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Friday, July 25, 2008

The asana is me and I am the asana - BKS Iyengar

The last two days of classes at RIMYI have been intense and full of learning. Today was my fourth class in a row. I cannot even describe what that feels like. Yesterday's class was amazing. The teacher was incredible. I will report her name next week - but her style of instruction was precise, encouraging with the theme of focusing on the steps involved in completing a pose. So attention was given to the interim steps and putting time and energy on those interim phases as you transform from lying down position into an Urdhva Dhanursasana for example. It was obvious this teacher was seasoned both in age and experience.

The asana theme involved pushing down the trapezeus muscles, working the band of muscles below the back of the neck and above the shoulder blades, positioning of the arms to do Gomukh asana, rolling the shoulders back to get additional extension of the arms, adding forward bends, extending the hips as you bend down, extending the shoulders in downward dog position, and pushing from the upper thighs to get the height and the leg extensions in downward dog. All of these leading to a much better and well performed Urdhva Dhanurasana. I was reminded of Prashantji's words from his Tuesday class I observed - "Show less and do more". I don't think I have ever felt an asana as I have felt asanas the last two days.

Today's (Friday) class was conducted by one of my favorite teachers Gulnaaz. I had been looking forward to her the jokes and wise cracks all week. I got plenty and a few planted at my direction as she worked us hard by performing some poses in fast action sequence, especially the Halasana, Sarvangasana sequence. None could handle, we all had an amazing workout that was fun none-the-less. She gave two valuable instructions - one on how to "take off" from a Virbhadra Asana I to III. The key is the distance between the legs. You have to keep increasing and adjusting as you turn to maintain the distance in order to be able to bend the knee properly in VB-I to then push yourself out with your arms and then rise on your bent leg into the flying pose of VB-III.

The second set of instructions pertained to performing a Vriksasana. She told the class to not worry about raising the hands up. She said "focus on the strengthening the roots of the tree and the branches will eventually grow". This meant get the foot rooted well in the leg/groin region and get the balance. Once you have that the arms will go up naturally. She showed how to best root the foot. I have been been able to do this before. I was able to root my right foot perfectly and with some wall support I was in Vriksasana heaven. I still have work to do on the left side, but it will come.

Thank you Gulnaaz you are the best! Time just flew today. After class I had my daily dose of Coconut water and had a chance to speak with some fellow classmates from abroad. One was a lady from Dubai who had been to Portland and then a German guy named Martin. He plans to attend classes for 3 months. He has been performing these perfect poses in his practice before class and certainly garnering attention from the locals.

But when in class no one is perfect - we all are subject to correction and wise cracks from Gulnaaz and that just makes this the best class for me. It is not about perfection - it is about being in the asana and becoming the asana as Guruji states in one of his interviews. He cannot separate himself from the asana. That is the ultimate progression of yoga becoming an integral part of your life. It could take 50 years of your life but "You are the asana and the asana is you" is something very achievable for anyone if you can be the doer and be doing more and focusing on learning and understanding the asana. I realized I have been experiencing it all week. That was my invaluable lesson for today and what I love about being at RIMYI Pune.

Namaste

The Yogi

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing your RIMYI experience. I hope to go someday and reading about your classes is great for me!