sweet, “oo” as in food).

Although there were no animal references that I remember today, he did use the word “unscrupulous” in a story about a business man. He seems to love language and words. His raps of instruction included a revolving door, often for prepositions. “The breath in you, the breath on you, with you, for you.” It’s fun to listen to. All he needs is a little melody and a bit of rhythm and he could be the next YouTube sensation.

Today’s sequence was identical to yesterday’s sequence except he insisted on supta virasana. To my knowledge he hasn’t been insistent on any one particular pose, often, especially during asana classes, giving lots of choices. But today he was insistent that we do and practice supta virasana. Yesterday he said to realize that the thigh bones were in a specific orientation and to the trunk and this had a specific affect to the internal organs. This is why supta virasana is given as a pose to do after a large meal.

There was more in today’s class but like melting ice cream on a hot day, the harder I try to capture it, the slipperier it gets. There was an analogy about the kind of wifi connection a hotel has when traveling and how it is analogous to how the breath connects to the body. There was a tidbit about both the abdomin and the head being the two places that had the most connections to the rest of the body. They are the best networkers.

I began the month struggling to just understand the words. It felt like I could catch very little, maybe 10%, of what Prashant speedily said in his accented English. Perhaps today his pace of speech was slower. Even so, I would say that what I catch is more like 80%. Understanding the meaning of his words will take much more study.

So happy to have had this experience. Glad to have taken classes here and to have some of the mystery about RIMYI unveiled. Delighted to have my bag packed and leaving Pune momentarily. On to Mumbai for a day. Then a flight back to US soil.

Class Twenty-two

October 30th, 2017

It was clear from the mat choice of the locals that we were doing pranayama today. Soft mats, bolsters and blankets were gathered. There were only about ten Western faces in the very large class this morning. Many people have departed already. We will go to our last class tomorrow and then head for Mumbai.

Prashant instructed “a supine pose” of our choice to start and we jumped right into to pranayama. There’s no settling time with Prashant except for the instruction to do so. He starts right in. In the early morning the cooking fires a block away fill the air with smoke and I find it hard to breath deeply in any smoky situation so I just hung in there until the air cleared.

During his lecture portion he talked about the breath being internal currency. Like a big bag of rupees is worthless to a monkey (this guy loves animals! I swear they come up in nearly every class) money is not worth anything to our internal selves. It can buy us (our external selves) everything from “essentials” to “luxuries” but when it comes to internal exploration, breath is the currency.

These experiments take place in the laboratory of the body. He talked about practicing to become proficient. Practice the same pose over and over, day after day, and once you know the pose, once proficient, then explore the pose. Study the breath. Experiment in the pose. Use the body as a laboratory. He maintained that Guruji didn’t practice until his death but was proficient in his poses decades before his death. He was experimenting/exploring in those poses until he died.

Like a mother’s touch to her newborn baby, the breath should be as gentle. As our external physical selves like and don’t like to be touched, find which part of the internal self does and does not like to be touched by the breath. Explore theses areas with a breath that is as gentle as that mother’s touch.

Again, after pranayama I feel like an unreliable witness. Prashant is fond of giving choices during class and today he suggested we could change our arm positions, include graphic breathing or directing the exhalation to come from the skull, thorastic region or chest cavity. During our supported savasana he also introduced doing viloma with silent sounds. For instance it might go something like this: inhale with a silent “Goo”, pause, inhale with a silent “guy”, pause, inhale with a silent “ghee”.

It was a lovely class and I am understanding more and more and more and more of his fast paced, accented yogic rap.

Here is the sequence for what it is worth (without the detail of what breathing patterns we did):

Supta baddhakonasana (supine pose of choice)

Supta Virasana

Supta baddhakonasana (supine pose of choice)

Sit on the bolster

Supported savasana

Sit on the bolster

Aga Khan Palace

October 29th, 2017

Amin, auto rickshaw driver extraordinaire, took us to Aga Khan Palace today. Originally built in 1892 by Sultan Mahuammmed Shah Aga Khan III as an act of charity to help the poor in the area of Pune suffering from famine, the palace now holds the Gandhi Memorial and the organization that runs it.

Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba, and his secretary Mahadev Desai were all imprisoned in this Palace between August of 1942 thought May of 1944, following the launch of the “Quit India Now” movement. During that almost two year time period, both Kasturba and Desai died. Their “samadhis” are on the grounds as well as some of Mahatma’s ashes. In 2003 the Archaeological Survey of India declared the place a monument of national importance.

There was a group of kids all wearing red ball caps that said “Adventure” on them. There were several photographers and their pre-wedding parties there capturing shots under the arches and on the grounds. And then some smaller families. It wasn’t crowded and we could take our time and photos. And nobody asked us to take our photo. The building seems in good shape but the exhibits need some work. I appreciated that the explanations were in English (always a bonus).

Class Twenty

October 28th, 2017

There are fewer people in class as we approach the end of the month long study. And a few new faces have shown up for the beginning of their month.

All month classes have started on time, if not early. Prashant is often getting us to “settle” at two minutes before 7 AM. So today, when there wasn’t a teacher in the room at the appointed start time, it was unusual. Abijata entered about a minute later and got us started. She taught the class, picking up the theme from Wednesday’s class, opening the groins, for the first half an hour. Then Geeta entered and there was that same back and forth…sometime Abi teaching, sometimes Geeta teaching, sometimes Geeta teaching through Abi, sometimes Geeta lecturing. The mic seemed to be alternately working and not working or not on the person speaking. At one point I was on the street side and when there was no mic I barely heard anything at all. After one of Geeta’s lectures, I moved up towards the stage for a better opportunity to hear.

Compared to Wednesday, it was less chaotic, less tyrannical, and at one point, there was a wee bit of self deprecating humor from Geeta. There was a point where she asked some one “Do you speak English?” and later used the word “stupid” but the rest of the words were unintelligible when addressing some issue with a certain person (not me!).

Once we did some asana to open the groins, it was time to settle down for pranayama. It is pranayama week, after all. It seemed like it might be impossible to be calm and go inward after all the shouting of instructions and mental gymnastics of trying to figure out who to listen to and what they were saying. The prep work and the pranayama set up resulted in a pleasant experience. Abi talked about softening the bones, the flesh and in particular, the skin, specifically of the buttocks and to “decentralized”. The idea of spreading the breath without tightening the skin and without centralizing the body was the focus of the pranayama. To help this decentralization the spine was on a rolled up blanket. Knees bent and feet wide allowed access to smooth and spread the buttock flesh from the sacrum. When straightening the legs, the feet ended up just a bit wider than the mat, heels on the floor. At first it felt a bit awkward by something let go or adjusted and I was a happy yogi throughout the rest of the class.

The sequence went something like this:

Adho Mukha Virasana

Uttanasana

Full arm balance

Trikonasana (cut the juncture of the front leg buttock and thigh forward, stabilize the outer thigh of the back leg and roll open)

Parsvakonasana (arm in front of front leg and push it on the leg to open groin)

Prasarita padottanasana

Sirsasana (twice) – upa vista, baddhakonasana konasana, parviakapada

Baddhakonasana (knees DOWN, pump knees down)

Supta baddhakonasana (rolled blanket under sacrum) hold ankles

Baddhakonasana with feet to the wall

Sirsasana – upa vista, baddhakonasana konasana

Salamba Sarvangasana, supta konasana, Sarvangasana cycling through baddhakonasana, upa vista, eka pada and then using a sort of janusirsasana leg position and straightening the leg from there into parsvakonasana eka pada

Supported savasanaa with a Rolled blanket under entire spine (sacrum to head), legs so wide the feet are off the edges of the mat. Pranayama here for some time.

Virasana

Class Nineteen

October 27th, 2017

Navaz is direct, caring, specific, clear, compassionate and gentle. Her delivery is slow enough that I can understand her words and the timber of her voice is deep. It was a powerfully inward going class, as only pranayama can be. It is hard to describe in words. There is a place where I get quiet, touch on my emotional self, and feel like I am grounded yet floating.

At the end of class, some of her words in savasana were comforting and calming. Something like “Allow the exhalation to start at your hairline and travel down your face, over the front of your body to your feet”. She said to breathe in the prana (life energy) from the cosmos, for there will come a time when there is no more breath. Inhale and be grateful for life, exhale and surrender inward.

The sequence went something like this:

Supported savasana doing ujjayi

Swastikasana doing viloma

Virasana doing digital

Savasana flat with weight on the roots of the thighs.

Coconut Rice

October 27th, 2017

Our flat mate Lally left for England this morning so last night was our last meal the three of us shared. Aneeta outdid herself and made coconut rice, which was extra delicious. We took this photo of the four of us using the 10 second timer, which Aneeta couldn’t seem to wrap her brain around.

We all like it so much I went to the photo place down the road to get a print so Aneeta could have a copy. It is one of these places that is a single garage door size wide and maybe just a single car garage (maybe smaller) deep. The woman behind the counter and I had a conversation that consisted of one word sentences/questions and that sideways head bob, that is so prevalent here, that means “yes”. And, after me getting behind the counter and sitting at her desk to download the photo from my camera to her computer, we were in business. Five minutes and 50 rupes later, success!

Class Eighteen

October 26th, 2017

After a pranayama class I feel like an unreliable witness. I know things were said and we did some breathing but it all seems as slippery as an eel. I can’t hold on to much.

After the invocation the third row was instructed to hand in rope Sirsasana and the rest of the class was in supta baddhakonasana. Prashant talked about using the breath for the skin, the flesh, the bones, muscles, sense organs, etc. The rap continues even in these long hold quiet poses. My take away today was the topic of using the breath to find your purpose.

Somehow he got on the topic of animals today. Something about how animals think and how we should try and figure out how (or what) animals think. He compared a cow and a buffalo and a bull and the eyes of a cow and how they are different from the eyes of another animal. He segued into talking about the difference between cats and dogs. He couldn’t understand why anyone would have a cat for a pet. “Cats are scoundrels” (he tends to use the word scoundrel frequently) and you can tell they are up to no good just by watching then slink into the kitchen. They KNOW they are up to no good! It got a chuckle. I suspect there are many people in India who have similar feelings. Cats are far and few between here. Dogs? There are a bazillion of them. Even Prashant seems to get lost in his musings. He will pause and say “Anyway”, regroup, change the subject, and go on.

For what it’s worth, here’s the sequence. He talked about udyana during all of these poses and encouraged us to change our arm positions in the supine poses.

Hang in Sirsasana

Supta baddhakonasana

Supta swastikasana

Swastikasana

Supported savasana

Flat savasana

Class Seventeen

October 25th, 2017

As we entered class we were advised by one of the other students to get the cushy mats because we were doing pranayama today.

Rajlaxmi started the class with the invocation, Adho Mukha Virasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana and while in theses first two poses, there was some fussing going on in the front of the room. When we came up, Geeta was seated in the front of the room and Abijata was also there and took over the mic from Rajlaxmi.

For most of the class Geeta was teaching, much of the instruction coming from her to Abi, who would deliver the instructions to us. And sometimes Abi would hold the mic in front of Geeta for her to instruct (and chastise us). It wasn’t exactly smooth or soothing. At one point I thought to myself “Does anyone know what is going on? Who is controlling the class?” It was sort of organized chaos, at some points Geeta teaching, Abi teaching, and Rajlaxmi and other teachers going around the room making adjustments.

The emphasis was opening the groin area, since, upon her observation of us in Adho Mukha Virasana, Geeta said our chests were open enough. So the action in most of the asana work was to take the legs apart (uttanasana, Sirsasana, Sarvangasana) and turn the thighs in and take the tailbone in so the lower abdominal could recede.

Here’s the sequence as I remember it:

Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Uttanasana

Sirsasana (for what seemed like 15 minutes!)

Supta baddhakonasana flat on the floor, using two belts, one on each leg and a rolled up blanket to elevate the sacrum a bit

Salamba Sarvangasana

Halasana

Sit on the end of a bolster for pranayama

Savasana

Prone savasana

Class Sixteen

October 24th, 2017

Prashant started his two hour lecture today where he left off yesterday, expanding on “Learn to do, then do to learn.” Not only should we do to learn we should “do to prepare, do to sense, do to perceive, do to investigate, do to experiment, do to try, and not just do to do.” Certainly a wordsmith could rearrange these pairs into a cool yoga rap or poem. Prashant is like a rapper, in that his words flow quickly and repetitively (and unintelligibly) throughout his class.

There was more this morning that I cannot give justice to. Snippets of what he says come and go. It is like separating the wheat from the chaff, yet with a very low yield. Somewhere in the mix was something like “Clarity comes from observation and investigation.” There was a thread about personal dharma. There was a criticism of “isms” at war with “isms”. That these wars stemmed from not knowing the self and that would be a better pursuit. There was a thread about activity and perception. For example, Prashant speaks the same words to all of us we each perceive something different. He is who he is and we bring who we are to the table.

He told a story today that everyone could understand and the entire room laughed. A bank manager was at home and his neighbor came over to complain about her husband. And because of whatever she was complaining about she took some action. The bank manager said “You’re right.” Then the woman’s husband came over to complain about his wife. And because of whatever he was complaining about he took some action. The bank manager said “You’re right.” Then the bank manager’s wife came into the room and said “You listened to both of them and told both of them that they were right!” And he said “You’re right!” Everyone chuckled. Prashant said that the bank manager was a man in business and that “the customer is always right” and so that is the bank manager’s paradigm. Listening to that story you could find many different meanings. And I think that is also part of the point.

Here’s what I remember about the sequence:

Sirsasana or rope Sirsasana or Dwi pada vipariti dandasana on the chair. Switch groups until everyone had a chance to hang.

Many options were next. It feels like a five ring circus and you switch and switch until you have done all or most (or avoid what you don’t want to do) until he adds another option.

Standing back arch

Ustrasana

Danurasana

Urdhva danurasana

Rope wall back arch

Eka pada vipariti dandasana on the chair

Everyone in salamba Sarvangasana

Savasana – There were 23 minutes left in class. We were here for almost ten glorious minutes, half of which Prashant was silent. Then he got us up to sit.

Swastikasana, twist right then left. Then he carried on with more lecture, ran out of steam and said, “That’s enough for today”. He turned off the mic and said his customary “Clear the hall”

Trishunda Mayureshwar Ganpati Temple

October 23rd, 2017

And here are some photos of Trishunda Mayureshwar Ganpati Temple. Notice the guy hanging out on the balcony on the apartment next door noticing us?