Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

Class Thirteen

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Suneeta came to class today with the same “If looks could kill” look in her eyes. If I think she is looking at me, I pretend I don’t notice, be casual, and keep looking. Frankly, her look is intimidating. There was some scolding/ridiculing today but less than other days and there were more helpful teaching points and specific instructions that were also helpful. And there was some nice linking between poses. She even made a joke that was not at anyone’s expense.

We did standing poses and then seated twists and everything was heat producing, especially after the power cut when the fans went out. My glasses fogged up more than once. The theme of the class was very much the same as last Wednesday, “Extend and rotate”. That would be the Suneeta rap for the month of October!

It was a hard class, an organic class (cleansing the kidneys). I was apparently not the only one who felt that was, especially in the seated twists because people were groaning and grunting and breathing hard. I liked it and it is more of what I expected the yoga to be like here.

Here’s what I remember about the sequence:

Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana


Some people went to the wall and tressler and others got a chair for standing poses. Facing the wall, tressler, or chair we did



Ardha Chandrasana

Parivrtta trikonasana


Upa vista konasana

Upa vista konasana, bend the left leg to baddhakonasana, turn towards the leg. Repeat on left side. Then extend over the bent leg and extend and rotate, sweeping to the right side in a sort of parivrtta janusirsasana like shape of the pose

Parivrtta upa vista konasana

Parivrtta janusirsasana

Parivrtta dandasana/parivrtta paschimottanasana





Class Twelve

Friday, October 13th, 2017

I can’t say much about tonight’s pranayama class except that it was nice. I enjoy pranayama, have a daily practice and know that it is one of the things that keeps me on and even keel.

Rajlaxmi must’ve spent the entire day at the Institute. She taught the 6 am pranayama class, the morning asana class I was in at 7 am, did her practice during practice hours (reportedly backbends) and was helping in the medical class at 4 before teaching our 6 pm pranayama class. That’s a long day of yoga.

We were in supported (bolster) savasana for about 25 minutes, then sat on the bolster for 20 and did unsupported savasana for 15 minutes. It was ujjayi and some viloma.

Class eleven

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Rajlaxmi (certainly not sure if I have that right) is demanding, brusk, and high (sometimes scattered) energy, rapidly firing instructions in a tone of voice that sounds somewhat disapproving. As much as I don’t care for the delivery, it was a fun, challenging, and good sequence. The class was full, more than 70 people in the room, so there was a lot for her to pick on.

I will also say that it is tedious to tune in and sort out the rapid fire instructions said with an accent. In addition, all the teachers to one degree or another, lapse into their native language, Marathi. So there is an added layer of when to tune in and tune out that almost always stern tone.

The sequence went something like this:

Forward bend in swastikasana

Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Swastikasana- lift off the ground like Lolasana



Adho Mukha Svanasana to Vira 1

Adho Mukha Svanasana to a lunge with the back leg all the way to the floor, heel of the lunging leg to the buttock

Adho Mukha Svanasana to a lunge with the back leg all the way to the floor, lunge leg in Virasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana to a lunge with the back leg all the way to the floor, lunge leg in swastikasana or janusirsasana (like rajakapotasana)

Intermittently there were some Adho Mukha Svanasanas to urdhva Mukha svanasanas

Several stations around the room for chest opening:

Back bending over the tressler, rope or the bar along the window wall. Also all seven backbenders were on the stage to experience them. Sirsasana was also one of the stations.

Virasana, twist (or bharadvajasana)

Halasana, parsva halasana, karnipidasana. We did this on a bolster (I have heard this referred to as “toppling halasana”).


Class Ten

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

“Exhale further and further and further and further.” Prashant continues to concentrate his instructions on the exhalation. At one point he stopped to tell us that lemons have different chemical reactions when combined with other elements. Squeeze a lemon into cold water, wam water, coffee, cottage cheese and you get a different chemical reaction, a different affect. As humans we also have different modalities. We are friends, teachers, students, daughters, mothers, sisters. And our yoga poses, although they may be the same poses from day to day, can and should be done differently, for different affects.

Today we did our poses for the pelvis, which was serendipitous because I had some sort of minor gastrointestinal upset that, by the second or third poses, was gone.

Again, the sequence doesn’t matter. Prashant makes that clear. It is DOING the pose in a certain way for a certain effect that matters. And, again, there were groups doing different poses. I made the choice not to hang because I felt slightly nauseous and thought hanging upside down would be a bad idea. By the time I felt like I could hang, that option was off the table.

Here is what I remember about the sequence:

Men to the ropes to hang in Sirsasana

Women to the window rope for rope downward facing dog or


Switch groups, switch groups again and again until everyone has a chance to hang.

Trikonasana with top arm holding the rope


Dwipada viparita dandasana

Eka pada vipariti dandasana

Supta padangustasana I, II

Uttihta Padangustasana

Chair Sarvangasana


Class Nine

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Suneeta was alternately scolding and direct again today. One of the regular locals to the class describes all of the Iyengars as “fiery”. She obviously knows her stuff, although, in my opinion, the whole chastising and name calling gets in the way of the delivery. It seemed like there were fewer people in class. In fact, before we began she encouraged some people to move up and over so we weren’t so close together.

Her first scolding was about being on time. “Come to class on time, in fact it is a rule that you are to be there five minutes before the class start time” and be ready. Coming in late is distracting to both teacher and students. We see, we hear, we get disturbed by the movement of the person coming in late.

This morphed into a lesson on steadying the eyes, to not look here and there (and especially don’t look at anyone else in the room), to quiet the mind and the body. The rest of the class was focused on training the eyes on an imaginary line and following it when turning or moving in the pose. Instead of a single point, which narrows the mind, see the length of the line to broaden the mind. She incorporated this idea of the line in the rest of the sequence (with tirades and scolding and name calling in between poses), which went something like this:

Baddhakonasana – turn to the right and left, training the eyes on the imaginary line and see this line in all the rest of the sequence







Salamba Sarvangasana


Class Eight

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Prashant was alternately stern and a jokester today. He continued the instruction of “more and more and more and more exhalation” in poses that were obviously in preparation for backbends. He joked, even once it was a pun/play on words, sometimes not in English so only the locals could understand, with a twinkle in his eye like his father and a grin. Even when the joke’s not in English the smiles and laughter contribute to a light hearted, fun environment.

The emphasis was on concave back in the poses, head back, looking back (unless contraindicated for eye, thyroid issues), and to use the exhalation to carve out the back, or suck it in, like an udyana exhalation. The rap of the day? “Suck, inhale. Suck, exhale. Suck, retain.” Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Again, groups of practitioners cycled through three stations; rope wall, at the window wall and in the middle of the room on the mat. Seventy-five minutes went by before we got to ustrasana. Here’s what I remember of the sequence.

Group on the rope wall in rope bhujangasana (a common theme in most classes)

Group on the window wall in rope downward facing dog (another common theme)

Group on the mat in downward facing dog

Swastikasana, lean slightly back, open chest. Look up and back. Exhale more and more and more.

Padmasana, lean slightly back, open chest. Look up and back. Exhale more and more and more.

Upa vista konasana, lean slightly back, open chest. Look up and back. Exhale more and more and more.

Upa vista konasana, turned over the right leg, belt around foot, lean slightly back, open chest. Look up and back. Exhale more and more and more.

Upa vista konasana, turned over the left leg, belt around foot, lean slightly back, open chest. Look up and back. Exhale more and more and more.

Janusirsasana, sit straight, concave back. Bend slightly forward, concave back

Rope wall bjuangasana from elbows

Squat, buttocks to wall, feet under knees, hang from elbows

Window wall, uttitha padangustasana, parsva



Parsva danurasana


Rope purvottasana

Salamba Sarvangasana


Class Seven

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Prashant talked a lot today. There seemed to be more people in the room and less asana done. He continues on his “exhale more and more and more and more” message today using the word evacuation to sum up this action. He encourages us to continue to explore the body as a laboratory to discover the self and see/feel/observe/learn what the connection between the breath and the body, mind, and self is. His rapid fire instructions “breath and body, breath and mind, breath and eye, breath and organs” begins to sound like what my colleague Alicia Rowe says, a rap.

Not only are there large photos of Mr. Iyengar on the walls, it seems like there is every photo in “Light on Yoga” reproduced in an smaller size hanging lower on the walls. There are five walls and on each wall there are three rows of photos, maybe 15 in each row, for a total of more than 125 photos. Prashant pointed out the photo of udyana and encouraged that sort of complete exhalation and exploring what that does for the pose, for the spine, etc. (insert rap of your own here).

More and more I can understand the words yet remembering the entire nearly two hour lecture without taking notes is entirely another skill set I don’t think I have ever had. Another topic was something about study and knowledge. Read, learn, know was, I think, part of it. He had a guy stand up and he said we know this is a human being. We know two things, he is a human and a man. He continued “If I say he is a father, you can also infer he is a husband and has a child. If I say he is a grandfather then one of his children has a child.” We know one thing, then we know two things, three things, and more things about the man.

The sequence went something like this:

Downward facing dog

Badanguliasana in tadasana

Group at the rope wall (so only ten at a time) doing rope bhujangasana, ropes one

Group in the middle of the room sitting in upa vista konasana, twisting to the right then left, then bharadvajasana, then marichyasana one.

Group on chairs doing chair bharadvajasana, sitting sideways, then through the chair

People cycled through these groups until everyone had been at the rope wall

Group on the mat ended class in janusirsasana, paschimottanasana

Group on the chairs did chair shoulderstand.


Personal Practice

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

In addition to the six classes a week, I have been practicing every day. About half the days I have gone over to the Institute and the other half practiced in the flat. For the last year I have been rehabilitating a shoulder injury. Even before that, I somewhere along the line lost my ability to do full arm balance. There is something empowering and freeing about standing on my hands and I missed being able to float up and support my weight on my hands.

With some physical therapy this past winter and a LOT of yoga the last eight months or so, I finally got up in full arm balance. The first time I needed a little help from my friend Lorene and the next two times I got up on my own.

One of the things I got out of Prashant’s lectures/classes last week was the idea that it is worth taking stock of how far we have come. To look at the instrument panel of our practice and measure. Many times in yoga the measurements are incremental. First I could only do badanguliasana two thirds of the way over my head. It was painful to just take my arms over my head without weight. With practice I could get my arms all the way over my head. There was a lot of downward facing dog, plank and, eventually upward facing dog. Then I could do half full arm balance, even if it was just for a breath. Coming out of rope Sirsasana, I could support my weight in full arm balance and come down with my elbows belted (even though I couldn’t support my weight going up). So along the way there were measurements of progress, of how far I had come. That journey of practice along with patience and persistence I was to stand on my hands again. Next destination? Pincha mayurasana.

English *is* my first language!

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

When I decided to come to India I knew understanding the accent would be troublesome for me. My ear is still tuning in to the teachers at the Institute (and other locals we meet along the way). Every class I understand more and more. Even so, today in class I heard “Radio Shack” and “mazel tov” (not in the same sentence) which is absurd and totally distracting. I just move on, leaving that sentence behind, and know that the concepts are usually repeated.

Class six

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Saturday mornings the “gents” have class at 7 AM and the ladies at 9:30 AM so there were fewer bodies in class.

Suneeta, who taught Wednesday’s class, also taught this morning. A large woman with a commanding, stern, crabby voice led us through a sequence of poses. As a breast cancer survivor she doesn’t seem to have much compassion as she ridiculed a couple of people for yawning during her questioning and showed her disatisfaction to the answers to her pop quiz questions. As much patience as I see out and about on the roads, there is a serious lack of it in the practice hall. We are too slow, too stupid, too distracted.

Shortly after we started it was clear one of the students in class was suffering a back issue. Suneeta picked her out and commanded senior teachers in the room to help give modifications and props to the woman and, during supta padangustasana, had us gather around to watch the modification before we tried it ourselves. Even then, one on one, Suneeta’s barking voice is harsh and impatient.

There’s a nice link in the sequence somewhere at the root of the thigh, which I will have to find during practice. The whole episode left me feeling jangled and disconnected. It’s not an environment that is conducive to my learning style. I was back to neutral by the time I was back to the flat but it didn’t feel like a complete, calming, or integrated practice or class.

As one of my teachers says “Sometimes the best part of yoga is having done yoga.” Today was one of those days when I was glad class was over.

The sequence (from what I remember) went something like this:

Adho Mukha Virasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana



Uttihita Padangustasana, foot at the wall

Supta padangustasana (making a point of bending the knee into the chest before taking it straight up or out)


Eka pada and parsva eka pada in Sirsasana (making a point of bending the knee into the chest before taking it straight out/down and to the side/down)



Salamba Sarvangasana