Friday, November 21, 2014

In Loving Memory of B.K.S. Iyengar

As I leave the Institute and begin to think about heading home to Portland, I stop at the new beautiful photo of Guruji that graces the entrance to the practice hall.  I touch his feet in the photo, bow my head and join my palms in Namaskar, paying my respects in a way that it has been done for thousands of years.  In this way I am acknowledging the divinity within him as well as the divinity that he awakened within me.  Rest in peace, my dear teacher. Thank you for sharing the Light that you are.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Taking class with Geetaji:  Clear, pure, precise teaching from The Source.
(Photo is from the Portland Convention, 2010.)

Sarees:  I have never seen a saree I did not think was both beautiful and elegantly draped, whether it is worn for a wedding or for doing construction work in the road.  The flat sarees in the photos are laid out to dry in the sun on the ghats (steps) at Alandi.

Nana Waghchaure:  Nana takes care of me.  I trust him implicitly.  Whether it is a day in the country to experience a sacred Indian pilgrimage to Alandi, finding a reliable saffron merchant or picking my husband up at the airport, Nana is our guy!  He is proud of his new rickshaw!

The feel of the floor at the Institute:  The coolness of the kota stone floor is always calming for me.  It takes me right back to one of the first times I came to Pune.  Guruji (B.K.S. Iyengar) had us do a longgggg headstand right on the hard floor itself.  An experience not easily forgotten!

Coconut water:  There’s nothing like fresh coconut water right out of the coconut as a treat after a demanding class at the Institute.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Times of India

I found this overview of households in India fascinating.  Be sure to read to the last statistic!
Source:  The Times of India newspaper November 5, 2014.

Percentage of households with:

Tile roofs                                   39.5
Tap water (treated)                   32.
No toilet in house                      53.1

Percentage of households using:

Electricity                                        67.3
Wood or cow dung for cooking      70.

Percentage of households owning:

Television                                   47.2
Mobile phone                              53.2

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Being Here Now

I figured November would be a quiet month at the Institute.  I envisioned a personal retreat of sorts.  Although my husband Michael traveled with me, he is now off having adventures exploring temples in southern India.  In light of Guruji’s passing, I didn’t know what I would find here or how I would feel being here. 

The yoga hall is filled with students from all over the world making this pilgrimage to the source of our shared inspiration.  There are at least 120 of us in the practice hall.  Iyengar Yoga thrives!  Classes are being taught with a deep sense of calm clarity.

I felt a personal calling to make this trip.  The man who inspired my life’s work has passed and being here allows me to pay my respects and to know on an experiential level that Iyengar Yoga continues. It has taken me a while to find the words to express what I am experiencing here.  Reverence, commitment and gratitude come through the teachers, their teaching, our practice and our community.  Reverence for all that our esteemed teacher has shared with us through out his life.  The commitment of all who have the fire for Iyengar Yoga to travel, practice, study and teach.  And gratitude for the legacy we are all part of.  JLYC students and all students of Iyengar Yoga teachers are an important part of this legacy.  If you practice yoga in a class or in your home practice and it changes the way you live your life or the way you respond in traffic or the way you express patience with your family or co-workers, you are touched by the power of Iyengar Yoga.  There is no doubt it transforms us.

Geeta Iyengar was teaching class the other evening and she spoke of her father.  She told us that he said, “If you are with me, I am with you.”  That statement is a gift I will cherish.  She also told us he said, “I will be watching you!”  As I hear that promise, my eyes smile away the moist feeling that begins to creep in.  Thank you, Guruji.

Below: A sweet moment with B.K.S. Iyengar in Pune, 1989.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Signs of the Times!

Pune never disappoints!  I am constantly amazed!  Imagine having a photo printed on your cake.  I am tempted!!  In an attempt to “Think Beautiful,” please do not spit, park or litter!  And if you desire a painless childbirth experience, there’s a hospital here in Pune just for you.  Remember no shouting, teasing or clicking of photos! And lastly, enough of that ekagrata one pointed focus stuff, use diversion instead!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veggie Love

Laxmi Road, named after the goddess of wealth, is the heart of Pune and the site of the Old Market.  It’s a hustling, bustling place, but I found veggie love there.  Name that crop:  your guess is as good as mine!  (You can click on any photo to enlarge it.)


Monday, November 10, 2014

Classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute

All over the world Iyengar Yoga classes begin with three Oms and the Invocation to Patanjali.  At the sound of the first Om, I feel immediately at home here in Pune half way around the world from Portland.  We have had classes with Gulnaz Dashti, Prashant Iyengar and yes, (lucky us!) Geeta Iyengar.  In addition to our daily classes, there are medical classes and open practice times.

Medical classes are for those who have a specific medical issue.  After submitting a letter describing their unique situation, Geeta Iyengar will create an individual sequence for them, which they are expected to practice three times a week here at the Iyengar Institute.  Frequently a family member will accompany them in order to learn how to assist them in their poses.  The poses include a large number of props, as this better ensures that the pose is accessible to the student.  The props also serve to support the areas of the practitioner’s body that may be tight, in pain or closed down.  Support, both physical and emotional, is an important element in healing.

As in the past, I have been assisting in the medical classes.  Yesterday I was working along with two of my colleagues helping a person living with Parkinson’s disease.  This was particularly exciting for me, as one of my students in Portland recently told me that a loved one had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and wanted to know what Iyengar Yoga might offer.  Each person’s situation is different, dependent also on their age and physical health, which is why we cannot just glibly apply one person’s sequence to another, but while I am here I hope to learn some of the yogic principles involved with working with this disease. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

From Portland to Pune 2014

"I’m all ready to go.  Really??!!  I need a visa to go with you to India?"................Rusty

This was the easiest trip to India ever……..a mere 28 hours door to door!  Along the last leg of our trip we were reminded that the major highway linking Mumbai and Pune is a relatively novel concept.  The “Observe Lane Discipline” sign reminds drivers to stay in their own lanes.  See my “Pune Traffic” post from my 2011 trip for a bit of back story on this.  See side bar for previous posts.

Arrived!  Jet lagged, but thrilled that we finally arrived at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, Michael and I just sat for a very long time in the courtyard that is situated between the Iyengar’s private residence and the yoga practice hall.  Just taking it all in…..