Friday, April 18, 2008

Day 8 Don't Jerk but transition and flow into correction -- A short conversation with Prashant Iyengar

Today was a 7 am intermediate class by Abhi, guruji's grand-daughter. I can tell she is very pranayam inclined as it began in her discourse at the onset before the patanjali prayer. Focusing on breath awareness right from the onset. I fore-warned her about my high blood pressure - she nodded. I was concerned about inversions. We started the dog pose on the rope. Now if you have never done this 0n a rope, best to put a blanket. These ropes can cut into your thighs until you really get used to them.

She instructs to extend from the sides of the torso and with every exhalation you can walk out further despite the resistance of the rope which is carrying all your weight. Then onto Uttanasana, the pressure is building in my head and fear of an imminent collapse is overcoming me. Should I just go ahead and do a half uttanasana instead. Would she find it offensive? Before the thought even completely processed in my mind we instructed to do a Shirsasana with a belt around the upper thighs. My heart sinks. "Be Indifferent" echoes in my head. " The blankets need to be on top of the sticky mat, not the other way around". I shall make a mental note of this instruction. Couldn't stay long on this one.

Then we were off to Viparita Dandasana. Wham-bam chairs are out fast and off we go. Now my head is really pounding. I get her attention and tell her softly "my head is pounding". "Get three bolsters" she says. So out I get and bring back three bolsters. She adjusts them so my head and neck are more flat and rested. The thighs are tightly strapped, I can still feel a slight back bend. Its relaxing. Off to Chair Sarvangasana. This pose has been repeated throughout the week consistently. She talks about the "throat" and how most thought come from the throat and how important it is to relax the throat. All these poses are designed to cool the mind and quieten the metabolism. If the throat is not relaxed then neither is the thyroid gland, which increases the bodies metabolic function. She called it "yogic science". I am just absorbing this like a sponge. I can't put it all in words but this all makes sense, and yogic or not what I heard is science for me. All these poses are being done for at least 10-15 minutes, so they are long poses.

We move to Viparita Karani - Long pose. Nearly 20 minutes. While in this pose she instructs us to do Viloma Pranayama. This was most relaxing. Finally my head felt completely relaxed and it had a cooling effect. I could hear loud noises from downstairs. Prashantji giving instructions at the top of his voice - like a football coach. I can't wait to sit and hear his next dissertation. We end in a shavasana. I ask Abhi about poses for high blood pressure. "Forward Bends" - sounds great!

Prashantji's class is in full swing. I spot a familiar face Zubin Zarthostimanesh, Nuvana's cousin. I hand signal but he is too absorbed in the class. Prashantji talks about how many Iyengar teachers are too focused on correction. He compares a person in a pose to a moving train. He says you cannot simply correct them with a jerk. Then the teacher is simply a jerk to force such a correction. The body while doing a pose is in motion, and correction can only happen in the flow. You cannot catch the moving train without being in sync with its motion and velocity. How true! Prashantji is a modern day genius yogi.

He claims that the best way to correct is to give instructions and let the practitioner correct himself in the flow and motion of the asana. Hearing this I realized I need to lower my expectations of teachers who simply give instructions. His words simply cannot get out of my head. I spend all of the remaining 30 minutes watching the dance of the students switching from one pose to another while he ranted out his amazing philosophical discourses on yogic science. He talked about how the sun is revolving around the galaxy at 550,000 miles per hour while the earth at 65,000 miles per hour around the sun and how where the sun and earth were last year is probably not where they are today in the orbit and that these are spirals. How true. I can completely relate to spiral processes coming from the computer field. Our mind and body are bound by such spiral processes as well. I can't fully comprehend all this in words, but I get it intuitively. I got what he was saying and it was very uplifting and powerful.

Later in the afternoon after a nice lunch and a nice kerala massage, I went back to the center to visit the library. I saw Prashantji at his desk. I approached him and asked to talk to him for a few minutes. He was very receptive. I told him how I have been drawn to his discourses for the past few days. I tell him how much sense they make and how much impact he has had made on me in just a few days. He talked about how such analogies with science are important in the understanding of the mind-body connection and yoga. He is an enlightened soul and he sits at a simple desk writing by hand with a pen and paper, while the world moves on to electronic text. I was nervous talking to him, very emotional, but I did blurb out that I wrote this blog and I was going to write about him today.

I feel vibrations inside me as I type this blog. I have termed it the "Prashant effect". His discourse has been running in my head all day today. Especially the process part. Here is my humble interpretation of it. We are all in a process called life and everything around us, whether cosmic, real or abstract is really a process. In order to effect the process in anyway we need to get in sync with it first - with its motion and velocity. Only then can we understand it, impact or change it. This was my take away from his discourse today. I know somewhere and some place this brilliance from Prashantji is going to impact my life. I don't yet know when and how. But I can feel the cosmic connection already with this process.


The Yogi

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