Not Just Asana in Pune!

posted in: Yoga | 6

When every day is packed with adventures, yoga experiences that boggle the mind and newness at every corner, time moves differently. And depending on the perspective of the moment, it either moves very quickly or very, very slowly.

Today was a quick day, although not at the beginning. I got up early to get breakfast in well before 9:30 a.m. class. I was feeling sluggish and homesick, which happens to the best of us when we’re away from family for so long.

But no wallowing in that for me, because today’s asana class was a kicker! Taught by Abi and Mr. Iyengar, the class broke new ground for me in innumerable ways.

Abi taught a wicked hard Prasarita Padottanasana (concave back) first thing and for several reasons I was having difficulty (not the least of which being that my head was resting on the outer thigh of the person in front of me AND my head was tilted as it was to have any space at all)! Abi asked for feedback from the students. All seemed reluctant to respond, but finally did so after some prompting. We came out of the pose and were instructed to come to the platform up front.

The sea of humanity then parted, making space for Mr. Iyengar. He right away called our bluff–meaning he could witness lack of understanding in our poses and demeanor, but we were not willing to admit it. I appreciated his candid remarks (I was hoping he didn’t find my smirking disrespectful) because he couldn’t have been more “right on” about the atmosphere. The room felt thick with dullness and fear, and I knew for myself that I wasn’t getting half of what Abi was trying to convey. So he spelled it out for us, using Abi as the demo, and reiterated that if we are not honest with ourselves about a simple pose like Prasarita Padottanasana, how can we expect to go inward in our practice? How can we learn?

What a simple lesson. Satya means “honesty,” and is part of the first limb of yoga. He is a master in asana for sure, but also a master teacher, integrating the more subtle aspects of Patanjali’s teachings into the asana class from the very beginning.

The rest of class continued along that vein, focusing on the movement of the skin, which as an organ of perception, has a direct connection to one’s ability to go inward. The sequence left my mind quiet, my body cool, and my nerves soothed.

As usual, I can’t wait to practice, practice, practice. And then of course, share with you.

After class I ate mounds of food, and went on a short excursion in the rickshaw. We have been staying close to “home” this past week, observing classes and resting up for asana practice. However, Pune is rich with India’s history, and we visited Aga Kahn this week, the palace where Mahatma Gandhi was interned the years preceding Indian independence. We also had a lovely morning at Sinhagad, a fort in the hills just outside of Pune. This fort changed hands many times over the past thousand years, and was named Sinhagad (Lion Fort) for the general of Shivaji, who died in the successful campaign to reclaim it in 1670.

What do we still have to experience? Well, Pune is a wealth of sights and adventures. I don’t think we will suffer for things to do in our last 10 days in India. My priority is yoga, though, and I hope to keep a diligent schedule of classes, observation of classes and practice time until my return.

Below is a picture from my trip to Sinhagad and another little treat for the eyes from an open market in in Pune.

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6 Responses

  1. Katherine Leppek

    Thank you Janet for making us feel connected. I am sorry to say I will not be here on Sept. 22 to enjoy your open house and post Pune workshop. I WILL however keep coming to Yoga to enjoy all that you, wonderful teacher, have to share. -Katherine

  2. Evelyn

    Lovely rich descriptions of all of your sensory experiences, yogic and cultural. Michal taught Saturday class. My first time with him teaching. What a lovely person! I am certainly missing you. Keep having fun. Love Evelyn

  3. Linda

    I find myself checking Rose Yoga often for news of your trip. It is so wonderful to see India through your eyes. What beautiful green hills in Monsoon season and I can only imagine all of those students crowded in together and filling up the space completely. I look forward to hearing all you have to share each week and the gems you will carry home to share post Pune. Many thanks Janet. Enjoy!

  4. Sue

    So many shades of green, so many pieces of asana to put together to figure out our puzzles. Absorb as many moments as you can. I can’t wait to hear more of your stories and have you share what you’ve learned with all of us in the weeks, months and years to come
    ~Sue

  5. farinaz

    Just back in town myself, and catching up on your blog!
    Had goosebumps reading about Mr I. “calling your bluff” as you put it. The ‘satya’, the humility we learn through yoga practice … serves us well to carry that with us through other parts of our life!
    Sinhagad looks lovely! Did the monsoon arrive while you were there?
    Look forward to catching up soon,
    – Farinaz.