Saturday - 22/10/16 - Last Class with Geeta, for a while

Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Pinchamyurasana
Uttanasana – Gulphasana
Prasarita Padottanasana to Uttanasana – Gulphasana

Sirsasana
-    Parsva
-    Eka Pada
o    Touch toe to the floor
o    If you are able to keep it there, keep it there until given the word to raise the leg
-    Parsvaika Pada
o    Same as Eka Pada
Repeat the above in our own time

Sarvangasana cycle on 4 thick mats
-    Halasana
-    Eka pada
o    From the floor lift one leg, return the toe to the floor lift the other
-    Halasana to Parsva
Uttanasana
One thick mat Savasana for ever and ever and floating forever…

There were some notable demonstrations by one of the Institute's teachers Lakshmi. Geetaji wanted to show the young students from Bellur, and those that were nervous about working in the middle of the room in Sirsasana how she wanted them to perform the three variations we were doing - Parsva, Eka Pada and Parsvaika Pada. Lakshmi's stamina was tested, for the first time, her Parsvaika Pada in particular was very ably shown. Geeta's instruction was to take the leg, half way down in Eka Pada and then move the leg out to the side, until the outer foot touched the side of the wall. Later Geeta had her in Sarvangasana for about as much time as Methuselah was alive, and then Halasana for almost an equal amount of time. Raja Lakshmi was adjusting her (Lakshmi) by holding her thighs and punching her knee into the base of her spine in Sarvangasana and Geeta, ever sharp made the point. If Lakshmi used her left knee to try to adjust and lift the right hip dropping, she actually didn't help at all. If she used the right knee, there was some movement upward as there should have been at the right hip. Points of leverage are most important to help elevate correctly and staying in communication with the student at all times was important. 

More lessons in Aum...

Dogs

Street Puppy

Thanks to a few kind souls, the dogs of Pune are in somewhat better shape than they might be. India for all it’s charm is dirty and unkempt and most of the dogs are stray with a few exceptions. Again though they are mostly sweet in temperament and clever. Surviving on their whits and happy to have an ear scratch. Sweet-faced and loyal as dogs are. Be safe four-legged sweethearts.

Thursday - 20/10/16 - University of Prashant - Pelvic Centered Awareness

Rope Sirsasana or Setu Bandha over a brick with a belt
-    Breathe so that the abdomen is cleansed, is emptied. Deepen the breath, deepen the cleansing of the abdominal organs.

Prashant talked  about the difference between intensity and profundity were also mentioned; one being doing the pose the other having an experiential relationship with the pose; from the pose to another pose to oneself; to the pose from oneself to another pose, etc.
Also the joining of intensity and freedom instead of one being done at the expense of the other. Can the cat and the mouse exist together? Can they get along? 

Ropes I to ropes Bhujangasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana ropes

Tadasana Backbend
Ustrasana

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana – chair into Urdhva Dhanurasana

Tadasana Backbend
Ustrasana
Then back bending, Ustrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Kapotasana 

Supta Padangusthasana I – belt
-    This pose became a pose which read me. Prashant was talking about earlier in the week of reading the pose versus the pose reading you. The access I got in those pose to read the pose and to feed back information and level of freedom to act and react in the pose.

Baradhvajasana I – Chair or on the floor
On the floor - Swap the foot so the Virasana foot is on the bottom
Sarvangasana – chair
Savasana

Practice has not happened for the last few days as I’ve been somewhat under the weather. 

Anita

This being, light, fun and incidental food chemist has been integral to our stay. I’m going to miss her greatly. She understands the human condition, a diplomatic light touch with those she works for and for her peers. But what delights she conjures! 
The best Idli Sambar, Gobi dishes, palak paneer (with tofu), Uttapa with veggies and tofu… there have been many more, but mostly it’s just her. People like her should be spoken of with sweetness and fun and eye-twinkling happiness, reverence because that’s what they give. Vitality, wholesomeness of her food. Dispensing love and shy smiles. How do you put such a being into words? Right now she is busying herself with one of our last meals and then one more tomorrow and then no more until the next time. And I’m sad, I won’t cry because you have to go away so you can come back. Still I’m sad for me as I hope to see her happy next time I’m here. But maybe next time I’ll bring Nick so he can miss her cooking too! So much of my memory of Pune, this magic first trip will be around her and I’m glad for that alone. So, if you are coming to Pune, look her up, a diamond in the rough and a culinary wiz.

 

Wednesday 19/10/16 - Geetaji and Many Sirsasanas

Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana

Adho Mukha Vrksasana
-    First with favoured leg then the other leading 3x each
-    Both legs springing up 8x

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Jumping
Uttanasana
-    Hips high
-    Lift the heels to the buttocks and jump between the two

Groups – Over 45s
All on one side then all on the other
 Trikonasana
Virabhadrasana II
Parsvakonasana
Ardha Chandrasana
Virabhadrasana I
Virabhadrasana III
Parsvottanasana
Parivrtta Trikonasana
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
Parsvottanasana
Uttanasana
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
Uttanasana

Seated
Paschimottanasana – 5 minutes
Three minutes or so each side for this next series, again all on one leg then on the other.
Janu Sirsasana
Triangmukhaikapada Paschimottanasana
Marichyasana I clasping, coming forward
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana

Because of crowding, every other person did one then the other.
Uttanasana – hold the ankles
Upavistha Konasana – coming forward

Uttanasana – shoulders inside the knees, hold the ankles
Kurmasana – first stage
Done several times

Everyone together
Kurmasana
-    Emphasis on the rounded lower back, not flattening the back
-    As the legs stretch the hips stay vertical
-    Don’t let the feet widen
-    As the thighs roll in the buttock bones spread
Tittibhasana
-    Legs stay high on the arms
-    Buttocks have to lift and stay in line with the heels
Sirsasana cycle I
-    Parsva
-    Parivrttaika pada
-    Eka pada
-    Parsvaika Pada
Tadasana
-    Roll the shoulders back
-    Stretch the arms
-    Lift the sternum
-    Eyes up and back to coil the chest
Cycle II/III/IV
Each time; leg to half way, then the toes all the way to the floor
Parsvaika Pada; take the moving leg back in line with the arm
Between cycle III and IV Trikonasana; to show us where the leg should be to the side of the body
-    Eka Pada x3
-    Parsvaika x3

Setu Bandha on a brick
Fin

The other group

Lolasana from uttanasana
Tolasana from Padmasana
Malasana - coming forward
Dwi Hasta Bhujasana
Bhujapidasana
Kurmasana

The groups join forces

Pune

Obviously an old city with a sprawl that has grown in recent years. Where the Jewelers is in the old part of town, you have to cross a very grey looking river, with detritus far below the bridge that carries cars, rickshaws and a separate span for the trains. The highlight are the kites circling catching the updrafts created by the disparity in temperature between the water and land. Then the spell of the old town is upon you. The streets narrow, twist and turn – it’s all twisty in the new part too, but much less so and the main thoroughfares are all in straight lines. The rickshaw drivers are experts, well the reliable ones are. The dizzying organization that Indians employ in traffic is at the same time terrifying and amusing. Each person in charge of a vehicle – vehicle handling is a good way to put it – has only to express an intent to occupy a space up to 6 inches ahead of them and this is a second by second negotiation. They know the size of their vehicle to the millimeter and then a few atoms beyond its boundary and drive as if they, their vehicles are also atoms collectively expanding and contracting as space and the solely advisory traffic signals will allow. That humanity can be so finely tuned, it is not chaos by any means, that human brains can operate at such a high capacity for such a simple task as moving A to B is astonishing leap forward in our development as a species. 

Tuesday 18/10/16 - University of Prashant

More back reading. This is obviously important and it has dawned on me not for the first time that regulation, reading, learning of the action and health of the spine is so much more deeply essential to some many other “healths” of the body, not just the spine itself and Prashantji said as much today.
We have been asked on successive sessions to do postures from the spine, but there have been interjections, to do from the pelvis, from the chest, from the mind. Still though I found I could come back to the back body with a renewal in addressing the back body again. Breathing into the back body, breathing from the back body, inhaling the back body, exhaling the back body. Participating, partaking and parting with – delivery from – the back body. Awareness, activity, address-al from the back, with the back, and so on. Far from acting and reacting to the back, how much can I soften and deliver the pose to the spine from the limbs, and have the spine redeliver the pose back again. 
This philosophical delivery of a class by Prashant as I have said before is difficult to put down on paper, on screen, but his facilitation of your imagination to break new ground within the poses is remarkable. Prashant built on his metaphor from yesterday’s class, of one who reads a book is different to one who sells the book, he said that “Yog” is an extension of this idea to when the book reads you. Just doing and doing and doing and doing and dying… this is not the point. The point is that the investigation yields results but that the posture delivers back a sort of nourishment, even this is not enough of a phrasing to transmit this idea of what yoga is in this context. 

Asana
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Tadasana – arms Urdhva Hastasana and Urdhva Baddanguliasana 

Adho Mukha Svanasana in the ropes
Parsva Suhkhasana
Ropes I to ropes Bhujangasana
-    Each of the rope positions were held for a really long time

Trikonasana – top rope 2x
Upavistha Konasana
-    Parsva 2x
-    Urdhva Mukha

On all fours (wait for it)
Cat/Cow (I know…)
-    Not done in quick succession, but rather as exploration of the spine.
-    Cat, can there be equal attention to the curve of each vertebra?
-    Cow, how much can the back dome? The ribs spread?

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I
Parsva Hasta Padangusthasana (UHP II)

Sirsasana
Janu Sirsasana
Savasana

Monday 17/10/16 - Prashant

Monday 17/10/16 – Prashant
Do the pose, “backfully”. How are you in your address-al of the back? How is the back in the address-al back to you? Have you made an exploration of the back body? What is it telling you about the pose? 
All these questions and more were ask of us. Prashantji required us to read the pose, not just own the book.

AMS in the ropes
Suhkhasana – twist to the right then left x2
AMS in the room
Suhkhasana – twist to the right then left x2
Sirsasana
-    Parsva
-    Parivrttaika Pada
-    Eka Pada
Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana I
Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana II
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana – chair, beginning stage
Trikonasana or Baradhvajasana in the chair
Sarvangasana - Plus variations
-    Parsva
-    Eka pada
-    Vrksasana in Sarvangasana
Halasana
Savasana

IN PRACTICE
I tried to do everything in conversation with my back body; first the skin, the muscles, the bones. Then I tried to soften all of the area of the back body, and feel from the organs; spreading the skin, the muscles, the organic body becoming more responsive and buoyant.

Sunday 16/10/16 Gulnaz, Sagarmatha and her Vegan Conquerer

What a day it has been
What a rare mood I'm in...

Arm Balances at Atmanjali Studio:

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Repeat: Emphasis was to lift towards the apex of the pose, so though both poses are head down Adho Mukha Svanasana should be done as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in terms of lift and Uttanasana the front ribs to the thighs and the back ribs spreading
Repeat both poses; the second time in Adho Mukha Svanasana, draw the thighs up as the chest moves closer to the thighs and in Uttanasana, hold the ankles; Gulphasana, and pull the side ribs down

Bhuja = Arm
We worked towards Dwi Hasta Bhujasana, First Gulnaz wanted us to bring our whole arm behind the thigh; so…
Prasarita Padottanasana
-    Arms up; Urdhva Hastasana
-    Swing the body down and plunge the arms between the legs and straight back
-    Repeat this swinging action
Feet closer – slightly wider than hip-width
-    Repeat above action arms out side the legs first
-    Repeat the action with the arms inside the legs

Work the leg and thigh over the arm and shoulder; first on the right side then on the left.
-    Use the opposite hand to manouver the leg over the shoulder
-    Keeping both feet on the floor
-    Release and do the other side
-    Repeat several times
Dwi Hasta Bhujasana – working the right side first
-    Work the arm behind the leg, the leg over the arm and shoulder as above
-    Walk the feet closer together and bring the other leg over the shoulder
-    With the buttocks high, take the hands back as far as possible
-    Bring the palms down as the buttocks move down
-    Keep the feet away from the hands
-    Resist the sit bones higher, so that you don’t just sit down on the floor
-    As the resistance at the sit-bones occurs, lift the feet; if not both, one at a time
-    Move the front ribs up and engage the abdomen toward the spine
The upper back must round or the pose is not complete. The palms must stay down, the elbows straighten.
This was repeated a few times. The feet had to stay forward until they lifted from the floor. Palms absolutely down and the back absolutely rounded, convex. 
Same, swinging Uttanasana; forcing the arms further back
Bhujapidasana
This time working the right arm in then the left;
-    The right arm was much more in place than the left
-    Walk the right foot towards the center line of the body and place the ball of the foot down
-    Bring the left foot toward the right
-    Both feet are more under the body
-    Hook the left ankle with the right
-    As the arms straighten the buttocks lift and the feet stay under the body
-    Upper back rounds and the front ribs suck up to the ceiling

Savasana in Supta Baddha Konasana
-    Legs are straightened for a couple of minutes to put he groins in neutral

So after class, we were hungry for vegan food and headed for The Real Green Café, Pune’s first vegan eatery. Somewhat of a highlight for the week, for recreational time outside of yoga. When we arrived there was something set up for a talk. Most of the seats were taken as we peered through the glass doors. Anyway, were somewhat at a loss as to what to do. The proprietor bid us come in and wanted to get us something to eat. So we agreed as the talk was commencing. We were told that the gentleman speaking was the first vegan to climb the summit of Everest – it’s Nepali name being Sagarmatha – and made it down safely. He even had his fingers and toes intact. 
The talk was fascinatingly regaled by Kuntal Joisher, details of how to prepare for such a climb, which takes years and years of dedicated training and preparatory climbs. Several climbs at 6,7, and 8 thousand metres. Then the top of the world awaits you and you must do three climbs from base camp to higher encampments and to aclimatize the body as much as possible. Even resting at base camp you are burning 4000 calories per day; 6000 when climbing with no possible way of getting truly replenishing oneself. Each time you climb there are murderous ice fields that shift and can fall on you at any moment. The numerous and fearsome ways a hypoxic brain can deceive you into stepping off the mountain and plunging you to your death. The bravery of the men born to climb, that are assigned to every climber, the Sherpas that often risk their lives to help the troubled, the frightened and the ridiculous find their way off the mountain. He had footage of all three attempts he had made at climbing his obsession and a brief clip of him talking to Sherpa Tensi who has now made the assent 11 times - phenomenal. Kuntal did the ice-bucket challenge on one trip, nearly got lost in the dark – apparently a lot of cl In 2015 he survived the quake that devastated Nepal and subsequent avalanche that engulfed base camp and killed 16 Sherpas. Some of the pictures were breathtaking of course and his picture at the roof of the world… you could see all the way to the Indian peaks of the Himalayas, a rarity at the top of the world. Nearly 8 years, an earthquake, an avalanche that took the lives of many Sherpas and climbers and a 12 hour walk through the most extreme climate and terrain, as close as a human can get to being out of the atmosphere with your feet still on the ground… those 20 minutes up there must have been every superlative that you can think of. So I met a genuine world citizen who has been where most fear to tread. Much like Iyengar yoga assessments (ha-ha).
Anyway, for those of you on the west coast of the USA, Kuntal is going to be there soon giving his talk in LA and San Francisco. Don’t miss it!
Follow: @kunsjoi on twitter

Saturday 15/10/16 - Geeta, Expanded and Extended

Geeta was very good humored and patient with us and our terrible poses. This was a masterly crafted class – of course – the midway point of Sirsasana was so light I had a hard time not floating to the ceiling. 
“Breath out so your head is not heavy”, for the back bends at the beginning. We had to go into each back bend and come out with a lifted chest and out movement had to come both sides of body simultaneously. After the back bending sequence Geeta asked us, to notice where some parts of the spine are dull, where some are working harder. Keeping the head calm and quiet, despite doing these very energetic postures was noted importance; using the breath to come into an go out, was amphasised. 

Adho Mukha Virasana
-    Quieten the mind
Adho Mukha Svanasana
-    What is the work of the legs?
-    How are the shoulder blades moving?
-    How are the arms turning
Sukhasana 6x
-    Coil back
-    Crown to the floor
-    Shoulders back
-    Chest lifted
-    Arms in Urdhva Dhanurasana, push down and lift the chest; lead with it to come up
-    Put the forearms down to help after you have
Virasana – 3x
-    Repeat above
Uttana Padasana – 3x
-    From Dandasana
-    Repeat above
-    Bend the knees, bring to the chest
-    Straighten the knees, legs firm, knees stretched; like Navasana
-    Bring the arms up and straight
Padmasana to Matsyasana
Baddha Padmasana
-    Cross arms behind the back
-    Hold the feet in Padmasana
-    Repeat actions above
Baddha Konasana
-    Repeat actions above
-    So difficult
Sirsasana
-    Light as a feather
-    Forearm work from previous poses

Demonstration from the younger students
-    Uttanasana
o    Feet together, inner feet down
o    Knees have to straighten; kneecaps back
o    Thighs; quadriceps lift, thighs back
-    Urdhva Dhanurasana
o    Student with a pain in the elbow, had to straighten
o    Lift  shoulder blades

Urdhva Dhanurasana – 100times! Well, it felt like it.
-    No props; we did terribly so Virasa demonstrated with the prop – belted, so beautifully. His hips got higher and higher as per Geeta’s request. He walked in, he lifted, his elbows straightened, he lifted. It was phenomenal.
-    Elbows belted 3x
-    Add blocks at a wall 3x
-    Back on the mat with belted elbows 3x
Set up for Sarvangasana with the thick mats
Chatush Padasana – we were awful and Geetaji was dissatisfied with how our chests were – 3x
Eventually, we were allowed to go up into
Sarvangasana
Uttanasana
Savasana

I cant over emphasise how good this sequence was. Most radical and practical exploration of the spine followed by the most heavenly Sirsasana ever. We all had tremendous fun.

Thursday 13/10/16 - Prashant and the Tree of Yoga

Asana was done from the back of the body today. Other areas touched on were the pelvis and the chest. Prashantji was mainly concerned with us experiencing each pose in this fashion. We toiled with a long held Adho Mukha Svanasana in the ropes first as questions of access, attention, breath, visualisation, expansion, extension, conversation were demanded of us and repeated over and over again. Then twisting seated – Sukhasana, Baradvajasana I – the same;  what is the relational conversation that you are having with your back body, your back chest. We held rope Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and a kneeling Bhujangasana for a superlatively long time also, and the top of the chest bloomed.  
The fruits of our labors was discussed with the metaphor of a tree. In the beginning of our practice we plant a seed, as practice moves forward so does the tree grow – becomes a sapling, then producing it’s first blooms – finally as a fully fledged tree fruit is abundant. As our practice grows as we are given more to experimentation the riper the fruit. Prashantji also said that yoga was always taught through metaphor, for the practitioner to wander through using asana as the path. One’s depth of practice dictating how winding the path is. Though Prashant said that people don’t like his classes because there are so few asana in them, I always feel like I explored so much of the landscape of my practice. I’m never bored. In his way of teaching, the onus is on you to find the  level at which you participate, partake, part with; the dimension at which you experience your awareness, your activity, your address-al.

Asana 

Adho Mukha Svanasana in the ropes or
-    Parsva Sukhasana
-    Baradhvajasana I
Ropes I Backward extension then shins on a bolster, Bhujangasana in the ropes OR
-    Baradhvajasana I several times whilst each group moved onto the ropes.
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana I
Sirsasana
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana II (Parsva) OR
Marichyasana I several times
Sarvangasana
-    Add your own variations – mine were
o    Eka Pada
o    Parsva in Sarvangasana
o    Vrksasana in Sarvangasana
o    Urdhva Padmasana
o    Parsva in Urdhva Padmasana

Trikonasana!
This was revolatory. I planted roots into the marble, paying extra attention to my heels; circumventing the whole of the pad of the heel and aiming to maintain it as the pose climbed up my body
Uttanasana
End
Prashant also talked about the difference between “staying” and “maintaining” the pose; using the metaphor of travel. If you go somewhere to visit, you pack differently than if you go somewhere to live. If you are just “staying” for a while you pack for your stay, if you are emigrating then there is much more to consider, you pack to “maintain” your existence in that place. So it is with practice of asana. Maintain, not only stay.

Wednesday Geetaji - the not so Basic Basics

Aum
We chanted the invocation several times as the morning chant was not quite up to snuff. Geeta was insistent that the tone the vigor that we approach the verse of the invocation with should follow the same intention and vitality as the Aum. If the aum becomes more quiet, more internal then so should the invocation. It was an emotional moment for me. She chanted with us and I was happy to be in front of my Guru. The mantle is upon her and she recognizes the urgency of her position. 

Asana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana – feet together
Trikonasana – Ardha Chandrasana
-    Back leg thigh lifts
Adho Mukha Svanasana x2
-    Feet together, heels down
-    Raise the back leg up; shoulder blades in to the front chest
-    Second time; do with the heels up to get more shoulder blades into t he back body
Parivrtta Trikonasana to Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana
-    Practice
-    From the back leg
o    Heel stays down
o    Give room to the front of the pose let the sacrum lift
-    From the front leg
o    Back leg knee stays bent to help turn the trunk
-    From the back leg
o    Keep the sacrum low this time
Chest forward; head back. In all cases come out of the pose with the back leg firm and straight.

Sirsasana 5mins
Adho Mukha Virasana
Vajrasana
-    Parvatasana
Dandasana
-    Urdhva Hastasana
-    Urdhva Mukha
o    Feet hip-width & hold the toes
o    Head up
o    Chest up
o    Buttock flesh lifts
-    Forward bend
Janu Sirsasana
-    Same actions as in Dandasana
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
-    Instructions kept simple
Parivrtta Paschimottanasana
-    As for Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Halasana on thick mats, with a belt
-    Hands off the back body and stretch the waist
-    Eka Pada Sarvangasana
-    Parsva Halasana
Salamba Sarvangasana
-    Move the back ribs in; do not rest on the hands move the hands into the back chest
Karnipidasana
-    Roll out of the pose with the knees bent.
Savasana

For the more complicated poses and inversions the instructions were simple and kept to a minimum. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, come in from Janu Sirsasana, the chest was to lift as in Dandasana, really lift; middle back chest moving forward and up; even throwing the head back. Was reminiscent of work I had done in Urdhva Dhanurasana before leaving for Pune. Then just grab the foot, thumb to the front of the foot; move the chest forward and bring the arm over. Keep the chest forward and head back like in Parivrtta Parsvakonasana. Simple.
Sarvangasana the instruction was again to move the back ribs in, giving the pose the appearance of a back bend.
Anyway, this class ran to 2.5 hours, yes folks! We hung on Geeta’s every word for a whole two and a half hours. We didn’t make it to the practice hall. So beat. We had a couple of things to do.
Thanks for your time all.

Monday 10/10/16 – Prashantji Annomaya – Manomaya Kosa upside down

We started with attention at the bones and muscles – if tightening, tighten further; if softening, soften further; if studying/examining; examine further, etc.
 Then moved on quickly to the breath and then the concept of breathing into the organs. What is the quality one can achieve at the organs when practicing? What is the depth of discovery of the organs when practicing? Can the asana be done from the organs? 

Asana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
-    Wide stance
Sirsasana
-    Parsva
-    Parivrtthaika Pada
-    Eka Pada
-    Parsvaika Pada
Baradhvajasana I

Second round of Sirsasana plus variations
Baradhvajasana I

Third round of Sirsasana plus variations
Then either for three groups
-    Sirsasana in the ropes
-    Ustrasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana on a block into Chatush Padasana
Or Rope Sirsasana

Sarvangasana
-    Variations
Marichyasana III
Savasana

It’s hard to write up Prashant’s classes. There is so many gaps in this but when you are in the thick of it, it’s like being part of an orchestra. The work has rhythm, crescendos, punctuation, emotional resonance.
The first round of Sirsasanas I was getting into the flow of things, the second one I could feel my organs, absolutely I could. The prick of the kidneys demanding more space, the subtlety of the space of my intestinal tract and the expansion and contraction of my liver. It’s quite extra ordinary. Now whether I was the master of my organs or they were the master of me, I could not swear to, but building on the work with Gulnaz yesterday, these two days have been pivotal in terms of practice. Lastly the third round of Sirsasana variations we were instructed to become versed with our brain. How to explore the pose from the brain to the organs to the limbs.
The three “P’s”- Participate, partake, part with; the three “A’s” – awareness, activity, address-al. All of these are tools for exploration from the annamaya kosa through the manomaya kosa.

Sunday 09/10/16 – Stories of Guruji, Gulnaz and the Rope Trick

I'm so lucky!

First class with Gulnaz at her little studio, some way from Pune Central and the Institute. Gulnaz herself I had known about for some time. She had been mentioned with reverence when I still lived in the UK. She is bright, effervescent and skillful. We sat for a few minutes before the start of class, she talked on many topics as students arrived. There was talk, at length on hamstring issues. Gulnaz made a point of identifying the sacro iliac instability goes hand in hand with this problem, and stabilization of the attachment of the hamstring at the top of the back of the thigh was paramount in aiding the fix of this troublesome, long-lived problem when it occurs. So, with that said we did the very Iyengar yoga thing of tying our legs up. Not together, but taking two belts and looping them around the buttock, so that they grabbed the buttock bone, looped up towards the top of the hip, almost but definitely above the greater trochanter, over the inner front groin, the mid groin and back up again. You have to get intimate with yourself, and keep readjusting the belts as you go. But it’s a deep exploration into the imbalances in the body. We all of us tend to develop one side of the body stronger than the other. 
Gulnaz was effusive about making stiffer students do more and the more flexible of us should back off.
The rope trick:
For AMS step into the middle rope, face the rope wall and take one leg over both strands of the rope. Have the knot so it pressures the sacrum in the pose

Asana:
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Walk forward
Uttanasana
Trikonasana
    -    Adjustment for stiff student at the trestle as Abhi did with the student in the room yesterday.
    -    A less stiff student was adjusted in the room
       o    Support the top shoulder; student hand on hip
       o    Stand close and use the  knee into the front leg buttock to move it forward

Belted as described above
Prasarita Padottanasana
    -    People with hamstring issues hate this one the most
    -    It was most investigatory, striking difference between the right and left orbits of the hips, thighs and sit bones.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana
Trikonasana
Parsva Konasana
Ardha Chandrasana
    -    Similar adjustment to Trikonasana. Very able student had the top hip guided upward as the shoulder was stabilized and the buttock of the standing leg was moved forward
    -    Student held the ankle of the person adjusting
AMS – in the rope
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana with a block at the sacrum

Gulnaz told a very touching story about her working with Guruji. In years after many of the teachers started traveling abroad, eventually there would be just herself and Guruji in the practice hall together during his practice time. He would get her to help him, do certain jobs for him to help him sharpen his pose. One day he asked to put him into Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand). She shook with nerves as she positioned the great man; her guru, the expert of experts. Adjusting him was difficult enough; his skin soft as a baby’s, his muscles more pliable still. There was obvious emotion in the telling. Her guilt at not positioning the prop (wedges under the shoulders) correctly. Guruji stayed in Sarvangasana for 50 minutes. Usually for 45, but he stayed longer and then told her of her mistake and a wave of guilt washed over her. Guruji said it was ok, he knew what to do anyway. Still tears in her eyes from deep affection for this man. One of many great stories from those that knew him personally.

Saturday – 08/10/16 Geeta on form

Hanging on her every breath, Geetaji is in electric form. Direct and concise, she caught every pose that was not up to snuff and pushed us all to do better. 
Trikonasana – the front leg buttock had to move forward, if the thigh would not rotate, make it rotate. Parsva Konasana, the buttock forward, knee back over and over again. We made a study of the shoulders too, move the shoulder blades in, in Adho Mukha Svanasana by lifting the palms and fingers from the floor, also in Tadasana create width and space by spreading the collarbones and taking the shoulders straight back. In Urdhva Hastasana, widen the arms from the side of the head and turn them; take the upper arm back past the ears. 

Asana
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Tadasana – emphasis on left of the top chest and moving the shoulders back
Urdhva Hastasana
-    Upper arms back behind the ears
-    Arms wide, turn biceps out, triceps in, bring arms close to the side of the head.
Uttanasana
–    wide legs
–    Hold ankles and pull side body down
Trikonasana
Parsva Konasana
Virabhadrasana I
Ardha Chandrasana
Uttanasana
Virabhadrasana III
-    Take the side of the ears up toward the ceiling as the upper arms are lifted away from the floor
-    Maintain extension of the chest forward
Uttanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
-    Head on the floor
Sirsasana
Adho Mukha Virasana
On thick mats
-    Halasana
-    Salamba Sarvangasana
-    Halasana
Savasana

In Trikonasana – under Geeta’s instruction a student was adjusted by Abhijata, who was seated on the ground in front of the student, with a rope around the hip, looping down, grabbing the buttock bone. Abhi placed her feet, mid inner thigh of the front leg; top of the back leg thigh to create resistance both right and left spheres of the posture and pulled on the rope so as to draw the  buttock bone of the front leg towards her. (See next post for further unmissable details on buttock bone direction.)
Coming in to Virabhadrasana I, the sacrum has to move forward as you go into the pose; coming out of the pose the sacrum is directionally still moving forward as the legs are straightened. This prevents withering of the hamstring on the front leg.

Friday – 07/10/16

This guy!

Pune:
Yesterday was another shopping day. We have an excellent cook who is sweet, funny and a delight to be around. Many regular travellers to Pune know and love Anita. Her charm is offset by forgetfulness, but is entirely forgivable. Anyway, we shop every couple of days or so for food for her to conjure deliciousness. The food is the centerpiece for us to discuss the days events, here and abroad. Hurricane Matthew is the main focus currently, so dear friends, know we are thinking of you.
The markets are within walking distance or tuktuk ride away. One surprise yesterday was a street cleaners cart that was a vacuum, hoovering up the street. The three of us stopped to photograph it much to the operators bemusement. Our excitement was that it was all electric! (Photos to come later – Indian internet not cooperating.) India has a several electric vehicle manufacturers that are doing well in foreign markets that are open to electric vehicles, motorcycles and it’s exciting to see other applications.

Thursday - 06/10/16, Trikonasana with a Purpose

Prashantji is a skillful psychologist. The simple and direct are not obvious. He builds layers of explanation to tug minds to the zenith of his ideas. Trikonasana was performed many times and from different stand points within the body, both in the room and using the top rope. The legs were first purposeful point, how are they working? What effect are they having on the body? Two of several points that were made again and again. Then Trikonasana from the breath. Can the breath be the vehicle of exploration for the posture? Can the breath be expansive front and back of the body? How does it effect the legs? The posture grows. Then Trikonasana from the organs. Can the organs be effective in the posture? How does the energy of the organs of the lower abdomen, spleen, liver etc. effect the pose? Prashant also noted again about the three "A's" and the employment of the intelligence. That the intelligence could not commence without working to this level of profundity.

Personal:
This class felt like a pivotal moment. There were many concepts that were built on from previous classes this week, so there was a mini firework display going on in my body and mind. If the properties of the pose can be generated in various locations and with various techniques as described then the pose evolves in exploration of the inner workings. There is a realization of causation. Yes yogic posture works on the limbs, muscles, therefore induces greater fitness for the body, but that is part of a story. If indeed as I understand it that this work reveals the body’s interconnectivity then there is always another vista over the horizon. 
Prashantji drew our attention to the stills of Guruji in Sirsasana. He said that we may know and understand the pose effecting the mind, from the body, but we may not yet know the body.

Prashantji drew our attention to the stills of Guruji in Sirsasana. He said that we may know and understand the pose effecting the mind, from the body, but we may not yet know the body effecting the mind from the posture, just as a walk away from home has a different motion, emotion, timescale than walking the same distance back again.

Go forward, friends and practice with this.

Wednesday Geeta - Presence in the Present - Morning Class - 05/10/16

GEETAJI TAUGHT ASANA CLASS!

Ardha Matsyendrasana - Geeta Iyengar

Tuesday update: those of us appraised of these things know how special an event this is. 
I had a brief dream Tuesday night, that Geeta and I were walking in Pune together. 
he was in the practice hall also that morning, in a subsequent meeting that was called at her request, she said that she could correct all of our postures! The meeting was more on orientation as there are many new to the institute and questions of ettiquette and such like had to be addressed. Though it’s clear she is unwell and she said as much, she is bright and alert in teaching. 
Wednesday: Asana was vigorous and clear, there was much emphasis put on plugging the hips for knee, hip and lower back issues. Several students got her attention – a fortunate few. Geeta was benevolent and cheerful, and the force of nature that she undoubtably was as a younger woman, is evident.
Asana
Adho Mukha Virasana
Virasana
 - Parvatasana
 - Parsva
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Trikonasana
 - emphasis on the front leg buttock
 - hip socket has to plug in
 - knees must be straight
 - Head back
Parsvakonasana
 - front leg buttock in, knee back
 - Back leg straight
Virabhadrasana I
 - Back leg straight
 - front chest lifted
Tadasana and Baddanguliasana were also taught as investigation.
In Baddanguliasana we were instructed to lift the heels and balance on the ball mounds of the feet.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - on brick
Chatooshpadasana to lengthen the lumbar spine

Virabhadrasana II - Geeta Iyengar 

Tuesday 04/10/16 Prashantji and Benoit Mandelbrot

The mathematical description of feedback that results in unparalleled beauty, brought forth by the brilliant  Benoit Mandelbrot.

result of the above equation.

Deepening your practice from the point of the breath. Again Prashant was getting us to identify the how we explore the asana from the point of view of the breath. He mentioned concepts of exploitation – the person doing the exploiting is in the beneficial position as opposed to the person being exploited – when applied to the individual practitioner, if you develop skill and use incorrectly then you are not advantaged; if you develop the skill and not use it at all you are disadvantaged also. 
But what does that have to do with Mons Mandelbrot? Well, the metaphor that really hit me was the rose and the mirror. The reflection and the reflected exhibit the same quality but are distinctly different. But if two identical mirrors are placed in front of each other, there is not difference between the reflection and the reflected. Is there a possibility to count the number of reflection in the glass – No. You can describe it – Benoit Mandelbrot has with his masterful equation. But it is a closed circle, the used and the user in mutually beneficial symbiosis.
So it goes is asana to the practitioner if the practitioner does not just DO. So then you must use the 3 “A” – activity, awareness and “address-al”. The three “P’s” were mentioned as he had been teaching them previous to this week – "Participate, partake, part with". All concept of what we must strive for, not to just DO, but to be present, sentient and in enquiry in asana.

A practice with a greater level of involvement within the pose, the exploration of the pose through the breath, advancing the pose with the “3A’s”. Your level of involvement with the pose is informed and fed by experience, your willingness to experiment, to tread further into the unknown rather than stay with the comfort of habit, apply the layer upon layer of practice that moves you forward, to continue to play, research and grow in āsana.